Tag Archives: Casa Veccia

Casa Veccia Calibro 5

Calibro 5 Ivan Borsato Casa Veccia

This is the forth of the Micro Birrificio Casa Veccia Ivan Borsato Birraio beers I’ve tried (after Molo, Dazio and Formenton). As with the other ones, Calibro 5 has a great Matt Groening-style cartoon on the label, this time showing two chaps who seem to be having a party with a couple of phantom sheep. Reading Borsato’s description on their site (in Italian), apparently the image is of a rustic party, because “Le Calibro 5 è la birra per tutti, di tutti e per tutto” – because “Calibro 5 is the beer for everyone and everything.”

Indeed, the spiel is predominantly about how it Borsato and Casa Veccia’s most multi-purpose beer, one that goes with all sorts of foods – and specifically it goes really well with pizza. Why? Because pizza is a dish that varies greatly according to what toppings you choose, and as such needs a versatile beer.

I’m not quite sure what type of beer it is though, specifically. The site describes it as “Belgian Ale-style”, but I dislike that expression. It’s like saying a beer is “British Ale-style”, or “American Ale-style”. I suppose “Belgian Ale-style” is a fairly catch-all term for beers that don’t necessarily fit neatly into other brackets, but I just dislike the woolliness. Untappd calls it a blonde ale, though again, this is a generic term that refers to little other than colour.

Casa Veccia Ivan Borsato Calibro 5 label

It’s certainly a light golden-orange-brown colour, murky, with a foaming but quickly subsiding head. I got very subtle scents of pineapple, lemon, soap. The taste meanwhile, was very sweet, honey-ish, with a little black pepper. Overall, a very easy drinking beer. This is, in fact, its purpose – a low alcohol (by Italian standards: 5% ABV) beer that is made using Kolsh (sic; Kölsch), a strain that, Borsato explains, “is a neutral yeast that limits the natural fermentation, making the beer diminishingly (?) dry but not excessively perfumed or flavoured.” It’s more malty than hoppy, though while the latter gives negligible bitterness, the former is also pretty mild.

Borsato recommends this one be drunk at 4-6C, colder than most ales – so cold you won’t get so much perfume or flavour, but he suggests that at this temperature it’ll be thirst-quenching and refreshing. So again, another good option for encouraging industrial lager drinkers to try a top fermented beer – or indeed a real beer. The spiel on the site does also say that if it’s drunk a few degrees warmer you will get the maltiness more.

So a very easy, versatile beer and another pleasant, pleasing beer from this Casa Veccia Ivan Borsato Birraio brewery, all of whose range I’ve so far really enjoyed. Oh, and the name is just a reference to the ABV: calibro means calibre, size or gauge.

Info
Micro Birrificio Casa Veccia Ivan Borsato Birraio
0422 872397 | ivanborsato.it | birraio@ivanborsato.it

Leave a comment

Filed under Ale, beer

Casa Veccia’s Formenton and Dazio at Oasi della Birra, Testaccio, Rome

Formento

Haven’t been to Oasi della Birra in Testaccio for what seems like an age. It had become something of a regular haunt, but then something in the aperitivo buffet wasn’t quite right, then other life-things got busy, and well, months went by. But last night I found myself back there, enjoying the evening sun – after a faltering spring, the Roman summer has arrived – and wondering what had become of my chum Cameron. (Never did get those texts.)

On a previous visit, we’d tried a called Molo, a stout made with port from a confusingly named brewery that’s either called Casa Veccia or Ivan Borsato Casa Veccia or Casa Veccia Ivan Borsato Birraio. I’m afraid I hadn’t heard of Ivan Borsato before,  but I like your beers, Ivan, and I like their branding… even if the bottles neglect to actually include such salient information as what type of beer is contained therein.

So this time round, I asked one of the guys from the Oasi what Formenton was, clearly having forgotten what I wrote on my own blog in March. He said it was made with farro (I didn’t get into the issue of what specific farro). As I like my ancient wheat varieties, and it was a warm evening, that seemed like a good place to start. Like many wheat beers, it’s a beautiful bright golden yellow, especially when suffused with the Roman evening sun. I should probably mention the head, as Italian beer reviews always talk about the quality of the schiuma, but what can I say? It’s frothy. But not as frothy as the second beer (see below).

The taste is typically fruity. Cameron  and my wife Fran thankfully arrived before I got too sozzled drinking alone. They both talked about the banana notes (typical to weissbier), but I reckon it had a whole macedonia – that’s Italian for fruit salad – in there, with melon, grapefruit, orange zest, and apple flavours, and even a bit of ginger. At 5.5% it’s not exactly weak, but it’s refreshing and very drinkable, with negligible hoppiness.

