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Dogfish and Birreria/Eataly roll out sneak peek of new Ancient Ale

Tue, 06/26/2012 - 2:43pm

The first American batch of Birra Etrusca, the newest beer in Dogfish Head's series of Ancient Ales, is now on tap at Eataly New York's rooftop pub Birreria.

To re-create this centuries-old brew, Dogfish Head President and Founder Sam Calagione once again partnered with University of Pennsylvania molecular archaeologist Dr. Patrick McGovern.

EtruscaMolecular archaeologist Dr. Pat McGovern and Dogfish Head's Sam Calagione discuss their latest creation in Eataly New York's test kitchen.

In March, Sam and Dr. Pat traveled to Rome, and with the help of Italian brewers Leo DeVencenzo of Birra del Borgo and Teo Musso of Baladin, analyzed drinking vessels found in 2,800-year-old Etruscan tombs.

Although Italians are known for their love of wine, it was clear that their ancestors also had a taste for ale. Together, the team brewed a test batch of this complex liquid time capsule near Rome.

Now, the first American test batch, made by Birreria Head Brewer Peter Hepp and Dogfish Head Brewmaster Tim Hawn, is going on tap. It's expected to last about two weeks.

Etrusca 2Birreria Head Brewer Peter Hepp and Dogfish Head Brewmaster Tim Hawn prep specialty ingredients for the first American batch of Birra Etrusca.

The backbone of Birra Etrusca comes from two-row malted barley and an heirloom Italian wheat called senatore capelli. Specialty ingredients include hazelnut flour, pomegranates, Italian chestnut honey, Delaware wildflower honey and clover honey. A handful of whole-flower hops are added, but the bulk of the bitterness comes from Ethiopian myrrh resin and the sasparilla-like gentian root.
To add complexity and variety, each brewery will ferment Birra Etrusca differently. Dogfish will use bronze, Baladin will use wood, and Birra del Borgo will use terra cotta.
"In every part of the process, we go for as much authenticity as we can," Calagione says. "It creates financial challenges, it creates logistical challenges, but we really love embracing these risks to bring these beers to market."
For an early taste of Birra Etrusca, visit Birreria at 200 5th Ave. in Manhattan. Watch for the first production batches in late fall.