The prose poems of Stephane Mallarme (1842-1898) are particular favorites of mine. Generally associated with the fin de siecle Symbolist movement, Mallarme's verse lacked the spleen of Baudelaire and the phoenix glow of Rimbaud, but had a level of ethereal sophistication that eluded them both. All three shared a similar sooted, Poe-damaged incandescence: over wrought and humorously bleak. Mallarme held a regular Tuesday writer's salon that hosted Gide, Valery, Yeats and Verlaine among others and was an inspiration to Manet and Gauguin.
For me, his genius is most apparent in the masterwork Igitur. Using Poe's "The Raven" as a reference, Mallarme trajects directly out of any sort of classic poetic constraints with Igitur's entelechic struggle: really extraordinary for the time. Mallarme had a reputation as a perfectionist and spent huge amounts of effort and anxiety on form in his pursuit of a new poetics. His was a methodic, form shattering verse incorporating modernist marginalia: structural, though seemingly random and disjointed.
And so to a beer worthy of this visionary iconoclast: my own dice thrown at midnight (the caprice of wild fermentation (chance annulled?)). I brewed Mallarme about 2 years ago, on a yeast cake of WLP530(the Westmalle/Westvletern strain). I went with a simple grist in the style of a ramped up Flanders Red and mashed at an elevated temperature to secure some body. In the long secondary fermentation I had it resting on a handful of french oak cubes with my house mixed culture strain (complimented by choice bottle dregs along the way) in a glass fermentor.
For perspective, Rodenbach made a fascinating 10% abv Vin de Cereale (Flanders-Red-Barleywine) from a single foeder in 2004 that Rachel and I were lucky enough to find a bottle of in Belgium. It was a still beer, though the lack of carbonation did not diminish it's refined, classic Rodenbach lactic-aceto-sour punch. A bit of research provided that the beer was unfortunately filtered, pasteurized and lightly back sweetened.
I was happy to have my interpretation carbonate, as fresh yeast, even workhorse Champagne strains, don't enjoy the toxicity of high alcohol, high acid environments.
OG 1.086 FG 1.008 ABV 10.3% IBU 24 SRM 16
85% Pilsner Malt
6% Biscuit malt
3% Special B
mashed around 155
.5 oz. Magnum at 60 mins.
primary ferment at ambient with WLP530 (Westmalle/Westvleteren)
secondary in glass with a handful of medium toast oak cubes for ~20 months, house funk and various wild bottle dregs
bottled with rehydrated Champagne yeast, and it miraculously carbonated.
vinous, lactic, oak, cherries, blue cheese