This past Friday (July 21, 2017 to be exact) was Belgian Independence Day. Earlier that week, I received an email from PR firm Punch Media announcing a series of Belgian Independence Day inspired events that would be taking place at City Tap House University City, Devil’s Den, and Capofitto in Philadelphia where Belgian dishes, Belgian beers, and a gelato made with the Ommegang brewed Belgian style beer that you see in the photo up above would be served over the course of the weekend. It would have been fun to attend these events, but thanks to a full schedule with the family, bar hopping in Philly just wasn’t in the cards.
Since I couldn’t make it out to the bars that weekend and was intrigued by the gelato made with Ommegang Rosetta, I reached out to Capogiro Gelto Artisans, the makers of this collaborative concoction, to see if I could (a) get the back story as to how this gelato creation came about and (b) give it a try. After a bit of back and forth emailing, we scheduled a tasting at Capofitto (Capogiro’s pizzeria/gelateria in Old City) for Thursday, July 20th at 4PM where I would be meeting with Kristy Gilboy, Capogiro’s Director of Sales and Marketing.
Here’s all that went down during our brief gelato tasting session…
G-LO: Hi Kristy! Before we get started, tell us a little bit about what you do at Capogiro.
Kristy Gilboy (KG): Hey there, G-LO! I’m the Director of Sales and Marketing for Capogiro. I also manage marketing and social media for Capofitto, our Old City pizzeria and gelateria.
G-LO: You’re a busy lady! Now that we know who you are and what you do, let’s find out more about the gelato that I’m here to taste. How did this delicious sounding gelato / Belgian style beer collaboration between Capogiro and Ommegang come about?
KG: It all started during Philly Beer Week 2017. While we were at an Ommegang event at The POPE [aka the Pub on Passyunk East] in South Philly, I had a conversation with my friend Megan [Megan Maguire, Pennsylvania and Delaware Market Manager for Ommegang Brewery and Duvel Moortgat] and the topic of beer flavored gelato came up. She said, “Why don’t you do something with one of our beers?”. We obviously agreed to work with them or you wouldn’t be here right now to talk about it.
G-LO: It’s good to have friends! Ommegang has quite an extensive range of beers (6 year round beers and a plethora of seasonal and limited edition releases), so how did you settle on Rosetta as the beer you would use for this gelato?
KG: The reason we chose Rosetta has to do with the person that inspired it’s creation. Rosetta was created in honor of Madame Rosa Merckx who started as a secretary at ummm… I forget the brewery…
G-LO: Oh I know! It was ummm…
Finger snaps ensue to jog our respective memories…
KG: It’s… It’s…
G-LO: I think it’s whoever does the Lambics or Sours or whatever they are. I wrote this beer up when it was first released and I actually went back and reread my blog post before our meeting. And yet I still can’t remember the name of the brewery where she works. Sucks getting old!
KG: It’s not Brasserie D’Achouffe, but it’s something like…
G-LO: No, it’s not D’Achouffe, but I know who you mean…
KG: It’s not Ommegang, it’s the other part of the company. It’s part of Duvel, who owns Ommegang, but it’s not Duvel. It’s one of their sister breweries.
G-LO: Liefmans? Was that it? And then she became the Brewmaster.
KG: Liefmans! That’s it! Anyway, Madame Rosa was the first female Master Brewer in Belgium. She’s currently in her 90s and still walks around the brewery over there. Since Stephanie [Reitano] is America’s first female Gelataia [that’s Italian for gelato maker], making a gelato with a beer that was created in honor of Belgium’s first female Master Brewer made perfect sense to us on many levels. We’re really pleased with how the gelato came out and think the flavor of the finished product is excellent.
G-LO: I haven’t had Rosetta in a couple of years, but I remember really liking it.
KG: We actually made a float with it at the South Street Beer Garden the other night.
G-LO: With the beer?
KG: Yeah. And it wasn’t even intentional. The bartenders made it with the Rosetta gelato and Rosetta beer and absolutely loved it. They want to make them all summer long!
G-LO: Isn’t Rosetta a year round beer for Ommegang?
KG: It is.
G-LO: So when you make the gelato, do you use the beer as-is, or do you have to reduce it down to burn off the alcohol and concentrate the flavors?
KG: I spoke with our production manager about that, and he said that the amount of beer [or any other beverage that contains alcohol] used in each batch is based upon the sugar content of the alcohol.
G-LO: How big is a batch?
KG: On average, it’s around 2 gallons. To give you an idea as to how much the amount of alcohol used will vary, the five liter pan of Rosetta that’s in our gelato case was made with four bottles of Rosetta beer.
G-LO: So you used the whole beer. It wasn’t reduced down or anything.
KG: Correct. The beer isn’t concentrated in any way. The only time we use a reduction is when making wine flavors of gelato, though I’m not sure of the scientific reason for that. What I do know is that it’s all about the sugar content and making sure that there’s enough of it to maintain the luscious and creamy consistency that we’re known for.
G-LO: Is Rosetta a flavor that you would consider making available year round, or was this made just for Belgian Independence Day?
KG: For now, we’re only making Rosetta for this event. But who knows! We’ve talked to Megan about possibly featuring this flavor until the end of August.
G-LO: So what’s the base for this gelato?
KG: We use a white base for Rosetta. Our Fior di Latte flavor.
G-LO: Did you add anything other than this beer to the Fior di Latte?
KG: For this particular flavor, because Rosetta is so rich and flavorful, all we needed to add was the beer. So would you like to try the gelato?
G-LO: Absolutely! You don’t have to ask me twice. It is why I’m here after all.
A couple minutes pass and KG comes back with a heaping scoop of Rosetta gelato which looked exactly like this…
KG: Here you go!
G-LO: It’s much lighter in color than I was expecting.
KG: Like I said, the Rosetta beer is blended in with our Fior di Latte base which is pretty much pure white. You should go in for a taste before it melts!
G-LO: Will do! I’m going in…
KG: So what do you think?
G-LO: As expected, it’s as smooth and creamy as all of your other gelato flavors. At first, all I taste is lightly sweetened cream and it takes a few seconds for the beer flavors to come through. It has a subtle taste of cherry, almost Luxardo Maraschino or Amarena Fabbri like. After that it gets a little malty and then the sweet cream flavors come through again, along with some vanilla.
KG: I agree. This isn’t over the top at all. Not overly sweet or tart. So did you like it?
G-LO: Absolutely! I totally get how this would work in a Rosetta float. Whenever I get gelato here, I always go for two flavors. I wonder how this would go with your dark or milk chocolate gelato. I’m thinking chocolate covered cherries. I’ll have to try that combination next time.
KG: I’m glad you enjoyed it.
G-LO: I’ve been coming here for over a decade and have yet to have a bad experience, so I knew I would like this. As I tell my friends, this is easily the best gelato available outside of Italy. Thanks for taking the time to meet with me!
So there you have it. A supremely delicious gelato made with Ommegang Rosetta. If you’re ever in Philly, be sure to stop in to Capogiro. Even if Rosetta isn’t available, I’m sure you’ll find some other delicious flavor to satisfy your gelato craving!
Let’s end this post with a gelato inspired song…