Monday, January 31, 2011

Italian Beer Series: Birrone Vai Zen (Isola Vicentina)

After opening a bottle of Birrone's Vai Zen, I was a little concerned. The beer smelled mealy and almost savory, something beer shouldn't really smell like. Compared to other hefeweizen, it is even weirder: instead of a fruity and sprighty aroma, this one carries a really strong scent of hazelnuts, something that reminds of cold weather and not of warm sunny days hefeweizen is designed for. But aroma can be--and is--deceiving. Although a bit heavier in mouthfeel and more forthcoming in taste than a traditional hefeweizen, Vai Zen is nonetheless refreshing and would be perfect as a chill-out beer in the middle of the summer. Upon pouring, the beer produces a big and stable white head that lasts for quite a while. The color is slightly on the darker side of amber and carbonation is moderate. The taste is of bananas, almonds, and butter, with the sweetness accompanied by a mild bitterness that does not linger at all. I find it funny that the company's logo features hops prominently, but the beer doesn't really have the bitterness and aroma of hops. Lots of diacetyl, but not necessarily a bad thing. I didn't feel the 4.9% ABV at all, and the smoothness makes this tasty beer go down easy.

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