/ Doug's Beer Republic /
Review: Menabrea Bionda
Posted: 7 May 2015
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
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).
'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.