Classical Beer Review: Alvinne & Boundary Brewing Phi ³

When team BCS did Brussels recently, I was not disappointed by my first-ever Alvinne beer (Sigma – see previous post). Upon returning to Amsterdam, I found some of their other beers on draft at my new favorite beer bar Foeders and luckily for me, one of them was also Classically-themed!

Phi ³ is actually a collaboration between Alvinne and Boundary Brewing. It was brewed to celebrate the three-year-anniversary of the Belgian Beer Blog Smaak. Phi ³ is a take on Alvinne’s regular Phi, a blonde sour ale that happens to also serve as the base beer for the barrel-aged Cuvée Sofie. The difference between Phi ³ and the regular Phi is that the former has been mashed three times and is barrel-aged. To boot, the third mash was done in a wine barrel, with spruce tips added for the lautering. The result is a beautifully complex ale! Phi has notes of funk, blueberry, and honey in the nose. It tastes slightly tangy, honey sweet and fruity – mainly peach. The beer really smells like wild yeast and some of the unhopped brews we have been experimenting with here at BCS. Overall, a delicious concoction!

At BCS, we have been slowly drinking our way through the Greek alphabet. As noted in previous posts, we had various Alpha’s (1, 2, 3), a Zita, a Thita, the already mentioned Sigma and, now, there’s Phi. Phi is the Greek equivalent of our ‘F’ but is more accurately described as ‘Ph’. The uppercase is Φ and the lowercase is φ.

Unlike many of the previously discussed letters, the origin of the letter Phi is not certain because it has no direct Phoenician equivalent. Together with ξ and ψ, φ is known as a ‘supplemental’ – an addition to the original Phoenician alphabet by the ancient Greeks for sounds in the Greek language that had no Phoenician equivalent. While in this sense the Phi may be considered a new invention, one theory is that the inspiration for this new letter did indirectly come from Phoenician after all.

The Greek Phi closely resembles the Phoenician Qoph, a letter used to denote a ‘q’ sound. The Phoenician Qoph was originally adopted in ancient Greek as the Koppa for the ‘k’, but this letter was soon replaced by the Kappa (Κ, κ) – which is also derived from Phoenician. Perhaps with Kappa replacing Koppa, it was easy enough to slightly modify the symbol in order to invent Phi. This new letter would allow the ancient Greeks to write the word we associate them with today: φιλοσοφία (philosophy – lit. ‘love of wisdom’).


11% ABV
Brewed by: Brouwerij Alvinne & Boundary Brewing


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