Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Italian lagers

It is Autumn and time to look at back at the Summer. As the leaves fall off the trees and the temperatures are getting closer to negative Centigrades, remembering sun and hot weather is very nice.

San Remo

During the Summer I had a day in Italy. I visited the city of San Remo close to the French border. San Remo has a fantastic beach, and walking along the esplanade was to my liking.

San Remo means beach life for many Italians.

There were no possibilities for me to taste Italian beers while visiting Italy. I drove a car, so tasting draught beers were out of the question. While in Italy I visited a supermarket in San Remo, and it had a nice selection of beers. Unfortunately there were more or less only international brands, but I also found some Italian beers.

The beer shelves at an Italian supermarket.

Italian lagers can be found here together with international beers.

Fellow Norwegian beer blogger Knut Albert has written about several Italian craft beers on his blog. One of his posts is about two exciting bars in Rome, so I was hoping for several craft beers to be found during my short visit to Italy. The supermarket I visited in San Remo only offered various lager beers, so I picked up three different Italian ones. That was a shame as I really wanted to try something special.

The first Italian beer I tasted was Nastro Azzurro when I visited Rome ten years ago. At that time I felt it was a nice lager beer that I really liked. Since 1999 I have found Nastro Azurro now and then while travelling abroad, but I have not picked it up.

Back in Italy Nastro Azzurro (English: blue ribbon) was a no-brainer, and I felt that I had to try the beer again. Nastro Azzurro is a pale lager beer with much carbonation and a large head that dissolves after a while. There is a malty feel to it, but otherwise this is a typical eurolager. I can recommend it as a nice session beer in the sun, but there are many more interesting lagers available.

The Rome based Peroni brewery, who makes Nastro Azzurro, offers several other beers. One of them is the Peroni lager. Peroni is not that different from Nastro Azzurro in look. It is as pale as Nastro Azuuro and it is rather fizzy. It builds a little head in the glass, but it disappears more or less at once. Peroni is a little bit sweeter than Nastro Azzurro and has a malty aftertaste. I would prefer Nastro Azzurro to Peroni lager, but both are not among the best lagers of Europe.

Birra Moretti is one of the Peroni brewery's competition in Italy. The brewery from Udine is owned by Heineken and has several beers on the market. Their Birra Moretti lager is also a pale lager. There is less carbonation here, and after poured into the glass the head stays longer than Nastro Azzurro. Tastewise Birra Moretti is another typical eurolager. It has a more bitter twist to it than the Peroni beers, and it becomes my favourite among the three Italian lagers.

I plan to return to Italy next year. That time I will spend more time in the country and try some of the craft beers. These three lagers from Italy were OK, but I will not seek them out when there are better lager beers to be found.

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