08 December 2017

Wrapping up

I haven't mentioned the Scott Duff pub in my week of Milan posts yet, even though we visited it on three of the four days we were there. It's a roomy and rambling venue, the large tables and tiled floor reminding me most of a central European inn where foaming mugs of one type of lager are the mainstay. And though you can get excellent lager here -- Keesmann Herrenpils on my visit -- there's plenty more besides on offer.

Sucker for a house beer that I am, my first choice was Scott Joplin 3, brewed by Opperbacco for the small chain of which the pub is a part. Broadly, it's an American IPA, but a dark amber one, and 6.4% ABV. The flavour is quite severe: very dry and bitter loaded with pith and tannin. Doubtless there's a market for this sort of thing but it's not me: I generally prefer a level hop fruitiness to be at least some way present.

A late-nighter on Friday, staggering home from Lambrate, brought me into contact with Nordic Lean, produced jointly by Lervig and Stillwater. It's a sour IPA and I'm a fan of them at any time of the day or night. A variety of berries went into this too, and I'm less keen on fruit in IPA, but the pink cherry taste they create is inoffensive. The use of Brettanomyces brings a heady funk, and then the hops give it a slick of resin on top. It's perhaps not terribly sour, missing the palate-scrubbing tartness of the best of them. It is massively complex and interesting though, even if badging it as an IPA is a bit of a reach.

And then we come in where I left you in the last post, hurriedly quaffing the last beers before almost missing the airport train. I went for CocoBänger, a coffee and coconut imperial stout from Põhjala. A café crème head sits over a dense black body. Unsurprisingly it smells like a Bounty bar, and there's a bonus chilli spice as well, wherever that's from. A dense and intense first mouthful presents an Irish coffee creaminess, all arabica beans and warmth. An unctuousness lingers on the lips and coats the insides but it doesn't get hot or cloying, and is almost easy drinking for 12.5% ABV. Excellent stuff.

Beside it is John's Aeromancia, a wheat IPA from Valencia's Zeta Beer. In, I guess, typical Valencian style, it leans towards the orange in a big way, in colour and flavour. The aroma offers an invigorating citrus zest while the flavour is sweeter, showing chew sweets in particular. A clanging metallic aspirin taste finishes it on a bum note. I'm not sure I'd like this, even if I hadn't been drinking a powerhouse imperial stout at the same time.

Redemption for Zeta comes in the next round with My Name Was Barack, a barley wine. It's a dark brown colour, with a density that directly reflects its 10.5% ABV. There's a heady mix of incense and cedar spicing, sparking against lavender and bathsoap. Given more time I'd probably have found more in it, but what was there was good.

And bringing us out the door, Back to Black by De Ranke, a strong barrel-aged porter. It smells like a kriek: very tart with balsamic notes. The flavour is a lot cleaner and more integrated, with fruit but also a mild coffee element. Nine months in an oak foeder has given it a fantastic smoothness and it's very easy to forget the 9.5% ABV. Another beer I would have liked to have spent time over.

Of time we had plenty when we got to the airport. In a posh bar on the concourse they were serving Baladin beers so we ordered one each. For me, Birra Nazionale, quite a generic number, smelling and tasting like a straightforward witbier, though all of 6.5% ABV. The brewery claims it's the first beer brewed entirely from Italian ingredients and I guess that bit of novelty explains why the flavour isn't up to much.

John went for Super Bitter, a beer that piles in the hop resins which combine with 8% ABV to produce a pleasant warming experience with overtones of orange and cedar.

I had noticed Itala Pilsen in a couple of the airport cafés and was interested in finding out if that's any good before leaving Italy. It turns out this is a legacy brand, acquired and killed off by by Peroni in the 1970s and revived last year, presumably in a desperate rummage through the archives for something to give them a bit of class. It's fine: nicely balanced, with a sweet base and just enough hop kick to pass as a decent pilsner.

For balance, something much shittier by Peroni next to it: Peroni Forte, an 8%-er that lends Italian panache to your park-bench drinking. This is a dark amber colour with a sticky texture and an unpleasant earthy mushroom flavour. It's possible to drink without gagging, but classy it is not.

And that's Milan, as drank by me. Northern Italy certainly has a lot going on beer-wise. I'd love to get further into it at my own pace, but some other time.

No comments:

Post a Comment