Another Toccalmatto with another crazy bit of label design, like Zona Cesarini but more especially B Space Invader. This time, the label seems to portray a strange fantasy Polynesian coconut-tiki-demon seizing a double-jointed (or even bone-less) hula dancer, like some King Kong riff.
Oceania isn’t actually on Toccalmatto’s site (here. Beware! Airbrushed goth babe), or in the Guida alle birre d’Italia 2013, but apparently it was created in 2011 as a one-shot but added to the range on the strength of a good response from punters.
The label calls it a “New World Hoppy Saison” in nice helpful English then expands: Birra doppia malta chiara, secca e beverina / Unisce speziatura classica delle Saison agli aromi dei luppoli Neozelandesi e Australiani / Birra di Alta Fermentazione – Rifermentata in Bottiglia. That is, “A double-malted clear beer, dry and drinkable / Uniting classic saison spiciness with the aroma of New Zealand and Australian hops / Top fermented – Bottle conditioned.”
The ingredients are water, malted barley, malted wheat, hops, sucrose, yeast. The sucrose is perhaps unexpected – you’d think with not one but two malts there would be enough sugars for the yeast, but adding more is presumably a factor in its fortification. Yep, it’s another strong beer: 7% ABV.
Some comments online also suggest adding sucrose to your brew can make it taste “cidery”, but others strongly refute this as a misconception that arose from poorly balance homebrew kit beers. This well-informed forum contributor, PseudoChef (a biochemist from Chicago), says: “Adding sugar to your recipe can be advantageous in that it helps ‘dry’ out the beer and thus reducing cloying body sweetness in some styles and accentuating hop bitterness in others.”
Certainly the Oceania is in no way cidery, and is indeed dry not sweet. Overall it’s another great beer from Toccalmatto.
It pours with a decent head. It has an odour of citrus (orange, grapefruit), fresh cut grass, fresh herbs growing in the sun (rather than, say, cut dried herbs or hay. Or is that getting a bit specific?). The body is medium-light, and colour is orangey-yellow and slightly cloudy. It’s well-carbonated, and has a tart, fruity flavour with touches of resin. Presumably from the hops, which in this case are New Zealand (Motueka, Pacific Jade) and Australian (Galaxy, Rakauand).
Finally, it has a fresh, crisp mouthfeel. Indeed, despite having something of that sweet-sour-spicy-fruity complexity you get with a good saison, it’s another lovely refreshing summer beer, and again one that’s so beverina (drinkable) it belies its strength.