The other day, I stopped at a liquor store in Farmingdale, NJ to pick up a couple of birthday brews for my longtime friend, podcast-mate, and beer lover Andrew. This particular booze joint always has a good selection of craft beers, and surely enough, there was a crop of strange and experimental bottles from Dogfish Head, which is one of our favorite brewers. Along with a bottle of the brewery’s Black and Blue (which I’ll review at another time), I pulled the trigger on the Birra Etrusca Bronze, which I had never seen before.
This brew delves into the ancient Italian art of brewing, and Dogfish Head really got serious with this one. According to the brewery’s official website, one of the company’s brewers traveled to Rome with a molecular archaeologist to analyze drinking vessels found in Etruscan tombs. If that’s not devotion to an art, I don’t know what is. Based on what was found in those vessels, Dogfish Head came up with a mish-mosh of a beer, loaded with ingredients that stay true to the style of ancient Italian brewing. As it turns out, long before they were known for their wine, the Italians got themselves hopped up on the ales. Who knew?
The Birra Etrusca Bronze is brewed with three different types of honey (one Italian, two from the brewery’s home state of Delaware), Italian wheat, hazelnut flower, raisins, pomegranate juice and pomegranate (I still firmly believe that pomegranate should be put into anything in which it makes sense), hops (of course), gentian root, and even myrrh (just throw some frankincense in there and you have…well, insert your own Jesus jokes here). Because there is so much going on in this beer, it is difficult to pinpoint and concentrate on recognizing all of the individual tastes, but the presence of honey, wheat, hops, a bit of raisin, and pomegranate are hard to miss.
If you’ve been reading my weekly editions of The Beer List, you will have by now noticed a pattern about the beers that I have been reviewing, and that is the fairly high alcohol-by-volume levels that most of them carry. The Birra Etrusca is no exception, rocking with an 8.5% ABV, it will make you sweat as you get further down the large bottle.
Dogfish Head does a service to its craft, and I can’t say I’ve ever had a beer from them that I did not like. If you’re into great beer and you’ve never been to the Dogfish Head Brewery in Delaware, it is thoroughly awesome and worth the trip. There is a restaurant attached to the brewery for you to pad your stomach for the tasting, and the food is quite good.
Come back to The No Seatbelt Blog next weekend for a special but begrudging commemorative edition of The Beer List! Remember, when it comes to beer, if the glass is half anything, you’re doing it wrong.