I was invited along to the launch of the revamped Milano restaurant on Haddington Road the other week. I went because, hey, free pizza, but I wasn't expecting to get any blog content out of it. Chain pizza restaurants (UK readers will know Milano as Pizza Express) are not known for their diverse beer offerings, at least in these parts. I had a look at the uninspiring beer menu in advance and realised that I had never committed a review of Italian staple Peroni Nastro Azzurro to this blog. So here goes...
I've drank it a few times over the years and my abiding memory of it is as extremely watery, but from the fridge in Milano it was a little bit warmer than expected and I think that helped give at least a token bit of substance. Malt flavour? No... not really, just a kind of vague wheaty grain. Poking around for hops I found a sort of rough cabbage-water flavour, one which I'm sure disappears completely when the beer is chilled all the way down. So cellar-temperature Peroni is still pretty damn bland, but at least it's not watery, so that's a win.
For dessert I took a punt on Peroni Gran Riserva which, from the name, I assume is drawn from the casks cellared deep beneath Signor Peroni's castello. It's very much in the German pale bock style, 6.6% ABV, a lurid orange colour and brimming with sticky golden syrup flavours. A real bock would throw in some weedpatch noble hops but this doesn't really bother, showing just a very short-lived green bitterness in the middle. It's not unpleasantly sugary, however, settling down after a few mouthfuls to be merely bland rather than cloying. The only off-putting part is that its density leaves one expecting a big flavour, for better or worse, but none is forthcoming. I found myself actually missing the harsh nettles and spinach of bock.
Aaanyway, the pizza was nice, the service was good, and I had Reuben and his other half for company. And I got a blog post out of it. I'm chalking this up as a win. And as soon as Milano starts stocking LoverBeer, I'll be straight back.