Feb 28, 2012

Birra Amiata Contessa

Contessa Pale Ale photo

Perhaps it’s an unfounded stigma, but I would never make an association between solid craft beer and Italy. I’ve tried/sampled many from the country over the years and only one truly stood out for me — a bottle of Baladin Nora. Other than that, I tend to ignore products from that area of Europe.

If more Italian beers were like this bottle of Birra Amiata Contessa (a 7% ABV Pale Ale) well, then I can safely say that my opinion would need to be revised. This tasty treat of a beer is well balanced and of a rather delicate nature, never pushing the hops too hard at any one time. It’s an easy drinking beer despite it’s elevated alcohol content that was quite refreshing on a relatively warm February afternoon.


I was initially worried upon first opening this attractively shaped bottle. There was nary a hiss of carbonation when the seal was broken. Thankfully, it poured with a one finger white head that rested atop a slightly hazy, golden straw colored brew.


The beer has a delicate nose with hints of citrus, pine, honey and a light bready malt base.


The first thing you notice is the soft mouthfeel, then the hops. Citrusy and grassy in nature initially, the hop character flows smoothly past lightly toasted bready malts to a dry finish that seems to have an ever increasing level of hop astringency that lasts a good long while. It’s not hoppy in the sense that it’ll bite you, but it does carry a rather refined hop presence with plenty of light citrus fruits and an approachable level of bitterness. Along with the fruit, there’s a touch of earthy honey that persists throughout the drinking experience. There’s barely a hint of the higher alcohol content making for a deceptively drinkable and refreshing brew.


I’m thoroughly pleased and thankful that I was given the opportunity to sample this Italian brew. Much like the Nora that I’ve had in the past, if more products coming from Italy matched this quality and flavor, I would be singing a different tune regarding the country’s beer. My only regret with Contessa, is that I didn’t have another one to enjoy immediately after finishing this tasting.

Rating: 4/5

This is a review of a promotional sample received from the beer’s importer.

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