Benvenuto! Spring is in full force, and a lovely spring it has been indeed. It has put me consistently in the mood to find the perfect beer for my spring/summer sensibilities, most specifically a saison. Of course there are a few more stipulations, but the beer I bring you today qualifies most of them to a degree greater than I would have hoped for. The one drawback: it’s an import. It comes from Birrificio del Ducato, an Italian brewery. Now I know, I like to support my local beer scene and independent craft brewers, but they have a list of brews that really seems interesting. Downside is that importation may be a bit… spotty. It’s not exactly the most common selection imported to the states, but it’s truly phenomenal if you can find it.
The specific brew I tried was Nuova Mattina, sometimes seen here in the states as New Morning. Named after the Bob Dylan song, it was created to be reminiscent of nature and spring and all that good stuff. It is their saison, a classic spring/summer brew. Really, the only reason I’ve been looking forward to the hotter months, (outside of BBQs and wearing a seersucker suit), is having a chance to consume a bottle of really good saisons for some good ol’ fashioned daytime beer drinking.
The bottle claims that this one is brewed with wild flowers, chamomile, coriander, green peppercorn and ginger. Dang it all if that doesn’t sound great. At 5.9 percent alcohol by volume, I kind of wished this came in a bomber rather than this mini-champagne bottle, and doubly so because of the sediment. Some reviews online will say that this beer is overly cloudy or has an overbearing yeasty characteristic, but I think that may have been the mistake of pouring it with too much gusto. I even made sure to split it into two glasses and sure enough, the first was clear as a jewel, while the other was pretty darned cloudy.
I poured mine, (the first, of course), into a wine glass. It gives quite a large amount of a light, fluffy head if you aren’t careful with it. It is light enough to subside quickly, leaving something of a dry lace on the sides. (Perhaps the residue is an unavoidable bit of yeast clinging to the glass?) Regardless, we are left with this absolutely radiant picture of a yellowy amber beer. The nose is very distinct, with a light floral element and plenty of spice. You get the peppercorn and coriander, not so much the chamomile and ginger. Also a good hit of that Belgian yeast; banana esters, funky bread, and the like.
The taste was out of this world. With something touting all these big flavors, it remains surprisingly complex and subtle. You get a strong backbone, just slight notes of grassy pine flavored hops and golden malts. In turn, you start getting the flavors it was brewed with: a bit of pepper here, a bit of ginger there, some chamomile mingling with the hops. Even a bit of a honey note showed up, possibly from the yeast and malt co-mingling. All of it was very light and unobtrusive, almost magically relaxing. There is even a food pairing, suggesting herb risotto, fish, and raw shellfish. I am supposing the raw shellfish is referring to things like clams and oysters.
It’s strange, but regardless of the weather, I feel this beer would remind me of spring. I guess you can call the head brew master’s foray into saisons a success. I will be on the lookout for places that carry a good selection of imports so I can try out some more of these surprising and inspired Italian beers.