Italian Beer Series: Birracrua Montecrocetta (Vicenza)
Birracrua is Vicenza's only brewery within its city limits. They usually produce (frankly, not so special) session beers, but in typical Italian gastronomic fashion they also produce limited beers made with seasonal ingredients. The brewery's autumn beer, Montecrocetta is named after the street that runs past the brewery and definitely the star of my recent visit. This 7% ABV beer is indicative of the American-style freewheeling approach the Italians have to beer--ingredients include mielo di castagna (literally "chestnut honey", could be bought in grocery stores as a spreadable jam not unlike nutella), Czech malt and hops, and Belgian yeast. The beer's heady floral and honey scent is so pleasant that it was still apparent despite the beer's minuscule frothing. The dark red/amber color has a prominent body but not so much as to coat the mouth like a stout. The taste is amazing and complex: a malty and grainy start, that turns fruity with hints of apple, that finishes off with a complementary mellow bitterness. The beer is not sweet at all, with the honey added more for the aroma than flavor. A great beer, and definitely worth a try. I bought an extra bottle to check how well this beer ages. We'll see.