Tag Archive: Italy


BioNoc’: Asso Di Coppe Impombera (Italy: Sour Ale: 6% ABV)

Visual: Deep black cherry red. Clear body. Thin dash of a reddened head. Small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Cherries. Tart raspberry. Clean. Light twigs. Tart. Blueberry.

Body: Dry. Tannins. Brown bread. Yellow raspberries. Black cherry and red cherry. White wine. Gooseberry.

Finish: Full and tart raspberries. Astringent. Light wood shavings. Gooseberry. Yellow raspberry. Jammy blueberry.

Conclusion: This is dry, almost wine like and matched with a very fruity take on a red wine in how it uses the berries, matched against a crisp, kind of lambic like take on a sour base character. Initially the beer is slightly closed, but as you get used to the dryness it really opens up into a range of tart fruit. Until that though, well it isn’t Cantillon level mouth puckering but it is very well attenuated.

The fruit pushes the raspberry tartness up front, with a darker set of black cherry like fruit notes and such making for a sweet but still refreshingly tart backing note. Time lets a more jammy sweetness come out, making fuller notes that had been hinted at before. The aroma especially hinted at sweeter notes that only really develop in the body later on.

This is very good, initially dry and wine like, later on full bodied and, erm, wine like but a different kind of wine. Always fruity giving a good range of fruit notes from raspberry, through puckering gooseberry and into sweeter cherries. Only slightly closed a for a short while, and for the rest progressing in delicious and fascinating ways.

Very much worth getting your hands on, this is a treat of a fruit sour.

Background: Second and final bottle that I brought back from the Arrogant Sour Beer Festival at Moor’s Tap Room. This is from a brewery I have not encountered before, but was highly recommended, and looks to have had a few awards so I decided to give it a go. I googled what an Impombera was and ended up very confused. Anyway, by googling the beer I found out it is a raspberry sour, so I presume at least one of the many variants has a raspberry style fruit. Had just picked up Slipknot – We Are Not Your Kind so put that on as background music. Had heard it was a return to form and, yeah it is amazing, heavy and brutal. Thought I was slightly going off Slipknot but nope, I am back in.

Stavio: Birrozzo Pinotto 2014 (Italy: Sour Ale: 7.5%)

Visual: Hazy apricot. Rim of white bubbles instead of a head.

Nose: Musty and thick. Dry sultanas. Light charred oak. Dry Madeira. Earthy Pinot Noir. Dry apricot.

Body: Smooth. Raisins and sultanas. Earthy. Plums. Earthy bitterness. Brown bread. Slight sour dough. Thick mouthfeel. Strawberry.

Finish: Plums. Earthy and mild spice. Coriander. Sour dough. Dry. Sour red wine. Tannins and tea. Strawberry. Slight acidic freshness.

Conclusion: I think this is the first beer of the festival that comes under the heading of a well made beer, but not one for me. It is very smooth, yet nicely chewable – so the mouthfeel is nicely balanced. It is dry, with lots of the earthier side of a European Pinot Noir and rumblings of darker notes below. I can appreciate it on a technical level, but something about that means that it just doesn’t grab me. I’ll have to examine more and try and work out why, please indulge me on this.

Even with that said though, it is not like I actively dislike this, I am finding a lot to examine here. There are subtle strawberry notes, dried apricot, light spices. I can 100% see how this could be someone’s favourite beer. There is so much depth, slight acidic dryness and a heavy, earthy style.

I think that it is that earthiness that, for me, does not work. I prefer the more booming, fruity, New World Pinot Noirs compared to the more earthy European versions, and so here it feels like the earthy taste gets clinging. But that is a personal thing not a problem with the beer. It is especially notable in combination with the dryness, which adds to the harsher elements. What I can say on the positive side of things is that the middle of the body gives some sweet release from that – this is where the fruit notes balance the earthiness and there I can start to get into this.

So, very well made, and feels like it should be really good, but not quite for me. As always I hope I have given enough information here for you to know if it is for you.

Background: Another beer tried at the Arrogant Sour Beer festival at the Moor Tap-Room. Was a bit unsure as the booklet description said that this was Cedar aged, however it was right next to an entry called Birrozzo Cedro that said it was Pinot Noir aged. A quick check confirmed the two entries has been mixed up. Also confusing is the abv. The label said 7.5% abv, the booklet 6.5% ABV and the Cedro was 6.8% abv so it wasn’t just those being mixed up. Anyway, a Pinot Noir aged sour. Let’s go!