Oh, and if you’re really serious about your wheat and white beers, and understand the difference, and can read Italian, there’s a spiel on the brewery’s site about how Formenton “was created from the union of two beers that marked the history of beer: weissbier [wheat beer] and blanchebier [white beer].” Now, I never really had a strong sense of the difference between these beers, as both exist under the wheat beer aegis. But according to the Borsato spiel, and a quick spin around online, the former are more German in origin, cleaner, simpler, with minimal hoppiness and, most of all, are defined by the proportion of wheat in place of some of the (malted) barley. The latter are more Belgian (and Dutch), and may have been made without hops – using herbs instead in something called a gruit. Modern gruit may involve herbs, but also citrus and hops. Both are top-fermented. And, frankly, in this era of innovative craft beers, the dividing line between them is blurred. Formenton, for example, made a point of it. That’s something that’s so good about Italian craft brewing; as the country doesn’t have laboriously rigid brewing heritage and tradition, it’s unafraid to mix things up. Yay. I imagine the two Matt Groening style cartoon chaps on the bottle saying an Italian “yay” at their success with Formenton.

Dazio with OTT head

The second Casa Veccia we tried, and is here featured in a terrible out of focus photo (crappy new phone), showing how I’d rushed to pour it and creating and ridiculous head, was the 6.2% ABV Dazio. The guy in Oasi said it was an ambrata (amber) ale but the Casa Veccia site specifies it’s an APA. As I was talking about yesterday, APA seem to be a very popular style in the Italian birra artigianale scene. And very nice they can be too. And again, unlike in other brewing traditions where beardy specialists might dogmatically insist there’s a distinction between an APA and an amber ale, in Italy it seems an APA can be ambrata.

Dazio was also delicious but very different. Arguably, it’s not as obvious a summer drink, with hints of toffee apple and such autumnal things , along with cinnamon and ginger, but it did the job very nicely thanks last night. Oh, and flavour-wise, Fran said “Turkish delight”, while the Casa Veccia site itself talks about this beer – “in an English style with American hops” – having Profumi terziari come pepe, cuoio, chiodi di garofano, liquirizia: “Tertiary aromas of black pepper, leather, cloves, liquorice.” I didn’t get all that myself, but fair enough. I like the idea of a leather-scented ale. The site also talks about its hoppiness and bitter flavour, but I felt it was pretty mild and mellow. The site also provides a nice bit of history about how the APA evolved from the IPA and the IPA evolved out necessity, with British soldiers in India craving beer, but the long voyage souring the milder ales of home. The solution was more hops, to better preserve the ale. Thanks Ivan and everyone in the Vetch House. Quite why the Dazio label features a cartoon astronaut I don’t know.

2 Comments

Filed under Ale, beer

Casa Veccia’s Molo

Back at Oasi della Birra in Testaccio, with my chum Rachel and my wife Fran. Fran’s beers of choice are unfailingly porters and stouts. As the bar – disappointingly – doesn’t have any Italian beers on tap, we were drinking bottled beers. We asked for a 32 Via dei Birra Altra, a double-malted dark brown ale. They’d run out, but offered us another dark beer. This turned out to be Molo from a micro birrifficio (microbrewery) called Casa Veccia. Not one I’d heard of before. Turns out it’s in Povegliano, in Treviso province of the Veneto, inland from Venice.

Reading the info on Casa Veccia’s Facebook page, the story of the brewery seems not unlike that of several of the other Italian microbreweries I’ve been learning about. (Indeed, it’s a story that’s repeated in the microbrewery scene across the world.) Ivan Borsato, a chef and cookery teacher, says he started making beer for a laugh with three friends in April 2009 but by the end of the year he’d glimpsed an opportunity take it to a professional level. By January 2011 they were producing their first commercial beer, Dazio, an American Pale Ale, then Formenton, a wheat beer.

Borsato, meanwhile, is recognised on all the labels, which says “Micro Birrificio Casa Veccia Ivan Borsato Birraio” with birraio meaning master brewer. (And veccia meaning “vetch“, that is the Vicia genus of Fabaceae, the pea family or legumes.) In fact, I’m not really even sure what the brewery is called, as my beer guidebook simply lists it as Ivan Borsato Birraio.

The labels are also distinctive for their Matt Groening-esque cartoons. (Actually designed by Kulkuxumusu from Pamplona, Spain.) Molo’s label seems to feature some kind of exchange between salty sea dogs, swapping a fish for a bottle of beer.

Anyway. Enough pre-amble. The beer.

The most notable thing about Molo is that it’s a dark, dense 6.5% stout that contains tawny porto, that is tawny port – port that’s been aged in wooden barrels and, according to Wikipedia, imparted with a nutty flavour through gradual oxidation. Now personally, I don’t touch port, not after a work Christmas party about 20 years ago when I learned the hard way how it  gives the worst hangovers. Something to do with congeners. But it certainly added a depth of flavour to the Molo, an almost rare meatiness alongside the more typical stouty flavours of well-roasted and toasted malt, slightly burnt biscuit etc. Though nothing fishy, despite the image on the label.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized