Last month, I told you Dogfish Head Craft Brewery’s new Ancient Ale, Birra Etrusca Bronze, would be hitting beer-store shelves in December. Today, I got my hands on a bottle of Birra Etrusca, the sixth widely distributed beer in Dogfish’s Ancient Ales series. (Dogfish also made two more Ancient Ales, T’ej and Chicha, but they were released in limited quantities.)
The idea behind Dogfish’s Ancient Ales is to recreate lost styles of beer from ancient times, using recipes and ingredients that are as close as possible to those originally used by their brewers. (For some Ancient-Ale-related humor, check out this cartoon that pokes fun at Dogfish.)
Here are some details about Birra Etrusca, from Dogfish Head:
“To develop the recipe for Birra Etrusca Bronze, Dogfish Head’s Sam Calagione traveled to Rome with molecular archaeologist Dr. Pat McGovern. With the help of Birreria Brother Brewers Leo DeVencenzo of Birra del Borgo and Teo Musso of Baladin, they analyzed drinking vessels found in 2,800-year-old Etruscan tombs.”
And here’s my review:
First of all, Dogfish’s Ancient Ales probably aren’t for novice beer drinkers. They’re challenging in a number of ways, and most don’t really taste like beer, at least not what most average drinkers expect beer to taste like.
I poured my 1-pint, 9.4-fl.-oz. bottle slowly into a Dogfish Head Signature Glass, and it formed a small-to-medium size head that dissipated quickly. Carbonation is very fine. The beer is aromatic with notable honey, leather and yeast scents. It’s a nice light, brownish-tan color, and it’s very clear and thin looking when held up to a light.
Birra Etrusca is made with two-row malted barley, heirloom Italian wheat, hazelnut flour, pomegranates, Italian chestnut honey, Delaware wildflower honey and clover honey, raisins, whole-flower hops, gentian root and the sarsaparilla-like Ethiopian myrrh resin, according to the brewer.
The three kinds of honey make this beer taste sweet with notable honey flavors that blend nicely with malty, funky flavors. The brew has an ABV of 8.5%, and the high-ish alcohol content provides a nice warming effect to the mildly bitter aftertaste, which is a result of the hops, gentian root and myrrh resin. Dogfish Birra Estrusca Bronze is definitely a unique, interesting brew, but I’m not sure I’ll ever pick up another bottle again. Like all the other Ancient Ales, it’s more unique than it is very tasty.
My bottle of Birra Etrusca Bronze cost $14.99, which isn’t cheap, but about what I expected, based on the price of other Dogfish specialty beers. It’s also probably not a beer you’ll drink very often, so its $15 tag doesn’t seem too pricey for a special-occasion brew.
Birra Etrusca Bronze is so new it doesn’t even have a BeerAdvocate.com rating yet. But I give it a 6.5 out 10 on the Urban Beer Nerd scale.
Learn more about Dogfish Head Birra Etrusca Bronze on the brewer’s website.