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Home / Doug's Beer Republic  /   Review: Menabrea Bionda

     
Menabrea Bionda 
Posted: 7 May 2015  Beer Republic 5.0 
Menabrea Bionda from Italy Menabrea's Bionda is good, don't get me wrong.  It's not great.  Treat Menabrea like a Ghirardelli chocolate.  The image looks marvelous.  When you look inside though, you're a bit less impressed.  Hmmmm.. Sounds exactly like most superhero movie sequels.          
Avg price/liter: USD 5.71   ABV %: 4.8  Type: Lager   
       


Menabrea claims that in the stylish bars of Milan and Turin, if you ask for a beer, it's likely you'd be served Menabrea.  I'll be going to Italy in a month, but I won't be going to Milan or Turin this time, so I can't put that claim to the test.        

Menabrea has the classic mythological history.  At this point, who cares how true it is?  These guys deserve credit just for coming up with one.  Supposedly, in 1846, Giuseppe Menabrea visited the town of Biella located at the foothills of the Italian Alps.  He located some underground caves there.  At that time, before modern refrigeration, a brewer would have required something like a cave system in order to brew lagers, which require cooler temperatures and longer fermentation times.  According to the company PR, the same beer is brewed at the sample place in the same way by the same family today.          

I don't know if I'd call Menabrea mainstream in Italy.  They produce 100,000 hectoliters annually. Is that a lot? Well, it's a lot more than the 5,800 hectoliters Birradamare is producing.             

The data is instrumental in putting together a rough picture of the pecking order of Italian brewing.  The brewers which tend to produce millions of hectoliters annually are mainstream brewers with a certain mainstream level of quality, let's call that a 4.  In Italy, this throne would be occupied by Peroni, with 5m hectoliters.  This beer is the cheapest and the most readily available. The small artisanal brewers, due to their care and craftsmanship, produce much higher quality beer, say an 8.5, but at a much higher cost.   Breweries like Menabrea hit the spot in between.  These breweries produce beer in the 5-6 range, more expensive than the mainstream brewers but cheaper than the true artisanal ones.      

A true artisanal brewer would probably not add adjuncts like corn unless the corn were part of the flavor profile they were after. More mainstream brewers use adjuncts to brew the beer cheaper. Menabrea says they get their barley from Vitry-le-Francois in the Champagne region, their hops from Bavaria, and their water from the pure Alpine Glaciers. But they also use "brewer's maize" (corn).   Menabrea means 'great' .... up to a certain level.       

Menabrea's Bionda is good, don't get me wrong.  It's not great.  The beer is superior to Thailand's ubiquitous golden lager Singha, but as it's a significantly more expensive as well, I realized they probably satiated the palate and the pocketbook combined equally as well.       

Treat Menabrea like a Ghirardelli chocolate.  The image looks marvelous.  When you look inside though, you're a bit less impressed.  Hmmmm.. Sounds exactly like most superhero movie sequels.        

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