Another Italian beer now from my time in Venice last month, this one is my first beer from the Birrificio brewery based near Milan in the north of the country and was the first beer they brewed after launching in 1996. The beer is also one that features in the 1001 beers list and give me a chance to mark off only my second beer from the country from the list, following on from the bottle of Re Ale from Birra del Borgo that I reviewed here a couple of years ago. The beer (and my trip of Venice) has also given me a chance to finally increase my count of Italian beers which was sitting at a total of 7 before my visited but will at least have made double digits once I’ve finished adding my reviews here.
Appearance (4/5): Quite a light looking, almost lemon yellow colour that is fairly cloudy and topped with a thick looking, two centimetre tall head that is quite foamy and holds well throughout, staying at a fairly consistent height.
Aroma (7/10): The beer is quite a fresh smelling one with some citrus and strong lemon notes initially, there was some pilsner style malts too and a bit of hay. A few grassy hops made themselves known with a few zesty notes and some floral ones as well, there was some bread and touches of grain to see things out.
Taste (7/10): The taste starts with some nice citrus and grain as well as a few pilsner malts, bread and the lemon from the nose. There was some faint hops making an appearance alongside grassy notes and some hay but the fresh, floral flavours seemed to dominate.
Palate (4/5): Light-medium bodied with some grain but it seemed to be a smooth beer for the most part. It was quite a refreshing beer thanks to the citrus and this also gave it a dry, sharp feel that had a pleasant tang to it as well.
Overall (13/20): This one was an odd beer, it seemed quite refreshing and was fairly easy to drink with plenty of floral and citrus flavours but I’m not entirely sure it’s one that I’d go hunting for. There was a nice balance between the sharp citrus flavours and the pilsner type malts but in truth there wasn’t a whole lot else going on with the beer, enjoyable in the sun whilst in Italy but I’m not convinced it deserves its place in the 1001 beers book really.
Brewed In: Lurago Marinone, Lombardy, Italy
Brewery: Birrificio Italiano
First Brewed: 1996
Serving: Draught (400ml)
Purchased: Il Santo Bevitore, Venice, Italy
Price: €7.00 (approx. £5.13)
The first review of a beer that I tried in Venice now, I had this Birra Moretti offering on my second day in the city and it was also my second from the brewery, I originally reviewed their flagship offering a couple of years ago and to be honest it’s one that I’ve tried to avoid since then. This particular beer, Siciliana, is a new offering for 2015 from the Italian brewery and is one that I sampled in a Venetian restaurant after picking it from another couple similar beers from the brewery they had on offer. The beer itself was a fruit beer which isn’t usually a style that I hold out much hope for but as it turned out the beer wasn’t all that bad, granted the price was quite steep but I was expecting as much from Venice so I won’t hold that against it.
Appearance (3/5): Light amber with a clear body and a thin, patchy white lacing on top with the odd bubble rising to the surface.
Aroma (7/10): Citrus and light floral notes to start, there was some lemon zest and faint pine showing as well. The beer wasn’t the most pronounced on the nose but I got some touches of malts and a summery, fresh aroma that featured some grassy hops and hay towards the end.
Taste (7/10): Strong citrus and lemon notes kicked things off with some grapefruit and to a lesser extent some pine hops. There was again a freshness to the beer with some lager style malts around the middle and orange flavours at the end but not much sweetness.
Palate (4/5): There was a good balance to this beer with some nice bitterness from the citrus working well with the light malts and the beer definitely had quite a fresh, lively feel to it. Carbonation levels were quite strong with the beer quite dry towards the end and the body was a light-medium one.
Overall (14/20): This one was definitely a beer that went down a lot better than I expected it to and I certainly enjoyed it more than the same brewery’s flagship pale lager so I’m quite happy I ordered it in the end. There was a nice, refreshing taste to the beer and it went down easy in the Italian sun with a pleasant balance and it went well with my dinner so I’ve no complaints.