Birrificio Del Ducato La Luna Rossa Cuvee 2014

Birrificio Del Ducato: La Luna Rossa: Cuvee 2014 (Italy: Wild Ale: 8% AVC)

Visual: Deep mauve to tomato juice red. Very cloudy body and virtually no head.

Nose: Black-cherry yogurt. Light wood notes. Very clean. Red cherries. Tart apples.

Body: Tart apples. Vinegar touch. Tart raspberries. Black cherries. Mild wood. Sour lemons. Tomato juice. Acidic at back of the throat.

Finish: Tart apples and cider. Tart raspberries. Sour sweets. Lemon juice. Tomatoes. Robust black cherry. Raspberries.

Conclusion: Nothing about this beer is as I expected. It pours dark, like cloudy fruit juice, rather than the bright red clear beer that I expected. Its acidic aroma and tastes are delivered remarkably cleanly, without a lot of the holographic like shimmering flavours you tend to get with sour beers. The actual flavour and impression on the eye can tend towards a form of tart tomato juice as much as the more expected cherries. I was not expecting tomato flavours in this, let me tell you that. Even when you get cherries it tends towards black-cherries and delivers it with raspberry like tartness. So, yeah, not in any way what I expected.

Also, this seems to be influenced by Rodenbach Grand Cru, in that it can be vinegar touched levels of sour at times, though, again, without those holographic flavour notes of that beer. I feel like I should be comparing it to Rodenbach Caractere Rouge, as it keeps that vinegar roughness, which that beer did not, but this does not match that beer’s complexity, so despite similarities of fruit, and Rodenbach character they are not as alike as you would think.

It is a bit of a half and half beer for me. I respect the utter cleanness of flavour it delivers without losing the sour intensity, but I am disappointed that it does not bring with it an equivalent complexity beer. Also, tomato notes are really not my thing, so I could do without that aspect of it.

I would call it a clever beer, but not a good one for me. Without those tomato flavours I think I would have had fun with it, but they just seem to intrude into what is good with the beer. So, overall I can’t get into it despite its impressively brutal sour character.

Background: Ok, I don’t speak any Italian I am afraid to say, so had to google for what this one was. So apparently it is a mix of a new beer fermented in barrels for two years then Morello cherries added to it, with Ultima Luna which is a Barley Wine matured in Amarone (Dry red wine) barrels with cherries, and some young beer. Ok, unusual. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit and is the 11th of 200 bottles.

ReAle Extra

Birra Del Borgo: Re Ale Extra (Italy: IPA: 6.2% ABV)

Visual: Clear yellow. Moderate carbonation. Small white head. Leaves a lot of suds around the glass.

Nose: Crisp lemon and hops. Passion fruit and cheesecake.

Body: Custard. Shortbread. Lemon. Kiwi fruit. Lemon filled hops. Cheesecake. Sherbety. Light crisp bitterness. Green apples. Apricot and melon.

Finish: Kiwi cheesecake. Hop bitterness. Passion fruit. Lemon. Sprite. Jammy. Melon. Jolly ranchers.

Conclusion: Why is this 6.2% darn you? I could session this until I fall over. Which at 6.2% and my rubbish alcohol capacity would not be very long. This is a lovely fresh crisp beer, it mixes custard sweet, lemon fresh and lovely crisp hop bitterneess. It opens up so easily and welcomes you in, but keeps notes back, such as the green apples and kiwi that you only get rolling around underneath when you have had enough time to get used to the beer.

The light sweet notes are the ones put all up front, all cheesecake and sherbet – that is then backed up with that understated bitterness. There is a huge range of flavours, but no matter how many I find it always hints that there may be more underneath. Even after I found the kiwi and passion fruit I kept digging, trying to put words to the hints of elements that I could taste, their description just out of reach.

It is smooth of main body, ridden over by a light hop grit feel. As with taste, the texture hints that there may be more to be found.

But, I return again, why, darn you why is it 6.2%. I know, it is what they needed to make it taste as it does, and I know that some people consider 6.2% sessionable. For me though, I’m old school, and for me 6% and up is a big beer, I wish I could easily drink more of this.

A wonderful, balanced, bitter and easier to drink than its abv should be, beer. Feels like a Belgian IPA with its lovely texture. I don’t know if they used Belgian yeast, but that is how it feels. It has the excellent texture combined with remarkable hop use. So, yes, I am impressed.

