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Dogfish Head debuts new Ancient Ale, Birra Etrusca Bronze

 
Tue, 11/27/2012 - 11:56am

This Ancient Ale proves that beside the wine on most Italian dinner tables, there should also be a place for beer.

To develop the recipe for Birra Etrusca Bronze, Dogfish Head's Sam Calagione traveled to Rome with molecular archaeologist Dr. Pat McGovern. With the help of Birreria Brother Brewers Leo DeVencenzo of Birra del Borgo and Teo Musso of Baladin, they analyzed drinking vessels found in 2,800-year-old Etruscan tombs.

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Although Italian historians were a little reluctant to admit it, the team clearly found that the Etruscans had a taste for ale.

"In every part of the process, we go for as much authenticity as we can," Calagione says. "Ingredients are often tough to track down, and there can be financial and logistical challenges, but we really love embracing these risks to bring these beers to market."

The backbone of the 8.5% ABV Birra Etrusca comes from two-row malted barley and an heirloom Italian wheat. 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 gentian root and the sarsaparilla-like Ethiopian myrrh resin.

Birra del Borgo and Baladin also will brew a version of Birra Etrusca, and to add complexity and variety, each brewery will ferment its batches with different traditional materials. Dogfish will use bronze, Baladin will use wood, and Birra del Borgo will use terra cotta.

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