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Tuesday, 31 May 2011

European Beer #4 - Focus: Italy

Last, but certainly not least.  I have always loved Italy.  Sunny, cultured, relaxed and above all home of good food and wine.  I've enjoyed many trips to Italy, and savoured the fruits of their sun-kissed climes in many forms.  But I've never had a truly great beer there.  Some decent lagers admittedly (like Baffo Doro by Birra Moretti) but nothing close to a great real ale.
How happy was I then, to be confront by the image (left) of Allessio Leone with his offering from the Italian Brewers at the European Beer Bloggers Conference 2011.  Allessio is a great writer and arbiter of good taste when it comes to beer.  I was particularly pleased with the offerings he brought from Toccalmatto brewery.  My favourite being the "Surfing hop" pictured below.   

 A dark chestunut coloured double IPA, heavily dry hopped with Amarillo, it pretty much combines two of my favourite styles - the rich fruity alcohol of the dubbel or barley wine style, with overriding hop notes of a grassy IPA floating along on top.  So I was in absolute heaven, and very happy to make off with an extra sample at the end of the night.  (Thanks Alessio).

Other notable brews included:

BIA ("Birra Italiana Artiginale")  IPA.  A big drinking IPA with an aromatic metallic nose and deep spicy body (watch out for the huge chunks of yeast though).

Birrificio's smoky but light Porter, "L'Olmaia".  Huge natural carbonation gave it very fine sparkle, which cut through the bold flavours.  Almost black in appearance, the highly roasted malts produced an intense smoky, earthy nose and rich palate like drinking a log fire.

And finally the Amber Shock was also a noteably rich fruity number which tickled my tastebuds, but I failed to note more than that, being quite late of the evening at time of drinking.

And so ends my whistlestop tour of Europe (without actually leaving London).  I hope your tastebuds are whetted, and when next on the continent you'll scour the bars and shelves for a flash of the rare, a hint of the interesting.  They're clearly hard to find, but like most of the best things when travelling, well worth the effort.

1 comment:

  1. Hi dude, thanks for taking time to write such good words for the Italian beers I brought to the Conference. Much appreciated.