When we think of the great craft beer nations of the world, Italy is probably not the first one that comes to mind. However, over the last couple of decades Italy has seen its microbreweries grow from just a handful to over 400 at present. There has been a real push for quality and luxury within Italian craft brewing and this is exactly what's to be found in our two featured beers: My Antonia and Re Ale from Birra Del Borgo.
The first thing one notices about these beers is the striking bottle shape and labelling, a common theme in the modern Italian craft beer movement. These beers really do have an air of prestige about them, something not uncommon to Italian craftsmanship.
Described as a "Continually-hopped Imperial Pils", My Antonia sits alongside Nogne O's Premiant Imperial India Pilsner and ,the new to Ireland, Christoffel Noble in the "I can't believe it's not DIPA" category of lagers which seem to be making a bit of a name for themselves lately. Being brewed in collaboration with Delaware's Dogfish Head brewery (who also recently collaborated with Charles Wells for "DNA New World IPA") would go quite a way to explaining the full-on tropical-hopped American edge this beer immediately demonstrates with pineapple, mango and citrus bombast towering over honey undertones. The palate is round and full with sweet biscuit malt surrounded by tangy tropical tartness and just a hint of pine on what is a very smooth finish for a 7.5% abv beer.
Re Ale is an American style pale ale that pours dark hazy amber with a thick, fluffy off-white head. The aroma is of mandarins and grapefruit while the palate has a sticky toffee maltiness finished with a bitter, spicy hop character that lingers just the right amount. At 6.4% abv it's not too strong, although certainly not light, and definitely one to be savoured.
It's safe to say the luxury suggested by the presentation is most certainly carried through to the important part!
Cin Cin indeed!