3/28/20: Tales from the Cellar #3--Madtree Brewing Company's Levanto Oscuro (2017)

12:44 PM

Today it's a balmy 79° here in my east-of-Cincinnati middle-of-nowhere. Michelle and I just got back from taking the puppy for a walk around the lake and I changed into a Hawaiian shirt--my go-to summer outfit--immediately afterward and am now sitting on my porch while working on this post. Sure, it's technically early-spring, but it's big summer vibes here. Who cares if the temperature's supposed to plummet next week?


Oh, yeah. That COVID-19 thing's still going around. This is still my tales from the cellar series. Yesterday, when I decided that I'd do a post today, Michelle was too busy working to throw a bottle into the fridge for me, so I did it myself. I reached into the cabinet--without looking--and grabbed a bottle. It wasn't until I opened the fridge today that I let myself see what it was: Madtree's 2017 vintage Levanto Oscuro, part of their Funk Series.

If you frequent these parts, you'll be well aware that Madtree's my favorite Cincinnati brewery. Let's see if I can give you a brief rundown of the place off the top of my head: At the turn of the last decade, a group of guys decided to quit their corporate jobs and open a brewery. In 2013, Madtree opened its doors in Kennedy Heights and became the first Cincinnati brewery to can their brews. In 2017, Madtree 2.0 opened in Oakley. The place massive expansion that greatly increased the outfit's brewing capacity and created a lot more jobs. They also strongly believe in protecting the environment and giving back to their community. Nowadays, they're visiting Cincinnati neighborhoods with their delivery van, going directly to customers amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

Okay, now that that's done, here's the link to Madtree's "About" page. How'd I do?

Levanto Oscuro, which no longer has a page on Madtree's website so we'll turn to Untappd for our info, is a 7.7% ABV brown ale brewed with sour bacteria and aged in oak barrels. My bottle specifies (on top of a fantastic homage to Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are) that the beer is, in fact, a California ale with cherries added. Let's see how the last three years have been to it.


The nose is mostly sour but, digging just a little deeper than its surface, I find cherry. Not maraschino candy sweetness. No, it's fresh black cherry. It's Montmorency cherry, straight from Michigan. There's brown sugar, oak, and a slight amount of caramel. It's a perfectly crisp bouquet for a muggy day like today. Purrl, unfortunately, doesn't seem to think so. She gave my bottle just six whiffs.


That sourness of the cherry smacks my cheeks, propelled by the souring bacteria. It's the tart, tannin-laden skin of the cherry and none of the sugar-added sweetness. It's exactly what I'd hoped it would be. Sifting through my second swig, I do get some of that brown sugar, and I'm finding an almost graham cracker pie crust quality. The caramel from the nose is gone, but that's okay--it would be a little too much here in the flavor profile.

Levanto Oscuro's mouthfeel is light and easy. Crisp, just like its bouquet and flavor profile. It's a damn refreshing summer sipper.

This reminds me of the summer before Michelle and I got married. We spent every weekend we could at her parents', working on stuff for the wedding. There was a day when we were were burning what we'd removed from the woods in the firepit out passed the house and barns. The day was wrapping up--man, was it a hot one--and we were welcoming the evening with the biggest bonfire I'd ever seen.

We'd pulled a trailer full of branches and boughs next to the inferno and unloaded it into the flames. Somehow, I got stuck between the trailer and the fire. My skin got nice and pink and I sweated buckets. It was hard work. It was fun. It was a tad dangerous. It would've been great to crack into a bottle of Levanto Oscuro after that.

You know, after three years in the cellar Madtree's  Levanto Oscuro is drinking beautifully. Aging sours is always great because the sourness kicks into hyperdrive over time. I'm happy to give my bottle an 8.5/10. I couldn't imagine drinking any other beer from my cellar today.

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