Beer may not be the first thing we think of when someone mentions Italy, but believe it or not, Italian craft beer is on the rise. I first read about this phenomenon in the New York Times and Saveur, but up until this past Sunday, I had yet to try any of the beers mentioned in those articles (I have had the My Antonia, which was a collaboration between Dogfish Head and Italy’s Birra del Borgo, but the version I had was brewed and bottled in the US, so I guess it doesn’t count as an Italian craft beer). While I have seen some of these beers in a few retailers, I’ve been hesitant to make a purchase, since they tend to be quite expensive (the Nora costs $17).
So what prompted me to finally take the plunge and buy one of these beers? Two factors were involved…
- A walk through Eataly during my recent weekend in Manhattan. They stocked an impressive array of Italian beers.
- Our friend Jim from the Beer & Whiskey Brothers blog also took a walk through Eataly and had this beer recommended to him by none other than Mr. Dogfish Head himself, Sam Calagione.
Here’s what my Paesanos at Birra Baladin have to say about this beer:
“Dal colore ambra aranciato, con schiuma abbondante mediamente persistente. Al naso intense note speziate di zenzero e insieme di agrumi. Al palato ritornano delicatamente le spezie con note di canditi e frutti esotici in un piacevole “zuccherino” molto ben equilibrato.”
Were you actually expecting them to write it up in English? Here’s a very rough translation courtesy of Google Translate:
“From the orange-amber color, with abundant foam average persistent. Intense nose with spicy notes of ginger and citrus. Back gently on the palate with hints of spices and candied tropical fruits in a pleasant “sweet” very well balanced.”
Like most things in life, it always sounds better in Italian. But how does it taste? Let’s find out…
- Appearance: Made a loud hissing noise when I first opened it. Very loud pour, i.e. it bubbled and fizzed like crazy as I filled the glass, much like a bottle of Champagne or Asti Spumante. Fast rising, fluffy head which dissipates very slowly. Cloudy, pale orange color.
- Aroma: Ginger. Apple cider. Lemon zest.
- Flavor: Lots of carbonation. Very tart at first. Tasted like a Hard Apple Cider/Riesling/Saison mash-up. Dry, puckering, and long-lasting finish.
- ABV: 6.8%
Much like the beers from Brasserie Dupont, the Birra Baladin Nora is one funky brew. It has a very crisp, dry palate that coats your mouth and doesn’t let go. I shared this bottle with The Alemonger and he thought that this beer would go really well with sushi. I’m thinking it would also go very well with tempura. Overall, I thought this was a really delicious and complex brew. The Birra Baladin Nora has definitely piqued my interest about Italy’s other craft beer offerings. I just wish they were less expensive!