Background: Huh, ratebeer says 6.4%, wonder if the keg version is slightly lower abv. It’s about time I returned to Birra Del Borgo, but they are so damn hard to find in the UK. This was found at The Beer Emporium, and as I settled down to review, some Willy Mason came on the sound system. Good tunes were following me that day I tell you, Also, just as I finished my review, some friends arrived, making for good chat as well. A very delightful day of coincidental joy. I approve.

Duvebeer

Loverbeer: D’uvaBeer (Italy: Sour Ale: 8% ABV)

Visual: Very robust cloudy and ruddy red. Large head that disappears to a coffee froth smattering pretty quickly.

Nose: Gooseberry. Shortbread and malt biscuits.

Body: Malt biscuits. Smoked meat. Slight cherries. Cider back. Raisins. Beer broth.

Finish: Smoke. Tannins. Dry and cleansing. Tart apples or cider. Raisins. Cloves. Malt biscuits.

Conclusion: I’m still trying to work out where I stand on this one. The sample I had intrigued me, the first sip of a full glass let me down. Now I’m at the half way point and it’s starting to win me back once more.

It is a beer that is slightly slow to develop, but when it does you get dark fruit layered over a cider like back. There is an omnipresent malt biscuit character. Malt biscuit over a tart backed beer? You can see my confusion surely?

Maybe it is because the tartness is so light for a wild beer, seemingly mellowed by the malt biscuit influence. It is like trying to examine two very different beers poured into one and then discern which characteristics belong to each.

While it doesn’t have the widest set of flavours, it does have a few base notes that it leverages well. I’m near the end of the beer and coming to the conclusion that it isn’t a show stopper but it’s ok, and the interesting elements it has have made it a good companion for the passing of an hour while reading (Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson in case you’re wondering)

A lightly sour dark fruit and raisins filled beer with a bit of Belgium led character behind. Both pleasant and fun. And soothing. Crap, you shouldn’t use “Both” with more that two characteristics. Ahh, you get the point anyway.

I’ll settle at describing it as an odd beer that earns its way. Not great but no regrets.

Background: Picked up at Brewdog Bristol. I’ve not tried any loverbeers before but since my experience with the new Italy craft beer scene has been pretty good so far I thought I would give it a go. It was bloody hot when I was drinking this, and I was having a glass of water between each alcoholic drink, so it warmed up pretty fast despite the fact I was hogging the air con.

24K Golden Ale

Brewfist: 24K Golden Ale (Italy: Golden Ale: 4.6% ABV)

Visual: Quite hazy lemon to dark yellow. Moderate off white head.

Nose; Slightly muted ground orange peel and passion fruit hops. Touch of apricot and lemon meringue.

Body: Zesty. Apricot and lemon. Sherbet feel yet creamy. Light bitterness. Cinnamon. Passion fruit.

Finish: Lemon sherbet and hops. Good bitterness. Cream. Passion fruit.

Conclusion: Not what I was expecting. I know Brewfist have quite a reputation for hoppy beers, so the more restrained character of this took me by surprise.

What it does have is a gentle level of hops, and a flavour that reminds me more of the Belgium style wit Isaac. The body is gentle and slightly creamy with passion fruit and a soft lemon flavour. It distinctly does not feel like a standard golden ale.

Isaac suffered a bit from being too light on the body, the extra hop fruitiness helps here but there is a similar underlying feel. Main body it is present but it doesn’t hit too hard, yet despite a nice bitterness the finish feels slightly light.

It is pleasant and smooth with just a touch of prickle to it. Not one I get wildly excited about but a nice beer for general drinking. I wouldn’t complain about it but can’t recommend specifically seeking it out either.

Background: Brewfist is the name most people have heard about the growing craft beer scene it Italy. It was definitely the fist name I heard. Yet, I’ve never tried any of their beers. So I decided this must change and grabbed this beer from Corks Of Cotham.  I decided to go with Golden IPA as I’ve been having a bit of an IPA overload recently, so thought something a bit different would be nice. Oddly whenever anyone asked my I could not remember for the life of me which beer I had picked up without looking. I may have drunk away my memory capabilities.

Del Borgo

Birra Del Borgo: Maledetta (Italy: Belgium Ale: 6.2% ABV)

Visual: Amber red. Off white thin small bubbly head. Leaves sheets of suds as it descends.

