Birra del Borgo Keto Reporter American style Italian Porter 6.5%
The craft beer revolution reached Italy in the mid-1990s and this country, which is more usually associated with wine, now has over 800 micro-breweries. Most people think of Italian beer as consisting of Moretti (owned by Dutch brewers Heineken) or Peroni (now owned by Japanese firm Asahi). Italy still has some way to go as a beer drinking country with an annual consumption of only 29 litres per head compared with 66 litres in the UK.
The craft beer movement in Italy has focussed on producing food friendly beers which are mainly consumed in restaurants rather than bars. A lot of attention has been paid to bottle design and labelling as illustrated by my sample of Keto Porter. This strikes me as being an eminently sensible marketing strategy and one I wish British craft brewers would follow. I get fed up with going out for a meal and ask for a beer only to be told that the restaurant only has Budweiser or Heineken.
Keto Porter is supplied in an unusual wine flagon-shaped 330ml bottle with a Runic label design. Keto pours a very dark brown/black with a chocolate aroma. It is a sweet rich smooth coffee and chocolate tasting beer with a hint of smoke. I think this would go well with a rich dessert, perhaps a home-made Tiramisu or even some chocolate ice cream. It might also complement a rich beefy casserole. Keto is flavoured with Kentucky tobacco leaves which may add a slightly smoky taste.
Birra del Borgo were formed in 2005 in the town of Borgo which is 40 miles north of Rome. They brew a range of bottled beers including Saison, American Pale Ale, IPA and Belgian style ale. The brewery has a brewpub in Rome and has also opened a bar in New York. Birra del Borgo beers have a number of distributors in the UK and their distinctive shaped bottles should be easy to spot in your local bar or bottle shop.
We import a staggering 1,589,000 hectolitres (280 million pints) of Italian beer mostly comprising the lagers mentioned above. In return we export 360,000 hl. (63 million pints) to Italy. Hopefully our exports are a bit more interesting than the bland lagers that they send us. If Birra del Borgo are typical of Italian craft brewers then I shall certainly look out for more Italian craft beers to review.
There are a lot of musicians of Italian-American heritage such as Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Madonna. My personal favourite is Frank Zappa (1940 -1993) who was a great guitarist, song writer and performer whose music spans a number of genres including jazz, rock, doo-wop and political satire. He released over 60 albums in his lifetime and since his death another 50 albums have been added to his catalogue. One of Franks more accessible tracks is Muffin Man which was originally included on the 1975 album Bongo Fury which also featured Captain Beefheart.
Pop down to your local bakery and buy a muffin, pour a glass of the delicious Keto Porter and thrill to the blistering guitar work of Frank Zappa as he performs Muffin Man.