Sunday, February 6, 2011

Birrificio del Ducato Nuova Mattina

Nestled deep in the heart of Emilia-Romagna, Italy, outside of the city of Parma, is a craft brewer who makes what is probably my favorite beer.  I've previously spoken about the Italian craft beer tasting that Clare and I attended at the National Geographic Museum, where Garrett Oliver (the brewmaster of Brooklyn Brewery) introduced us to an array of craft beers brewed up and down the Italian peninsula.  We tasted about ten beers from different craft brewers. While we liked all of the beers, we left talking about one beer in particular ... Birrificio del Ducato's Nuova Mattina.

Founded in 2006, Birrificio del Ducato represents the passion of three people ... Giovanni Campari, the head brewer, along with two of his friends, Emanuele and Manuel.  Their first beer was Via Emilia, a pale ale, but, soon thereafter, they began experimenting with ingredients and brewing techniques to produce some very unique and tasting beers.  And, the best of their beers is the Nuova Mattina or New Morning.

According to the brewer, the beer gets its name from the Bob Dylan song, "New Morning," which the brewers chose because of the lyrics, which speak of one's amazement of life and nature.   The label of the beer echoes this inspiration, noting that the beer is "[d]edicated to the beauty of a new spring morning with the first sun rays warming the blossoming flowers...." 

This beer represents what is best about the Italian craft beer movement.  Italians brew beer with just about anything that they can find.  Nuova Mattina is a Belgian style saison that is brewed with spices, ginger, coriander, green peppers and chamomile.  When it is poured, the beer reveals its orange color.  The aromatic elements or the beer's nose greets one with a scent of flowers or wild grasses, with a faint scent of pepper.  The beer is very carbonated, which is perhaps a by-product of being fermented in the bottle.

While the floral aromatics of the Nuova Mattina are very inviting, the taste of the beer is what makes it my favorite.  That taste is an amazing contrast of flavors.  On the one hand, one can taste the ginger and pepper, the latter of which is more akin to cracked peppercorn rather than green pepper.  On the other hand, those ginger and pepper flavors are interlaced with the taste of flowers, citrus and chamomile.  The beer is on the drier end of the spectrum, and slightly bitter.  The beer has an ABV of 5.9%, which is just about right for a Belgian style saison.

These contrasting flavors make this beer a little difficult to pair with food, at least for me.  The distributor, B United International, suggests that this beer could be served with Thai curries or certain types of cheeses, such as Asiago, Fontina or Parmigano Reggiano.  Personally, I think that this beer would be best paired with organically raised  beef, pork or lamb.  Such a pairing would fulfill a dream of many foodies like myself ... namely, a beer that evokes the grasses, flowers and greens that are fed to the animals raised in an environmentally conscious way.

The Nuova Mattina was the first beer exported by Del Ducato to the United States.  I highly recommend it to anyone who is open to trying new and different beers, with one caveat. I've been able to find it in small 11.2 ounce bottles at State Line Liquors in Elkton, Maryland for $8.99 a bottle or the large 1 pint, 9 ounce bottle for $23.99 at Corridor Wine in Laurel, Maryland.  It is also sometimes available on tap at 2Amys in the Tenleytown/Cleveland Park neighborhood of Washington, D.C. for about $10 to $12.00 a glass.  As you can see, the beer is expensive.  However, this beer is definitely worth the price every once and a while as a splurge or for a special occasion.  

For more information about the beer, check out the brewery's website or the distributor's website


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