Brewed In: Bergamo, Italy
Brewery: Birra Moretti (Heineken)
First Brewed: 2015
Type: Fruit Beer
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Trattoria Lanternine, Venice, Italy
Price: €7.00 (approx. £5.13)
A new country for me now, Serbia! This one is the first and so far only Serbian beer that I’ve managed to find and try, it is a beer that I managed to try in the town of Trieste in Italy, near the Slovenia border on a stopover on my way to Venice. I wasn’t aware of the beers origins when I ordered a can in a little roadside cafe but I was pleased to find out it was a new country for me when it arrived at my table. The beer is the leading brand in Serbia and one that has apparently won a few awards both within and outwith the country but it wasn’t one I knew much about when I tried it. The beer definitely wasn’t a classic but I was pleased to tick a new country off my list, here’s what I thought of the can I sampled.
Appearance (3/5): A light and quite clear golden straw with a thumb sized, foamy white head that slowly fades over the opening minute to about half its original size.
Aroma (4/10): Corn and vegetable adjuncts are the order of the day with the nose, there was some faint citrus and bread as well but these took more of a back seat. I felt the nose was quite light overall but also skunky with some faint malt bitterness and a little sweetness at the end.
Taste (4/10): Corn and bread malts kicked things off with the taste, there was some vegetable adjuncts coming through from the nose as well and I also detected some dough but there wasn’t really anything beyond that which was quite disappointing really.
Palate (2/5): Thin and quite watery, there was an overriding blandness to this beer with light-medium carbonation and a slight tang doing little to change my opinion. There was some faint bitterness towards the end but the beer was incredibly basic and uninteresting.
Overall (4/20): This one was a terrible introduction to Serbian beer, definitely one of the worst lagers I’ve tried in a while and not one that I could recommend. There was way too much skunk showing and the taste lacked on pretty much everything, the beer was watery and bland making it a real struggle to finish despite the Italian sun making me thirsty; the fact that it was my first Serbian beer was the only positive I took from this one.
Brewed In: Apatin, Vojvodina, Serbia
Brewery: Apatinska Pivara
First Brewed: Brewery since 1756
Type: Pale Lager
Serving: Can (500ml)
Purchased: Bar Pausa Caffé, Trieste, Italy
Price: €2.00 (approx. £1.48)
This one is a bit of an unusual one to categorise, it’s an Austrian branded beer that is from the Fritz Egger brewery but the beer itself appears to be brewed under license by Pivovarna Laško in Slovenia, specifically for Spar supermarkets in Slovenia. Since the beer is from an Austrian brewery originally I’ll count it as a beer from that country and it makes the beer my second to fall under the Pittinger brand that I’ve tried, following on from their enjoyable Hefe-Weissbier that I reviewed here previously. This one is actually a beer that I sampled on a bus leaving Ljubljana for Trieste in Italy having grabbed the can earlier on my visit to Ljubljana but not getting round to opening it, the main reason I grabbed it in the first place was because it was cheaper than buying a bottle of water and I thought it might be more refreshing too. The price of the beer worked out at roughly £0.39 for a 500ml can, granted it’s a relatively low alcohol drink but you can’t really argue with pricing like that.
Appearance (3/5): A cloudy, lemon coloured yellow with a thin, bubbly white head on top that starts to break up after a minute or so.
Aroma (3/10): Really bitter lemon and grapefruit notes on the nose initally, there was some strong artificial smells with a huge amount of citrus but the nose felt a little basic. The grapefruit definitely dominated and beyond that there wasn’t really much going on.
Taste (4/10): Mirroring the nose, this one kicked off with some strong bitterness and quite an artifical tast that had some lemons and grapefruit running through it, although neither was quite as overpowering as the nose. There was an artificial sweetness and very basic malts coming through around the middle before some hay and further bitterness closed things out.
