Tag Archives: italian ale

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.

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

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Bender Ale

This is what I’ve mostly been drinking lately, a pale or blonde American wheat ale. I’m not usually a big fan of wheat beers – partly because I find them a little sickly, partly because I made myself a little sickly on more than one occasion back in the day when I first discovered Hoegaarden. (It must have arrived in Britain around 1995, as I’ve got clear memories of drinking it, and Leffe, too much when I lived in Newcastle.) This one, however, is rather pleasant. It’s also the only beer on tap at the moment in the bar of the American Academy in Rome, where I’m currently working as a volunteer in the kitchens.

My background is in sitting-on-my-arse trades, notably as a film journalist, so being on my feet all day is pretty hard yakka. So a beer is most welcome at the end of the shift. Indeed, even when I’m working the pm shift (starting at lunch time, finishing after dinner), I start dreaming about beer at around 6pm.

Once we’ve cleaned up around 10pm, the beer is calling to me. In this case, it’s Bender calling to me. Now, if you’re British, and of a certain age, that’s a slightly unfortunate name for a beer, but if you’re not British, or are primarily a Futurama fan, it won’t carry any baggage of 70s school playground name-calling. Bender, of course, is Futurama’s resident alchoholic robot. (Though he’s not an alcoholic in the addiction sense – he needs booze to recharge his fuel cells.)

Despite the name of the beer, it is in fact Italian, from a microbrewery called Vecchia Orsa (“Old Bear”). The brewery is part of Fattoriabilità, a social coop in Bologna province, in Emilia-Romagna, set up in 2006 and brewing, I believe, since 2008. Visit their site, and they even seem to have some adorable donkeys. Whether they’re used for salami down the line I don’t know.

The beer itself is very drinkable, though as the weather warms up (and it is warming up fast – the Roman winter of coats and sweaters seems to turn a corner to a spring of t-shirts in just days), it’ll be even better. It’s a fresh, citrussy wheat ale that will be very pleasing drunk outside on a warm, sunny day. Plus, for me, it doesn’t have the strange slightly thick, doughy-ness that puts me off most wheat beers. I’m struggling to articulate this, but as much as I like baking bread, I don’t love the idea of drinking the dough, and that’s what wheat beers often feel like to me.

So anyway, as long as I remain on the pm shifts I think I’ll be enjoying a few more of these…

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