Sunday, October 16, 2011

Birrificio Lambrate in Milan: 1st Italian stop

   I began a trip to Italy by flying to Milan and spending first weekend there.  Navigated their metro system with daughter Tennyson and her guy Gregg to a non-touristy part of the city where craft brewing is practiced at Birrificio Lambrate .  Let's begin by noting a few differences in beer drinking in Italy.  First, there is no minimum age for consumption.  I still have a fondness for Peroni, my first legal beer fifty years ago when I was a callow 20 in Florence. Second, although the wines are justly famous and often fabulous, Italians do like beer and often order it rather than wine with pizza.  However, what is ordered is often mass-produced lager.  In Milan and the north, that is usually the local Moretti, with its pale  lager, or Peroni's  Nastro Azzurro from Rome, also a pale lager.  Nastro Azzurro means Blue Ribbon in Italian but this is not an homage to Pabst.  However, you can get more interesting brews here and there, and the Lambrate folks had drawn quite a crowd as we approached the pub on a Sunday night.
Yes!  People are drinking beer out in the street and society is not crumbling!  Well, not because of this, anyway.  It was just pretty crowded, inside.

We viewed a selection of about six taps; five of the eight they list as year-around brews and one special, called K-Beer (more on that later).  I tried the Porporra, a nice pale ale, which went well with some tasty antipasto.  There was no mention of selling bottled product, although we had seen a bottle of their Lambrate in a nearby shop earlier, and a shelf under the mug collection displayed bottles and glassware that may have been for sale.

We learned that they do have kegs and taps in a few ristoranti and bars.  Their web site has some nice features, like recommended glassware and food pairings.
     About the K-Beer: it was a dark ale with a sort of licorice taste, more like anisette or the Greek ouzo.  I left a note asking what was in it, and Alessandro Brocca, one of the partners, emailed me that they put some perilla, imported from Korea, in with the hops at the end.  Perilla is a member of the mint family that is in fact used in anisette and similar liqueurs. Odd taste but so are the local ales made with lavender.  I wonder if the Strange Brewfest in Port Townsend ever gets a perilla-flavored ale?
(Visited 9/25/11)

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