Birra Moretti La Rossa
What do you think of when someone mentions Italy? A
country that has provided the world with classic works of art, architecture and
music? A country with beautiful scenery, and a rich culture? A land that has
been at the forefront as one of the most notable nations in the history of
western civilization? A travel destination with amazing historical sites
ranging from the Roman Coliseum, St. Peters Basilica, Mt. Vesuvius, and St.
Mark’s Square? A country that has fed the masses with exquisite gastronomical
dishes known the world over? A nation that has given us the widest varieties
of wine on the planet. A country that brews excellent beer? Huh? Beer? From Italy?
Are you sure about that? The answer is yes, very much so! There are many,
believe it or not. And some are quite good. But the one that stands out the
most among the beers from the land of my ancestors is that of Birra Moretti La
Rossa, a charming rich dark amber lager style brew that, after you taste it,
will leave you asking yourself, “this is from Italy?”
In a country known more for some of the finest wine in
the world, good Italian beer might sound like an oxymoron. Moretti Brewery puts
a stop to that notion. Located in Udine, in the province of Friuli Venezia
Giulia, near the Slovenian border, Moretti Brewery has been in business since
1859. This once family owned brewery became well known in international
circles even though it is relatively small in size. If you have ever ordered a
Moretti, you will notice on the label that the likeness of an elderly Italian
gentleman with a moustache enjoying his mug of brew is displayed. This logo is
what has made the Moretti name as recognizable as Coca Cola.
Along with La Rossa, Moretti makes their signature light
lager, which can be found at restaurants like the Olive Garden. A malty export
called Sans Souci is also brewed, as well as an all malt beverage called
Moretti Bruna. After exchanging ownership several times, the brewery is now
owned by the international mega beer giant from the Netherlands, Heineken.
I had known about Birra Moretti for several years. My
first experience with Moretti was at the Olive Garden restaurant back in 1990.
The Garden had the Moretti lager in a bottle, so I figured I would give it a
try. Moretti lager is a clear, fizzy, yellow carbonated beer that is typical
of the American style of brewing. Nothing special.
My first experience with Moretti La Rossa, however, was
quite different. When I attended my office Christmas party this past year, we
went to a family style Italian joint called Buca Di Beppo, located at Station
Square in Pittsburgh. Buca is known for bringing their food to you in massive
portions. If you ever go there, bring an appetite and an army because you will
be fed, and they serve too much food for one or two people to handle! Such an
abundance of Italian cuisine coupled with the festive season deserved a special
beer. I saw that La Rossa was on the menu and ordered one. When in Rome?
Buca’s employees referred to La Rossa as Moretti Dark, so
when I placed my order, they were a little confused at first. I can tell you I
was not disappointed when my “Moretti Dark” arrived at the table. Believe it
or not, I actually got some of my fellow office mates to try La Rossa, and the
reaction was positive. We may have all become a little tipsy as a result, but
it was still a good call. So guess what? I ordered another! What the heck,
it was Christmas!
I found La Rossa to be a handsome magnificent brew. The
head was off white, thick and very sturdy, leaving a fair amount of lace. La
Rossa is a beer with the character of a Vienna style lager, almost like an
Oktoberfest, Dopplebock, or Maibock. The dark red to amber hue to me is a work
comparable to that of Da Vinci, with the canvas being the pint glass. Aromas
of citrus and dark malts tantalize the nostrils. It is a very smooth tasting,
malty beer. Robust and sweet. Burnt and lively with a spicy dryness in the
aftertaste that has some bite to it. Be forewarned. La Rossa packs a wallop in
its own right, so I would not recommend it as a session beer. More so I would
say it is an excellent brew to be enjoyed with that large Italian meal, or a
pizza. Now that’s amore!
La Rossa for some reason reminded me of Affligem Dubbel
Abbey Ale from Belgium, but I don’t know why. Could it be because of its
strength? Not sure, but we are talking about two totally different styles of
brewing. Affligem is brewed with candy sugar in the tradition of the Belgian
Trappists. La Rossa does have a sweetish quality to it that does compare to
that style, but more so to the styles that are common to Germany. Hearty,
malty, clean and fresh, but still very much sweet with a considerable amount of
malt bitterness. I don’t know what ingredients are used in the making of La
Rossa, but whatever they use, they roll all of these styles into one fine beer
from a country that is not known for such liquid refreshment.
What more could be said about Birra Moretti La Rossa?
Not much, other than at 7.2% abv, make sure you are not driving after consuming
several of these. If you do ever find yourself out for dinner in a fine
Italian establishment, ask if it is on the beer menu. Remember, when in Rome?
Or even if you are at your favorite beer bar that has a large inventory, see if
La Rossa is available and give it a shot.
La Rossa has been called the best Italian beer in the
world. For a brew that comes from a wine making country, this old paisano
would have to agree with that statement. To those who doubt this, I say go
ahead and drink your Italian wine. I will just keep on enjoying Italy’s best
kept secret. It’s not a bottle of Pinot Grigio or a ski resort in Cortina
D’Ampezzo. It is without a doubt Birra Moretti La Rossa. Molto Bene Moretti,