When you think about drinking in Italy, beer probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. And why would it? With wine being such an entrenched part of the culture, andan ample array of amari to choose from, it’s almost unnecessary. But, much like everyone else, Italians have caught the brewing bug in recent years, a few examples of which you can try now at Davio's locations around Massachusetts.
“It’s definitely a new segment for us. It's something we haven't attacked yet per se,” Davio's Boston general manager John Minks says of introducing four new Italian brews to their menu. “I think craft beer in general is on the rise. It fit our niche here." While the Italian steakhouse is traditionally more wine-focused, they’ve branched out into smaller, and local beers, but "we really haven't reached out to that higher end beer person who's seeking something a bit more.”
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Something more comes both in style, flavor, and price here, with each of the beers, including one from Italy’s LoverBeer, one from Birra Del Borgo, and two from Birrificio Le Baladin, ranging between $15-22.
The four options represent a broad range of styles. The most approachable, and so far the most popular seller for them, is Baladin Nora, a lightly hoppy brew spiced with ginger and orange peel. Like the other three, it’s served at cellar temperature, around 60 degrees. “We’re not masking any of the flavors with your traditional 34 degrees. And serving it in a wine glass makes a statement that it’s a little bit something special,” he says.
The Baladin Super, coming in at a hefty 8% abv, pulls in the opposite direction, with a distinct floral nose, a subtle nuttiness and stone fruit, and a light rose color. Minks likens it to marzipan in flavor, adding that it’s “still approachable, not like an over-hopped beer that's way too bitter.”
Neither are out of the range of familiarity of the average beer drinker, although BeerBera, on the other hand, is a show-stopper, and I’m not sure if that’s in a good or bad way. Made with barbera grapes, the sharp cherry tartness is a bit of a shock, but in such a way that makes you want to keep going back to taste it again. “It’s definitely a little different, and I always suggest people share it,” Minks says. At 8% abv and $22, that’s probably a good idea. “It's not my favorite, but people like that tartness now.” It’s likely best suited for an after dinner drink, balancing out the tartness with something sweet.
You should have no such reservations about the Perle Ai Porci, however, despite its ingredients. An English style stout, it’s brewed with oyster shells that leave a hint of brine in the lightly chocolate, milky texture. “I think people get scared of this one, but honestly, unless you're looking for it, you might not even know there's a salty brine to it. It’s light, not like a Guinness with that big mouthfeel,” he says. “It doesn’t drink like that at all. If anybody likes a stout, I think they'll like this.”
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75 Arlington St., Boston