Profiled by Maria Devan
I have not had a beer from birra del borgo before and when I saw this I grabbed it. The number on the bottle says 25 but the word is dodici and that does not mean twenty five. This is a Christmas beer as you may have guessed because docici /25 would be 12/25. The brewer lists this as a winter warmer but I think this beer is one of the best barleywines I have tried. In the category of barleywines you will notice three variations on the style. The american barleywine, the english barleywine and the old ale. However because of the addition of bitter orange peel it is classified as a winter warmer. This beer is 9.5 percent. Malts are Pilsner malt, Munich , vienna , cara munich , cara weizen, chocolate. Hops are hallertau northern brewer, hallertau hersbrucker, styrian golding, simcoe.
Pours a sweet rusty orange. hazier at first then clearing with a few big bubbles but no head in the tasting glass.
Nose is brown sugar, orange, toffee, spice, hints of lemon, caramel and earth.
Drinks beautifully. Complex malt and vivacious fruity character. Rich and mellow but the hops dance on the palate. Pepper, spice and a generous herbal. Orange. The herbal form the hops will show you a very generous malt that is so sweetly done you almost have to close your eyes to really see it fully. When you do you will taste nuts, brittle caramel or hard crack caramel, sweet cake-y bread. A wild hint of medicinal alcohol and then the perfect swallow. No harshness, no bite and hardly any bitterness from all those hops. Instead the bitterness you taste is from the orange and that is a bit of an illusion because the tip of your tongue does tingle a little as you notice a light mineral softness to the body of the beer. Tobacco leaf, light cocoa. It feels like silk.
This was one of the best beers I have had this year . Cheers and Happy New Year everyone!
Welcome to the PGA beer rating system: one beer “Don’t bother.” Two: Eh, if someone gives it to you, drink. Three: very good, go ahead and seek it out, but be aware there is at least one problem. Four: seek it out. Five: pretty much “perfecto.”
Maria Devan lives in Ithaca, NY and is a great beer writer. That’s Maria in the middle. The other two are not, but they are lucky to have her as a friend.