Tuesday, July 21, 2009

99 Bottles of Beer on the Blog - Amarcord's La Tabachera

Having recently taken the Beer Judge Certification Program examination, I'm up to speed on traditional beer styles, and the way things are supposed to be. On Saturday, though, I picked up a beer that marches to the beat of its own drummer, and it's an anarchic blast of malt and alcohol that reminds serious students of beer that the point is, really, whether it tastes good.

Amarcord is an Italian brewery. Most Italian beers you find here in the United States are fizzy euro-lagers, without distinction. A developing craft beer movement has enlivened Italian pubs, though, and Amarcord is a newish brewery in San Marino, blending obsessions with Fellini and fermentation.

La Tabachera is listed on the brewery's website as a "double brown ale". It smelled more like a bock when it poured - this is a fragrant, malty beer. Sniff early when you pour it, because the head is fizzy and dissipates rapidly. It churns up the aromas of malt, fig, malt, malt, brown sugar, and malt.

If you're expecting anything remotely like any brown ale you've ever tasted, you're in for a surprise. It's nothing like Newcastle or Moose Drool or any of the other wonderful brown ales out there fitting within the regular style guidelines. It's not even very brown - it's more of an amber ale in terms of color.

The flavor of the beer delivers on the malt promise made by the scent. It tastes like a wonderful Oktoberfest boiled down to a syrup. It has a nice amount of hop bitterness to keep it from being overly sweet, but I could detect almost no hop flavor, beyond a peppery note that could come from German noble hops.

For all the flavor contained in this swing-top bottle, you'd expect it to be thick and viscous, but the mouthfeel is yet another surprise. It's almost on the thin side, even after the carbonation fled the glass. Perhaps the thinness comes from the fact that 10% of the fluid is alcohol - this is a deceptively drinkable strong beer.

Italians have given us great food, great wine, and now they have brought us some great beer. It's not what you'd expect, but it's a surprising and enjoyable beer. I'll be looking forward to seeing what else the Italian craft beer movement will produce.

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Anonymous Bethany said...

You have me craving in the middle of the day! Where might one get some of this delectable beer you talk so lovingly about?

7/22/2009 1:23 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

I picked it up at Lukas Liquors at 135th and State Line while on a journey to a dinner party. I picked up a bunch of other goodies to review, too!

7/22/2009 2:52 PM  
Blogger Muddy Mo said...

When will you know how you did on the beer judge exam?

7/25/2009 2:38 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Not for like 3 months, and I screwed up the exam, so there's a good chance I might need to take it again.

7/25/2009 9:06 AM  
Blogger Tonto said...

Where can you buy this beer in San Francisco? I am a huge Fellini fan & my family is originally from San Marino - I also grew up in Missoula Montana (home of Moose drool) so I am drooling waiting for this one - at least just to save the cool looking bottles

1/05/2010 12:14 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

I'm sorry, but I don't know who would distribute it in San Francisco. I'd suggest dropping a line to the brewery and asking them if they have a distributor in your area, and, if so, who it is. Good luck!

1/05/2010 6:17 AM  

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