Sunday, October 9, 2011
Italian Beer Series: Birrificio Artigianale Scaligero Mastino II "Beatrice" (Mezzane di Sotto)
Birrificio Artigianale Scaligero Mastino II (really long name! BASM in short...) is a Veronese brewery specializing in classic, traditional recipes from Britain, Germany, and Belgium. Seemingly characteristic of the many breweries located in the Veneto and in opposition to the breweries of Lombardy and Piemonte, BASM does not try to fiddle around too much with the classics. Whereas breweries in Milan and Torino may add grapes and fruits to their beer, BASM keeps it simple by adhering to the basic ingredients: malt, yeast, hops, and water. This may or may not be as a result of the brewery's relative inexperience--it is just under three years old, previously specializing in providing the equipment fo commercial brewing--but their relatively simple approach nevertheless produces well-tasting brews.
Beatrice is BASM's Belgian offering, modeled after the cloudy and sour Belgian witbier (wheat beer). However, I think this beer is closer to the German heffeweissen than the Belgian spiced version. When poured, it produced almost no head at all, but I suspect the wet glass had something to do with that. Nevertheless, carbonation is nice and sharp. The body is full, and the beer is cloudy from the unfiltered yeast still in the bottle. The flavor has none of the grainy taste I like about wheat beers, and all of the bitterness I usually don't associate with wheat beers. However, the taste is not as unpleasant as it sounds, as the bitterness is never overpowering nor leaves a nasty bite. The sweetness of the yeast and the bitterness of the hops produce a nice balance, which, along with its 5.5% alcohol content, makes this a good session beer. It does verge into being a bit of a one-note though.