I know, I am going out on a limb somewhat here. This is, after all, a wine blog. But I just had to write a piece on this.
It is like this: My good friends Manila Benedetto and Giuseppe Barretta, active in the world of Southern Italian enogastronomy (including design and marketing thereof) and Apulians if ever there were any, are involved with the efforts of Apulian super-microbrewery Birranova. Birranova is an accomplished, inventive and irreverent outfit, making great beers, always with a twinkle in the eyes. Manila and Giuseppe are very much the same: they have an unerring sense for quality, but at the same time are always impishly humorous. They are also great company, exuding that warmth of spirit that sustains life and friendship over distances and time.
In connection with the 21 December 2012 Mayan calendar craze (is it just 6 months ago? It feels like centuries), Manila got together with Birranova to produce a Survival Kit, pictured here:
…. and with contents out of the bag here:
I love the humour, which is as elegant as it is ironic. The bottle on the left says “La Fine Del Mondo” (the end of the world), and the one on the right says “Day After”. The humour works on so many levels, and I obviously had to taste the beers. Unfortunately, for reasons of time and logistics, I could not get my hands on a Survival Kit until earlier this month (care of Manila), so this has obviously lost some of its timeliness, even if the humour still works.
The truth is in the bottle, of course, so here are tasting notes (and with beers, colour really does mean something, so I am including colour notes):
Birrificio Birranova La Fine Del Mondo
Dark amber towards mahogany colour, no carbon dioxide. Dark, dense, toasty nose, slightly sweet, slightly woody, with nuances of slightly floral hops. Powerful and rounded in the mouth, a healthy bitterness – not just of hops – balances out the slight sweetness; very little carbon dioxide, if any. Long, full, densely toasty/coffee-roasted, with herbal and floral hints from the hops. A dark, powerful beer, mostly in a traditional wood-aged English ale style, but round and full; not in any way your typical thirst quencher, much more of a meditation beer, so quite fittingly one for the end of the world. At 9.5% alcohol, several of these might in fact end anyone’s world…
Birrificio Birranova Day After
Not quite so dark, more of a reddish amber/dark caramel colour, slight carbon dioxide. Medium toasty, darkly malted nose, with hints of wood, caramel and herbal/floral hops. Quite full in the mouth, slightly sweet, enlivened by light carbon dioxide, hint of bitterness. Long, with caramelly maltiness, roasted notes, herbal/floral hops, hints of minerality, fading away with notes of dark, bitter honey (such as they make it in the Hadhramaut Mountains of Yemen…). Not a shrinking violet, either, this one, but somewhat lighter and fresher than the end of the world, so both a fittingly upbeat follow-on from that dark hour and a bit of the hair of the dog you might need the day after the world has ended. As the writing on the bottle says, after every ending, there is a new beginning.
These two beers, and the kit, were obviously made for that occasion, in a rather limited number, so you are not likely to run into them anywhere. They are a great testimony to the quality and inventiveness of the Birranova brewery, and the rest of the range is equally good. Highly recommended.
If you are Australian, you might run into the other Birranova beers soon, as my friend Anthony d’Anna at Mondo Imports is about to import them into Australia. The rest of us will have to travel to Apulia to taste them, but I can think of worse fates…