The Tasting Panel magazine

May 2011

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Page 62 of 132

GADD’S SIXPACK FROM CAFFÉ LAGERS TO CRAFT ALES, ITALIAN BEERS GET SOME LOVE That’s Amore by David Gadd Birra Moretti La Rosa The auburn ale sibling to Moretti lager has one of the most voluptuous mouthfeels in all of beerdom—like drinking Sophia Loren circa 1966. Beautiful chestnut tone to the eye, with a mousse-like head that clings to the side of the glass the way spice-cake batter coated Mom’s wooden spoon. The stuff purrs on the palate, with semi- sweet malt notes and overtones of fine, bitter hops. Now what did I do with my Mantovani collection? TOTAL BEVERAGE SOLUTION Peroni Nastro Azzurro Nastro Azzurro is named for the Blue Riband, a prize awarded to the fastest Atlantic crossing by a passenger ship and won by the Italian vessel Rex in 1933. Ancient history, sure, but this premium brand, owned since 2005 by SABMiller, is now a ubiquitous representative of Italian lager worldwide. From its white-gold color to its clean, malty nose to its crisp, rapier-like attack on the thirsty palate, it gets the job done with Italian panache. The clenchingly bitter finish is the prelude to another round. An all-round caffé quaffer. SABMILLER Oro di Milano Riserva Speciale When we first introduced the Oro di Milano beers (January-February 2010 issue), I was impressed with the Puro Malto and Doppio Malto expressions, but the Riserva Speciale really wowed. With 8.2 percent alcohol, lacquer-like texture and notes of deep spice and red fruit, it’s as serious as a vendetta and nearly as fun. Play it safe with the 33-ml.bottles or live dangerously with a big 750. Wine drinkers will love it. BRAVO BEVERAGE Baladin Nora Try and try and try again, but you will not find a bottle of Baladin Nora at retail in Los Angeles—or so it seems. So this is not a review but a mere mention of a beer I’m dying to get my hands on. This rare Italian entry is made from a heritage wheat strain that goes back to ancient Egypt and uses ginger, orange peel and myrrh for flavor- ing. Evidently, a beer of Biblical proportions. B. UNITED INTL. Brùton Lilith The massive cumulus head on this luscious Italian ale piles itself up in the glass like a batch of rum dunder. Because it smells so fruity and forward, rather than spooning the foam off, I spoon it out and devour it. The beer itself is hazy amber with a tint of golden apricot—a dominant fruit note that gets repeated on the palate, where full-on summery apricot flavors explode softly against the tongue like crushed stone fruit. Deliriously delicious. SPECIALTY CELLARS Brùton Momus The head lies low, like a Via Veneto playboy after losing his Lambo at chemin de fer, but the nose is packed with dried figs and dates, with a dose of clover honey thrown in for good measure. On the palate, the stuff turns positively Apician, with dense, involved dried fruit, cocoa nibs and African spice notes that would bring a smile to the pouty lips of the most jaded Roman emperor. Momus was the god of satire, mockery and unfair criticism; may he smite me if I lie. SPECIALTY CELLARS Newly-imported from Lucca, the out- standing beers from Brùton have proved the surprise of the year so far. Taking Belgian ales as their model, they improvise on the theme with sprezzatura— effort- less Italian virtuosity—and a real touch of class. Brilliant packaging makes them irresistible. Here are just two of my favorites in the portfolio, which is brilliant across the board. 62 / the tasting panel / may 201 1

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