My Antonia – Birra del Borgo & Dogfish Head

My Antonia

With the Great British Beer Festival behind me for another year I took stock of my beer shelf. With some new Italian additions acquired at the festival to insert into the pile, I noticed that I still had a couple of bottles left over from last year. To clear out some space and celebrate the fact that it was Thursday I decided that one needed to be drunk – I chose the transatlantic Birra del Borgo/Dogfish Head collaborative imperial pils, My Antonia.

This was a beer I took on recommendation and didn’t realise it was a collaboration until several months after I got it home. When I finally did realise I was quite pleased, as my history with interesting beers from abroad started with Dogfish Head.

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Birra Toccalmatto – #EBBC13

Birra Toccalmatto

When preparing to go to The European Beer Bloggers conference I did a bit of research into who else was going. Helpfully the folks at #EBBC13 put up a list of attendees and one thing immediately struck me – there were a lot of brewery folks going. Along with big names like Garrett Oliver, there were a number of folks whose names I didn’t know who made beers I like, and a bunch of breweries I’d not even heard of. During the opening pub crawl, I got talking to one of the folks from the latter category who, if I’d made a list, would have been someone I’d have sought out: Bruno Carilli, the founder of Birra Toccalmatto.

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AMA Bionda from Amarcord and Brooklyn

Ama Bionda

I looked at my beer shelf the other day and realised I’ve been neglecting some of the interesting bottles. One that looked especially accusing was a beer that I picked up at the Great British Beer Festival last August, part of my now traditional (I’ve done it twice) drunken buying of decent Italian beer. I managed to write about a couple of the bottles I picked up at the show in 2011 (Imperial Ghisa and Bastarda Rossa – best beer name evar) but I’ve still got a couple sat on the shelf from 2012. I thought I’d start with the prettiest looking – AMA Bionda.

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Imperial Ghisa

I have tragically discovered that I’m running out of beer. This is a good thing, as increasingly I’m finding that my “I can’t drink that yet, I’ve only got one of them” attitude is leading to occasionally spoiled beers and the increasing lack of bottles is forcing me to crack them open. However, the the star of today’s post is not spoiled – Imperial Ghisa from Birrificio Lambrate.

I picked this one up at the Great British Beer Festival last year and totally forgot about it, which wasn’t hard due to my advanced state of ruin by the time I got to the Italian bar. When it popped up as next in the Cupboard of Surprise I had no idea what to expect without obsessive internet research to help me. Google, be my guide…

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Grunge IPA

It’s been a busy few weeks, with stag dos, working at weekends and a cow-orker off looking after his newborn son leaving me to take the photos at work (having proper gear makes taking product shots much easier. In related news – congrats to Petras and Jurgita!), so the blog has lain fallow. However, behind the scenes I have been doing Things, and stuff. To kick start my posting again here’s another Italian beer from my GBBF 2011 stash, the un-Italianly named Grunge IPA from Birrificio Indipendente Elav.

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Bastarda Rossa

One of the delights of beer festivals for me is the bottled beer stand. Not necessarily for the there and then drinking, but more for the drunken acquisitions that I take home. Often they seem so very appealing at the point of purchase only to turn out to be pretty labels wrapped around a bottle of beer made specifically to the taste of the guy who made it, but increasingly I’m finding some gems.

At this year’s GBBF the Bières sans Frontières stand had grown considerably and been split up amongst a number of bars by country. I was very pleased to see that one of the countries that was well represented this year was Italy, a land that I associated until recently with fizzy yellow beer that tastes pretty good but always costs too much compared to the wine in the restaurant where you’re trying it. However, after reading Zak Avery’s tales of wandering around the beer spots of Rome last summer I realised that there was something I was missing about Italian beer, and I don’t like missing out. I had a long and drunken chat with the chap on the bar and he recommended me a few beers, including one that I chose mainly for the name – Bastarda Rossa.

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