Palate (2/5): Light bodied and artificial feeling with quite a thin, almost watery feel that had too much bitterness for me and not enough variety. There was the odd sticky-sweet patch in there but it was definitely a basic beer overall.
Overall (7/20): This one turned out to be quite a poor radler and was nowhere near as good as the Union Radler Grapefruit that I reviewed here previously. The taste and smell both seemed artifical and forced with far too much bitterness showing and taking away the refreshing aspect of the beer before you had a chance to enjoy it. Disappointing and not one I’d go back to which is a shame given how much I enjoyed the Pittinger Hefe-Weissbier that I also tried whilst in Slovenia.
Brewed In: Unterradlberg, Austria
Brewery: Privatbrauerei Fritz Egger
First Brewed: 2012
Type: Radler (Fruit Beer)
Serving: Can (500ml)
Purchased: Spar supermarket (Ljubljana)
Price: €0.53 (approx. £0.39)
Another Austrian beer that I managed to sample in neighbouring Slovenia now, this one is a German style hefeweizen that hails from Salzburg and the Stiegl brewery. I tried a bottle of this in the Premier Pub in Ljubljana on my last night in the city just over a month ago and it turned out to be an enjoyable offering. The beer is my first from the Steigl brewery, one of the most popular Austrian brands and a brewery that was founded back in 1492, but hopefully it is a brewery that I’ll get to try a couple more from in the future since this one went down quite nicely.
Appearance (5/5): Pouring a cloudy, golden amber and sitting quite birghtly in the glass, this beer is topped with quite a large, foamy white head that is about two inches tall and holds very well, leaving some nice lacing on the sides of the glass.
Aroma (7/10): Starting with a nice mixture of clove and banana, there is some strong wheat and touches of yeast from the beer before some background fruits and faint coriander make an appearance. There is quite a good balance to this one with a nice citrus backing and faint bubblegum to see things out.
Taste (7/10): Nice citrus flavours and lemon kick things off before the bananas start to take over and dominate here. There is some cloves and the coriander from the nose features but it is fairly light, I also got some fruits and a touch of sweetness right at the end.
Palate (4/5): Smooth and quite fruity with a decent amount of sweetness and plenty of carbonation too. There was a nice amount of fizz to the beer without it being overdone and the balance seemed good as well. It was an easy beer to drink with a fairly refreshing feel and not much bitterness either.
Overall (15/20): This one was a pretty good wheat beer, particularly for a non-German one but I guess Salzburg is about as close to Bavaria as you can get without being in Germany so I should have expected as much from Stiegl. The beer was quite a nice one that went down easily and certainly has a good balance too, , the banana and clove sweetness going well with the citrus flavours that followed. Definitely an enjoyable Austrian wheat beer and one I’d be tempted to pick up again if I found it in the UK but it’s not quite a standout offering.
Brewed In: Salzburg, Austria
Brewery: Stieglbrauerei zu Salzburg
First Brewed: circa. 2011
Type: German Hefeweizen
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Blef Bar No. 2, Ljubljana, Slovenia
Price: €3.60 (approx. £2.61)
Quite a new beer from the Reservoir Dogs brewery based in Nova Gorica, Slovenia now and yet another bottle I picked up from Ljubljana’s Pivoteka Za popen’t bottle shop when I was visiting the city last month. This one is actually my second beer from the brewery, the first being the bottle of Grim Reaper IPA from them that I picked up in the same shop and posted a review of here previously. The particularly IPA from the brewery was one that I enjoyed quite a bit and when I sat down to try this one later the same night it was definitely one that I had high hopes for, especially since I didn’t anticipate finding any locally brewed black IPA’s on my travels over the summer.Thankfully the beer proved to be a good one and I’ll be on the look out for more Reservoir Dogs beers in the future, hopefully since The 3rd Pill from the Pelicon brewery has made it to the UK now then some of Reservoir Dogs beers will as well; one can only hope.
