Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Mention “Italian beer” to any beer drinker with a moderately-evolved palate, and until two years ago those two words would have been met with hoots of derision & outright mockery until you were forced to hang your head in shame. Nothing’s worse that getting all psyched up for a nice Italian meal, only to find the only beer choices being those “premium” Italian beers PERONI and MORETTI. Gross. Give me Coors Extra Gold or Blatz Light any day. Word on the street is that there’s this new wave of Italian brewers, bold risk-takers in the middle of one of the world’s great wine countries who are crafting incredible artisanal ales, some of which are starting to be sent over into North America for beer dork contemplation. Me, I’ve been looking for the right beer to get involved in the Italian scene. I believe based on last night’s evidence that I am still looking.

Johnny over at MONTEREY DELI – the outstanding beer store/market a mere two blocks from my house – got in this new Italian beer in a funny-looking bottle by an Italian brewer called ORO DI MILANO called RISERVA SPECIALE. He hadn’t tried it yet, so I decided that I would. It may be that I’m “breaking” this beer in the Northern Califorina market. It’s a dubious honor. ORO DI MILANO RISERVA SPECIALE is definitely a major jump above the Italian macros, but considering that those are undrinkable, it’s a small step to scale. This one’s still trending toward the “macro ale” side of the ledger, with an intense, off-putting malty sweetness that really defines and overwhelms the beer. It’s 8.2% alcohol, but the sugary sweetness tastes like a by-product of the malts, and I dunno, it’s just not done in a way that hits me where I live. Light, nearly opaque amber (they call it a “brown amber ale”), this has a thin-to-medium body, with tastes of really light caramel and even liqueurs. Yeah, that’s it – it’s like those cheapo liqueur-filled candies you get in those phony chocolate bottles of Jameson Whiskey, except this has a grainy, malty beer taste instead. I’m none too impressed. Who out there knows of a really stupendous Italian beer I can drop some coin on instead? 5/10.

1 comment:

An Intemperate Man said...

It may be a bit of an anomaly in the ever expanding world of mostly mediocre Italian craft beer, but Panil Barriquée is probably the best example of a Flemish-style sour red ale currently being brewed anywhere in the world.