Nose: Condensed cream. Brown sugar. Funky yeast character. Ginger,

Body: Ginger. Jam and doughnuts. Smooth but with funky yeast. Lime. Gooseberry. Brown sugar. Lightly bitter. Coriander. Quite creamy. Toffee. Banana and cloves late on.

Finish: Lime jam. Gooseberry. Dry bitter hops.

Conclusion: Finally, a non collaboration beer from Del Borgo! So, how do they do when brewing on their own?

Actually? Pretty damn well.

It is an odd beer for what is described as a Belgium style ale. Distinctly Belgium Style I will admit, the funky yeast laughs at you if you try to deny that. What is unusual is the spicy ginger zest, tart lime and gooseberry touches. The body is thick, and was referred to as “Jammy” by Brewdog staff which I think is an impeccable call. I would add Doughnut like in as well, the thick and creamy texture feels very bready and with the jammyness gives a very doughnut like feel.

There is spice, which is a common feature of Belgium beers, but here it is ginger and more dry and prickly that the Belgium take.  It seems to be doing the Belgium thing but in its own idiosyncratic way.

So sweet, but not the Belgium richness, spicy but dry, funky but doughnut like. Respectful but its own thing.

Jamminess really is the word, even the gooseberry and lime feels like a jam (or marmalade) take on it. Fills well mid body then dry and spicy to the end.  You don’t always get the element massively evident, the sweetness can wane or swell to soaring crescendo but it always has some influence.

Very much makes you take your time to enjoy the journey from sweet to spice throughout its life and in that it is most authentically like the Belgium ales in that it rewards you for patience, it is also the trait that I feel is the most important for it to authentically reproduce.

A sweet jammy thick but funky textured ale with dry spice and rich character. The first sole De Borgo beer I have had and they are showing great skill and class here.

Background: Italy is one of those beer scenes that has people raving right now, and Birra Del Borgo is one of the names you hear bandied around a lot. I’ve tried two beers from them before, but both as collaborations. This, drunk at Brewdog Bristol, is a chance to try them standing on their own two legs.  Had on tap, which meant I didn’t get chance to take a pic of the bottle which is a pity as it is very eye catching  and pretty. According to the info I copied into google translate this is a variant on Re Ale. Huh, would not have called that. The jamminess was an element staff had mentioned, and when I sipped it I couldn’t help but notice so I can’t take credit for that one.

CIMG2161

Birra Del Borgo: Dogfish Head: My Antonia (Italy: Imperial Pils: 7.5% ABV)

Visual: Yellow to gold. Large custard sudded yellowed head.

Nose: Custard. Peach and hops. Very good hoppiness of a clinging style. Light toffee.

Body: Bitter but not too heavy. Apricot. Very smooth creamy texture. Custard. Cinnamon. Granite rough touch very occasionally. Tangerine.

Finish: Creamy. Moderate bitterness. Cinnamon. Hops. Peach and grapefruit.

Conclusion: I love the words continually hopped. I’ve never seen a beer with those words attached that turned out to be a bad beer. Guess it helps that I normally see them linked with Dogfish Head beers.  Normally I see them linked with IPA’s, here linked to an Imperial Pils it ends up with a beer that pretty much destroys any expectations of the style that I had.

Now, that does mean as an example of the style it may not be the best. As a beer however? Damn!

It is smooth, creamy, lots of apricot fruitiness and with solid but not extreme bitterness. I can really see the dogfish head influence stamped over the hop style. It is very much like a lager take on their 90 minute IPA. I’ve yet to get a full grip of the Birra Del Borgo style, but this matches the quality I have seen from them so far.

It is an easy drinking Imperial Pils,  IPA like beer then. As you would expect it is lighter than an IPA and with dominance of a few key flavours rather than a larger range, but with good bitterness and well defined aroma and flavour.

Tastes almost Belgium yeast IPA style in smoothness. It has that creamy full texture to it that I would associate with that style. There is very little bad to say about this beer. Maybe not what you expect from a pils, maybe a half way point between pils and IPA and if you prefer either style a pure example would do that better.  However, sod it, this is lovely.

It is eminently drinkable, well hopped and flavoursome with good texture. You may prefer more pure styled beers at the top of their style but I can’t see anyone being disappointed with this delicious beer.

