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Menabrea Beer Review

Italy. A land where history, culture, architecture and art drip like olive oil from a crostini. And speaking of haute cuisine, their grub isn’t too shabby either. Having just returned from Tuscany, I can certainly vouch for that.

But never mind Florence’s art treasures. Or the Etruscan heritage. Not to mention Pucini’s villa. Leaning Towers? Pah! What we all really want to know is: What’s the beer like? is it any good?


Well, I didn’t drink every beer available…no, really. But here’s one I did have.

Menabrea are a family concern who have been brewing beer for over 150 years in the Italian town of Biella. These days, they have a ‘partnership’ with the larger brewer, Forst. They brew a few different products, but probably their most successful, and the one this review concerns, is the imaginatively titled lager, Birra Menabrea. According to their website, it’s a bottom fermented, export quality premium lager brewed with malt, maize, hops, yeast and water…wait a minute. Maize? Oh dear.

“A well-balanced beer with a marked floral fruitiness coming through from the aromatic yeasts.
Pale yellow appearance, moderately light bodied, mild bitterness, taste: excellent”

This beer pours a somewhat anemic, pale golden colour with masses of tiny of bubbles streaming to a decent, though short-lived, head of white foam. Not a lot of lace.

The aroma is a little grassy, with some floral hops and a hint of biscuity malt. It’s not exactly parting your nostrils to assail your olfactory glands though – very subtle on the nose.

It has quite a smooth mouthfeel, but it’s definitely over-carbonated (on the website, they state how much Co2 they put in each bottle…not a good sign). The initial taste is sharp, acidic and bitter which is soon overwhelmed by a sugary-sweet flavour. Midway, there’s a metallic edge to it, which cuts away the sweetness before the sharp bitterness once again dominates towards the finish and leaves a dry, and overly bitter aftertaste. If there was any fruit flavour in this, I missed it.

At 4.8% ABV, I can’t say I was impressed with this beer. It wasn’t particularly bad (it wasn’t particularly good either), it was just nondescript and almost forgettable. Think any one of a 100 Euro-lagers and you’ll have some idea of what this beer was like. It was refreshing enough, but it was ice-cold – I shudder to think what it would have been like if’n I given it a chance to warm up. A run-of-the-mill fizzy lager which, in a blindfold test, could pass for anything (apart from a quality beer, that is).

Would I drink it again? – Maybe, but not blindfolded…what a mess.