Thursday, August 4, 2011

Birrificio Sant'Andrea: Fog

Birrificio Sant'Andrea is based in the village of Piemonte in the region of Vercelli. Like Milan and Lombardy, Vercelli remains a hot bed for new breweries and continues to move the Italian craft beer industry forward. Birrificio Sant'Andrea first opened its doors in 2010 and are making attempts to push the envelope by brewing oddball beers. They currently offer five choices including a bottom-fermented Blonde, an IPA-style ale, Golden Strong Ale, and the Red Rooster (an amber colored brew).

First and foremost, Fog is a witbier. Now I've had many wit (and wit style) beers and was curious to see what the Italian brewing industry was doing with it. I know this is just one example in the vast world of Italian beer but I had to start somewhere. Traditionally brewed in Belgium the witbier attains its name from the pale hued color of the beer. It is a wheat beer and like all other wheat beers the grain bill will include at least 30% wheat. The two most common additives to the witbier style is Coriander and Orange Peel. Characterized also by high carbonation, these beers are meant to be light bodied, crisp and refreshing; the quintessential component for a warm summers day. Whether or not this brewery would attempt to deviate from the traditional flavors remained to be seen, but I would soon find out, so let's go have a look......

Name: Fog
Category/Style: Witbier
ABV: 4.40%
IBU: 20
OG: Unknown
FG: Unknown
Malt Type(s): Unknown
Hop Type(s): Unknown
Yeast Type: Unknown
Special Additives: Coriander, Orange Peel
Bottled: Unknown
Bottle Size: 330 mL
Location Purchased: A Tutta Birra, Milan, Italy

The Pour: Pale golden hues and cloudy. Head is white, some retention, lacing?

The Nose: Quite interesting. Intense. Fruity and sweet, a little sour. Apple, Orange and Tangerine, a touch of tropical fruit: mango? Buttery bubblegum? Coriander is definitely noticeable. A bit more spice, cinnamon? Bright and tingly. Detectable amount of bread and belgian yeast. A little wet sponge in there also. This one might contain some off-flavors but smells intriguing. Time for a taste...

The Taste: Carbonation is medium, kind of bright initally. A little dry. It packs a mildy sour punch up front. And finishes with a bit of pulpy fresh squeezed Orange juice. Not very sweet, just a touch of malt and wheat. The apple and
tangerine come out, as well as a bit of the Coriander and spice I was smelling in the nose. There is some kind of solvent-like characteristics there as well. I can detect bitterness midway through and slightly on the finish. Also detectable is a floral somewhat tropical fruit finish. Mouthfeel is very light. It's interesting and complex.

The Verdict: Initially I was suprised at the intense aroma of the beer. The first things noticeable were the strong fruitiness: the apple, orange, tangerine and slight touch of mango. It is definitely a nice take on the witbier style. I'm also not sure I feel I gave this one a fair sampling. The only glass I was able to procure from the hotel was a small one, and traditionally witbier is served mixed with the yeast sediment from the bottom of the bottle. At the end however my glass was filled mostly with the sediment so I suppose it came full circle. In any case, if you can find this, you might give it a shot. It's a lovely take on the style and I enjoyed it quite a bit on this rainy day in my hotel room in Milan.

Thanks for reading!


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