See, I knew if we waited long enough we’d find an Italian beer worthy of that country’s long gastronomic heritage. You know, we even went there this past April and May and didn’t come up with any knockouts – not for the lack of trying, lemme tell ya. Sure enough, it’s the so-far most celebrated of the Italian brewers importing into the United States – BIRRIFICIO LE BALADIN – who’ve come up with the finest example of Italian craft beer to pass our lips. I suspect that with their full-on assault on the US foodie market – witness their new bar inside the hallowed halls of New York City’s temple of Italian indulgence EATALY – you’ll be seeing a lot more words spilled about the fantastic spiced tripel known as NORA.
NORA, served in a bottle so small that our enjoyment of it had to gently measured and gingerly sipped (the horror!), is a yeasty, fruit-forward ale that may not actually truly be a Belgian-style tripel, but one that shares many of the characteristics of them. That yeast, for one. Chewy, dry and tangy. I suspected the dominant fruit in the mix was apricot (that’s what it tasted like to me), but a little Googlin’ tells me instead that it’s ginger, myrrh and orange peel. Right, of course! Myrrh! And there’s even some hoo-hah about it being from an ancient Egyptian recipe or some such. Alls I know is that it’s a complex but remarkably drinkable ale that will do wonders to promote the newfound vitality of the Italian beer underground. Get some if you can hunt it down, even if it’s trapped inside these little stubby bottles. 9/10.