Background: After the last Birra Del Borgo I had, their collaboration with Brewdog, I decided I really should try more of their stuff to get a feel fro their brewery. So I did, another collaboration. One day I must try a beer they just made themselves. From the look of it there are two versions of this beer, the dogfish head and the Birra Del Borgo. This is the Birra Del Borgo. This beer was drunk at Brewdog Bristol after a long discussion with the staff on exactly which beer I should try next. So blame them. Honest. I love Dogfish head beers but they are very hard to get over in the UK these days as they are concentration on supplying the USA. Not seen the Dogfish Head version anywhere. I wonder if any of the booze dancers have given it a review? (Edit: Answer: Yes, Yes they do)

CIMG2110

Birra Del Borgo: Brewdog: ReAle In A Kilt (Italy: Scotch Ale: 8.4% ABV)

Visual: Caramel to brown, large loose mounded froth for a head of custard cream biscuit colour. Head leaves lace around the glass.

Nose: Smoked kippers. Pineapple. Smoked salami. Muted cherry. Marmalade. Cinnamon.

Body: Smoked and rocks. Cherry and fruitcake. Marmalade and grapefruit.

Finish: Peat. Salt and smoke. Tangerines. Pink grapefruit tart tang.

Conclusion: So, a peat smoked beer. With the peat smoked golden ale Rex Attitude I wanted more complexity. Here comes a contender, how does it do? Initially it seems very smoky and heavy, lots of peat, smoked kippers and meat. Not very subtle.  This was pretty heavily chilled down due to the current cold snap.

Then to my surprise marmalade in a Dalmore style started showing up, then sharp pink grapefruit pushed through.  There is some of the expected scotch ale fruitcake flavours but only really as a backing for the fresh sharp hops and heavy smoke.

I will give Rex Attitude the advantage in being a bigger and more “event” beer, but this beer gives much more flavour and intrigue which is what I look for in a beer combined with the nice peat smoke element . This beer has a similar clash of expectations to Rex Attitude as well. There it has the huge peat versus golden ale, here it is the sharp citrus against peat.   Frankly it makes me intrigued to try more from the Italian brewer as the base beer seems to be what makes it special, with the Brewdog contribution a flourish on top.  I would have to try the base beer to confirm but that is the current impression I get.

I have tried this beer at warmer temperatures and I found the peat smoke dominates too much like that. Much as this would shock the younger writing version of me I would say that you want to give this a nice bit of chilling down to let the citrus come out a bit.

A tangerine tart, citrus, peat smoked beer. That is just mixed up, fun, and gives you a lot of room to play and enjoy.  A well balanced and thoroughly fun beer.

(Note: You know, I don’t mind not drinking bad beers, but if my reviews keep being this positive people are going to think I’ve gone soft in my old age)

Background: Bloody mid word capitalization, and yes I do realise with my number of grammatical and spelling errors I am in no position to question a deliberate stylistic choice. Still…In good news a chance to break out the thistle glass again, I love the look of it, but it is a tad silly for most beers. Thought it gets more use than my Kwak glass. Maybe I should get in some more Belgium beers so I have an excuse to bring it out. I’ve not tried the original ReAle but this collaboration is a tweaked version of that which uses much more peat smoked malt if I remember correctly. Italy is meant to be the up and coming exciting place in the craft beer scene right now. Yet I’ve drunk nearly nothing from there. I really should sort that out at some point.

Baladin: Isaac (Italy: Belgium Witbier:5% ABV)

Visual: Light, slightly bitty. A thin yellowed colour, its slightly steamy nature adds a bit more weight to an otherwise weak colour. When poured a fizz bubbles out, but never fully forms to a head.

Nose: Light lemon, slightly sherbet texture. Lots of wheat and a bit of cream. Cellar edge and ginger snaps.

Body: Ginger is the first obvious notes, brown sugar and traditional style lemonade. Honey, bitterness can be found as you roll it round your mouth but you have to go looking for it. Lemon meringue and pineapple.

Finish: Brown sugar, slightly dry and acidic. More traditional lemonade. Apples and custard.

Conclusion: Very easily drinkable, you can see why it comes in a large bottle.

The slight spiciness and ginger makes what would be otherwise a too thin body remarkably drinkable- It would session fantastically, the abv is just a smidge too high but you don’t feel it in the taste. The subtle notes allow for a beer you can keep drinking, though as it’s not the most complex of beers you feel it would be best taken with conversation with friends. Buy in a batch of bottles and keep the group hydrated throughout.

So, a remarkable sipping drink, fine for casual conversation and with enough to keep you interested with its light and fruity nature, though not particularly weighty.

It feels like a perfect beer for watching a sunset, in that moment between a summer day’s lager and a cold nights porter.

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