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Beer Review: Birra del Borgo Duchessic Ale

Italian craft beer
by Mike Lorenz on Dec 19, 2011 in Beer for Barra
Beer Review: Birra del Borgo Duchessic Ale

If one were to oversimplify things, Italy would be known for bread, pasta and wine. Several creative minds are trying to rewrite this story to encompass Italian craft beer, including brewmaster Leonardo Divincenzo and Birra del Borgo. In 2010, the Lazio, Italy-based brewery (just east of Rome) opened New York City’s Birreria in partnership with countrymate Baladin Brewing and Delaware’s Dogfish Head. Thanks to the success of this brewpub atop Mario Batali’s food-and-drink extravaganza Eataly, del Borgo’s increasingly impressive roster of crafts is now spreading throughout the U.S., available in select bottle shops and bars. In Philly, two of the brewery's labels are available on tap at newly-opened Rocchino's, in Old City.

Along with standards and seasonals, del Borgo brews a series of monthly experimental concoctions known as “Le Bizarre.” These are extremely limited editions, released in bottles, kegs and casks. For this review, I tasted the delightful Duchessic ale, a unique blend of del Borgo’s Duchessa saison with a Cantillion lambic.

Poured into a tulip glass from a mini 12-oz. wine bottle, Duchessic releases a foamy white head like that of a traditional saison. The scent is a pleasing combination of the funky, wild yeasts of a saison with the sweet, dark cherry of the lambic. Each sip follows the nose of the beer precisely, perfectly balancing the qualities of the two brew styles. This is a very unique quaff, with a wonderfully crisp mouthfeel finished with a deep, lingering tartness.

Cantillion is one of the most heralded breweries in the world, so building off of their lambic is guaranteed to be a good bet. The recipe leads to a remarkable flavor profile and is a bold innovation. With creations like Duchessic, Birra del Borgo is helping make the case for Italian craft beer.

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