Brew Blog: Southern Star Le Mort Vivant

Categories: Brew Blog

Le Mort Vivant.jpg
Photo by Nicholas L. Hall
What do zombie brewers eat? Graaaaaiiiiinnnnns, GRAAAAAIIIIINNNNNS!
We have a grand Christmas tradition in my house, one that's gone on for as long as we've had kids. Every Christmas Eve, after the kids are in bed, my wife and I wrap presents. It's a tradition forged out of a combination of laziness and pragmatism. Sure, we could have wrapped a few here and there for the weeks leading up to Christmas Day, but we find few times when the kids are not underfoot, liable to surprise us in the middle of putting a bow on a cabbage patch doll or some such. Besides, it feels a bit more efficient to do all the wrapping at once; you kind of get in a groove about five presents in, and it just seems to go more quickly.

We make the best of it by drinking. We chat about the year past, and the one impending; we place bets over which presents each kid will like best and which relative is going to start the fight this year; we get quietly, pleasantly intoxicated. You can probably chart a time-line of our wrapping by the decreased attention to detail, the last few presents of the night bound in crumpled tissue, a mile of tangled, ungainly tape wrapped haphazardly about it, like a hobo-sack. Over the years, we've learned the importance of having two pairs of scissors. I'll let you interpret that as you will.

This year, I deviated from tradition just a bit. Usually, we uncork a bottle of something French and sparkly. Earlier that day, I'd stumbled upon a tower of Le Mort Vivant at Whole Foods, and that stood in nicely as our traditional tipple.

Le Mort Vivant pours a vibrant copper color, producing a thin, sudsy cap, which recedes quickly, leaving no trace. The body of the beer is very hazy, almost fuzzy-looking, with moderate carbonation. A little bit of sediment settles at the bottom of the glass.

The aroma is light and clean, offering a host of toast and biscuit aromas. A hint of apricot perks things up a bit, and I kept struggling with whether or not I noticed a whiff of butter. If you inhale long and deep, there's the slightest hint of yeasty funk, like dry yeast before the bloom.

While the beer manifests subtly in the nose, it comes on much richer in the mouth, almost unexpectedly so. Butter toffee and caramel are predominant, offering a vividly rounded sweetness. There's a hint of spice and citrus peel keeping the malty flavors perky, and that crisp toast flavor comes back mid-palate. Pear and whole wheat pasta round things out before a slight bitterness, measured and purposeful, washes the palate clean.

As it warms, a dusky graininess comes out. It's kind of like toasted oats, oddly reminiscent of Cheerios, but in a pleasant way. There's also a gentle nuttiness, cashew-like and buttery.

This is not a big, overbearing beer. It is, in fact, quite subtle. While there's a lot going on, you have to dig for it a little bit. Otherwise, it's just a very smooth, very mild, very drinkable beer. Depending on your palate and your purposes, you might find comfort in both aspects. For me, as a pleasant diversion from and accompaniment to the festive task at hand, it played both parts. Merry and easygoing while I was hard at work wrapping some particularly irregular polygon of a present, showing a bit more substance when a simple book afforded me more attention to the details (of the beer, of course).

I can see this beer earning a regular spot in my rotation, if not for its seasonal status. Perhaps, as is traditional for the Bier de Garde style in which this beer is made, I'll put some away for later. I'd be very curious to see how this mild, subtle, elegant brew does with a bit of age on it. Maybe next year's Christmas Eve wrapping will feature a side by side. I'll have to see if I can convince my wife to wrap all the presents, so I can focus on what's important.



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13 comments
Stacy
Stacy

Thanks for recommending this beer! We really enjoyed it while watching the Texans today!(Found it at Bellaire Whole Foods.)

KING
KING

THANK YOU SOUTHERN STAR. SWAG. WOO.

Ahandal
Ahandal

Also, the 1982 horror movie after which this beer is named is worth checking out.  (I really wanted to use the word "eponymous" here somehow but I couldn't justify it)

groovehouse
groovehouse

This is one of two of my favorite beers of 2011. This beer is amazing and like most beers, once they get warm, I don't want to drink them but this one is drinkable at any temperature. I can't get enough of this wonderfully drinkable nectar. 

Terry Alexander
Terry Alexander

I really enjoyed this beer myself. Not real overbearing. I also am hording a 4 pack for later and am on the watch for any stragglers that show up on my shopping rounds.

On a side note, we share the same Christmas Eve tradition. ANd for the very same reason.TA

Joe
Joe

Have looked for it all over the place (Central Market, Spec's) and have been unsuccessful.  Hope I find some soon

Matthew
Matthew

i've got a 4-pack in my fridge right now awaiting it's first tasting

thelittlebaker
thelittlebaker

it is a fantastic beer! i plan on buying a few more 4pks, you know, for emergencies.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

It is supremely drinkable, isn't it? This was my favorite seasonal discovery of the holidays. I'm hoarding several four-packs in my fridge, in fact.

Ahandal
Ahandal

I absolutely love this stuff!

Ahandal
Ahandal

HEB at I10/Bunker Hill also has four packs

Nicholas L. Hall
Nicholas L. Hall

When last I was at Whole Foods Kirby, they had plenty. I was also at the Dunlavy HEB yesterday, and they had a handful of four packs. Hope that helps!

Nicholas L. Hall
Nicholas L. Hall

Me, too. Like I said, I'm really curious what this will be like with some age on it.

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