Saturday, October 29, 2011

Italian Beer Series: San Gabriel "Birral della Scala" (Busco di Ponte di Piave)

Founded in 1997, San Gabriel is a brewery located near Treviso that is committed to the "purity" of the Reinheitsgebot and the greatness of the products of the Veneto.  Following the basic Bavarian recipe, the company sources much of their barley and hops from local producers, and they take great pride with their local source of water.  However, they also produce seasonal beers from local products that are definitely not kosher with the Bavarians:  figs, radicchio, and chestnuts from Treviso; yellow peppers from Zero Bianco; rice from Isola della Scala.  Despite their professed adherence to the Bavarian law, this brewery is, in the end, an Italian type through and through.

Birra della Scala was produced by San Gabriel in celebration of the 45th anniversary of the large rice festival in Isola della Scala.  Taking note of the celebration's main star, San Gabriel did what is usually considered a blasphemy in craft beer circles:  they added rice, a typical adjunct used moreso because it is cheap rather than because it is good. Nevertheless, the result is notable, if a bit wonky.  On pour, the head is white and coarse, producing a sugary sweet and grainy aroma.  The beer's golden color is made cloudy by the unfiltered yeast still in the bottle.  The body is viscuous and smooth, with very little carbonation.  The flavor is grainy with a wallop of citrus, finished off with a weak bitterness.  A nice beer, especially if paired with the many types of risotto featured in the festival.    The sourness is a bit off-putting though, and I think I would have second thoughts if offered another glass.

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