Monday, January 26, 2009

Birra Italiano -- Updated and updated again.

Tomm Carroll bought back a bunch of beers from his recent Italian trip (click on "Italy" in the sidebar) and he graciously shared them with a bunch of us last night. Added to the mix were some beers he and Scott Burnell had picked up here in the states.

So here's what we drank...

(Click on the picture, it is quite impressive)

and not a Peroni or Moretti in the bunch.

These are the beers, basically from right to left -- format is:
Brewery (region), beer, abv% (notes)

  • Piazza dei Mestierei (Turin), Manet, 5% (a Kölsch style ale but unfiltered)
  • Borgo (Lazio), , 4.2% (a Saison with Shiu Hsien tea leaves)
  • Ducato (Emilia Romagna), Nuova Mattina, 5.8% (a Saison with ginger, corriander, green pepper and chamomile)
  • Piccolo (Liguria), Seson, 6% (a Saison with juniper chiotto peel, coriander, cane sugar and matured in Chardonnay barraels)
  • Como (Lombardia), Birolla Malthus, 6.5% (ale with chestnut meal and honey)
  • Baladin (Piozzo), Nora 2006, 6.8% (ale with kamut, myrrh, ginger, orange peel)
  • Montegioco (Piedmont), Quarta Run, 7% (ale with fresh peaches)
  • Italiano (Turin), Scires, 7.5%, (ale with cherries)
  • Torino (Turin), Birra di Natale, 7.4% (Winter Warmer with honey)
  • Maltus Faber (Genova), Brune, 8% (Belgian style brown ale)
  • Montegioco (Piedmont), Demon Hunter, 8.5% (Dark ale)
  • Grado Plato (Fasano), Chocarrubica, 7% (Stout with carob and cacao beans)
  • Troll (Vernante), Shangrila, 8.5% (ale with 12 Himalayan spices: tandoori, curry, anise, etc.)
  • Lambrate (Milano), Ghisa, 5% (Stout with Weyermann rauch malt)
  • Almond'22 (Abruzzo), Torbata, 8.7% (Peat smoked barleywine with chestnut honey and orange zest)
  • Baladin (Piozzo), Xyauyù Silver,13.5% (Oxidized 2005 barleywine using a sherry process)

As is usual with these sort of things, my notes got shorter, more cryptic and less legible as the day wore on. So I'll just hit the high points.

First, all of these beers were well made and tasty. None of them had any major flaws and if you get a chance to taste any of them, I would do it.

The first beer, Manet, called itself a Kölsch and while it was a close as any American version I've tasted, it didn't have the "snap" of an authentic Kölsch.

The most in artful comment was made when I tasted the Nouva Mattina Saison. "It reminds me of soap" I said, which usually is the kiss of death in a beer tasting.   What I meant was the combination of spices reminded me of those fancy soaps you find on a little dish in the guest bathroom of somebody whose house actually has a decor. I liked this beer, so I meant it as a compliment. Really.

The Torrino Birra di Natale called itself a "Winter Warmer" and it was clearly inspired by Samuel Smith's "Winter Warmer."  It wasn't a clone and I'm sure it wasn't intended to be, but you could taste in inspiration. 

The Troll Shangrila (made with Himalayan spices) was the most unusual beer. My only written comment was "Wow!!"  I would like to try it again with food, there was so much going on there you need so other flavors to compliment and contrast.

The Lambrate Ghisa (with smoked malt) didn't really work for me. You often get a bit of smokiness in stouts from the roasted grains and it I didn't think they went well together. 

The Maltis Faber Brune suffered in comparison with the other beers, I think, because there were no special ingredients. I would like to taste this one again, but by itself or at a start of a tasting.

The star of the tasting, by (I think) unanimous consent was the Baladin Xyanyù. It reminded me of a well aged 10+ year old Stille Nacht. More, please.

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