It is no secret that my geekiness extends far beyond the realm of beer. And I think that most of the people reading this blog understand what I am talking about. (Craft beer enthusiasts tend to walk to the beat of a different drum.)
I am definitely not a vanilla person. (Unless we are talking about putting vanilla bean ice cream into a pint of Rogue Chocolate Stout. That is an entirely different story.)
I love stories. I love finding interesting breweries and beers with cool stories about how they got their names. Heck, a good story gets my every time – regardless of whether or not the story is fact or fiction.
Today I visited a local homebrew store and came across an Italian beer that I had neither seen nor heard of before. And true to my nature, I just had to buy the beer. (I have boxes and boxes of random beers in my closet …)
I love old flicks and I love foreign films. Whereas I have certainly seen my fair share of old American movies, I am much less experienced in the foreign film arena. Which is one reason why Amarcord Birra Artigianale excites me.
The founders of Amarcord gave it its name in honor of the legendary Italian film writer and director, Federico Fellini. Fellini was most known for his bizarre, abstract plots peppered with risque humor. The term “paparazzi” comes from a character named Paparazzo in his film, Dolce vita, La (1960), who is a journalist photographing celebrities.
Fellini was definitely one odd cat. At one point in his life, he worked as a cirus clown … creepy.
Fellini once said, “A created thing is never invented and it is never true: it is always and ever itself.” Life inside his head must have been absolutely fantastic. “Realism is a bad word. In a sense everything is realistic. I see no line between the imaginary and the real.” Funny, I don’t see the line either. (The Wench lives in Never Never Land with Peter Pan and the Lost Boys.)
Amarcord is Fellini’s infamous semi-biographical film. Told through a series of narratives from each of the main character’s perspectives, the film follows some of Fellini’s childhood experiences in the seaside village of Rimini, set against the peak of Fascism in Italy in the 1930s.
In his review of Amarcord, critic Roger Ebert commented: “It’s also absolutely breathtaking filmmaking. Fellini has ranked for a long time among the five or six greatest directors in the world, and of them all, he’s the natural.” In 1974, Amarcord won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film.
Amarcord not only inspired the name of the Italian Brewery, it also inspired the beers. The film’s most absurd and memorable characters decorate the labels of each Amarcord Birra Artisianale.
The Amarcord birra that I stumbled upon today is called La Tabachera. As far as I can tell, this beer was named after (and possibly inspired by) Amarcord’s buxom “Tobacconist” character. But I could be wrong.
Its brewers describe this Double Brown Ale as a “designer beer created for real ale aficionados! It is characterized by the amber-colour of traditional ale and by the distinctive flavour obtained from the use of select premium malts.”
This beer has not exactly recieve raving reivews from craft beer lovers and critics – as I have discovered through a bit of research on the interwebs. Either way, I am going to give it a chance. If anything, the story beind the beer has biased me more towards liking it …
THE BEER WENCH’S TASTING NOTES: Amarcord Birra Artigianale’s LA TABACHERA
Style: Double Brown Ale
Brewery: Amarcord Birra Artisianale
Region:Republic of San Marino, Italy
Pairings:Italian sausage (especially the ones with a bit of spice), Italian cheese (we ate it with a Crescenza – a soft-riped Italian cheese – which paried very nicely!), Italian “Antipasto” (anything salty)
Color: Very cloudy, light “butterscotch” brown.
Carbonation: Mild to moderate carbonation with a small off-white head that dissapates rather quickly. It leaves little to no lacing.
Aroma: Burnt sugar, yeasty dough, slight hints of coffee. Malt is very present in the nose, there is a slight alcoholic essence, and the “aroma hops” are virtually undetectable. My friend Larry says “I get honey, predominently. With straw and clean earth – not like barnyrad, though. Clea nearth.”
Mouthfeel: Surprisingly light bodied. The beer is very thin … not heavy in the least.
Flavor:Flavors of sweet malt, brown sugar and caramel hit first, but then rapidly turn into a burnt carbon taste (just like burnt kettle corn – and I should know). This ale is extremely bitter. I am SHOCKED at how mild the alcohol tastes. There is little to no burn, considering this beer weighs in at a whopping 10% ABV.
“Mild traits of green pepper, not deep – very mild. And fermenting pumpkin.” -Larry
Finish: Very bitter. It’s almost as if the malt was burnt during the roasting process but still used to make the beer, which sounds silly – but is the best way to describe it. (Think about burnt popcorn. You might not burn the whole batch and, although you pick out the burnt kernels, there is still a lingering essence of burnt carbon.)
Larry says “It is a nice, lingering bitterness.”
Comments: Despite its less than exciting reviews, The Wench finds Amarcord Birra Artigianale’s LA TABACHERA to be rather … well, pleasant. It really surprised me. I expected a very un-balanced, overly alcoholic and malty ale. What I actually found was a delightfully bitter, slightly malty … easily drinkable Italian beer. Maybe I was brainwashed by the romantic life story of Federico Fellini. Either way, The Wench says “SALUTE!”
“There is no end. There is no beginning. There is only the infinite passion of life.” -Federico Fellini