Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Nera

It seems that nearly every region of Italy now has an emerging craft brewer, one who is brewing a larger array of beers that are becoming more available. Emilia-Romagna has Birrificio del Ducato, which brews beers such as Nuova Mattina and Via Emilia.  Piedmont has Birra Baladin, which brews beers like Super Baladin and Wayan.  And, as I have recently learned, Umbria has Birra Tenuta Collesi.

I first encountered Birra Tenuta Collesi at the International Beer Fest.  There were a few Collesi beers available to sample.  I tried the Ambiata, which is Collesi's amber beer.  I thought about trying the Nera, the stout; however, I remembered that my Dad had bought me a bottle, which had been sitting in the basement.  I decided that the Nera would wait for another day, so that I could do a review of the beer.

The day eventually came (although it would take a lot longer to complete the review). I decided to open the Nera, which the brewer describes as an unpasteurized stout that is naturally fermented in the bottle. Others have labeled this beer as a Belgian Dark Strong Ale.  Although a stout and a Belgian Dark Strong Ale are two different styles, I decided to review this beer against the guidelines of both.

According to the Beer Judge Certification Program, a Belgian Dark Strong Ale are usually a deep amber to dark brown, because the "dark" usually  refers to being more deeply colored than a golden ale.  The Nera is much darker than one would expect for a Belgian Ale, and, its color more closely resembles the typical color of a stout, like a Guinness Stout.

As for the aroma, the brewers suggest that there is a "complex aroma of roasted coffee, barley, cereal, liquorice and rhubarb."   A Belgian Dark Strong Ale has aromatic elements that focus more on the malts, with caramel, toast or bready aromas.  The Beer Judge Certification Program observes that a Belgian Dark Strong Ale does not have a dark, roast coffee aroma.  However, a stout often has such an aroma.

Finally, the Belgian Dark Strong Ale has flavor elements that mirror the aromatic elements, with malt flavors predominating over hop flavors.  Once again, a stout has roast coffee flavors, which one would expect from a beer that is described by the brewers as having a "[s]oft creamy and lingering mouth feel, velvety and a smooth foam looking like a cappucino." 

In the end, the Imper Ale Nera more closely resembles a stout than a Belgian Dark Strong Ale.  Still, one could say that the Nera is a good example of an Italian Belgian-style stout and it is definitely worth a try.  This particular bottle was purchased at a beverage store outside of Chicago, Illinois. 


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