Appearance (4/5): A dark brown colour and opaque in the glass, the beer has a foamy looking head that is dark tan in colour and has a slightly creamy texture in parts. Sitting about two centimetres tall with good retention, the head shows little movement over the opening couple of minutes.
Aroma (8/10): Starting with a nice combination of dark roasted malts and caramel, there is some good sweetness to this beer with a few grains showing and a slightly earthy aroma. I detected some nice pine and grapefruit hops soon after with touches of mango and citrus coming through as well before some brown sugars and a lighter chocolate aroma made an appearance. There was a good balance to the nose with some fresh grass and citrus hops in there too.
Taste (8/10): Sweet caramel malts and some grapefruit kick things off here, there is a little citrus showing as well and I got what appeared to be a semi-bitter taste with some roasted malts and a chocolate coming through. The beer was quite hoppy with some earthy flavours and a little mango featuring before some orange and resinous pine came through with some dried fruits right at the end.
Palate (5/5): Smooth with a medium body and good earthy malts featuring throughout, there was some nice sweetness in there as well and plenty of pine bitterness. The beer seemed to have a nice balance with moderate carbonation and almost no alcohol showing despite the 8% abv. listed on the bottle; excellent stuff really.
Overall (17/20): This one was another excellent beer from the Reservoir Dogs brewery and a nice change to be trying one of my favourite styles of beer while in Slovenia, definitely not something I was expecting but something I really enjoyed. The beer had a nice balance with the darker roasted flavours and malts going well with the hop bitterness and tropical fruits that featured heavily with this one. Despite the strength, the alcohol content of the beer was very well hidden and it was an easy beer to drink making it a beer well worth looking out for.
Brewed In: Nova Gorica, Slovenia
Brewery: Reservoir Dogs Brewery
First Brewed: 2015
Type: Black IPA
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Pivoteka Za popen’t (Ljubljana)
Price: €3.40 (approx. £2.46)
A review of what was my fourth beer brewed specially for Marks & Spencer stores in the UK, this one a premium lager from the Hogs Back brewery based in Surrey and a beer that I received as a gift last week. The beer is a relatively new one to stores, having first been launched in March or April this year and since I’m not in Marks & Spencer all that often it’s not one that I seen before but it’s one that I’m looking forward to trying and finding out what it’s about. This Five Hop Lager will also be my first from Hogs Back, a brewery that was founded in 1992 and has won quite a few awards since then, including having one beer (‘A over T’) crowned “Supreme Champion Winter Ale of Britain” in 2006.
Appearance (3/5): Bright, medium amber in colour with a clear body and a thin, quarter centimetre head that is slightly foamy and just about covers the surface of the beer, with some fine bubbles rising to the top as it sits in the glass.
Aroma (6/10): Fairly sweet on the nose with some corn, hay and light citrus notes straight off the bat. There was some hops sneaking through with a few sweet malts and subtle herbal notes plus one bitterness towards the end but the beer was fairly light overall on the nose.
Taste (6/10): Faint citrus and some subtle grassy hops kick things off before some hay and light floral flavours make an appearance. There was some sweet malts and basic corn flavouring that followed with touches of lemon and bitterness seeing things out.
Palate (2/5): Light to light-medium bodied with soft carbonation and a dry feel to the beer. There was moderate bitterness running through this one but the feel was quite basic and light with nothing too exciting about it really.
Overall (11/20): This one was a bit of an anticlimax really, I was expecting quite a hoppy but easy-going pale lager but all it delivered was a basic one with not enough hop presence for it to live up to its name. It was an easy beer to drink but I feel that was down to the fact it was quite light bodied and bland with little strength in the nose or the taste; it was just all a bit flat really and it’s not a beer I’ll pick up again.
Brewed In: Farnham, Surrey, England
Brewery: Hogs Back Brewery
First Brewed: 2015
Type: Premium Lager
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Marks & Spencer