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Old November 17 2012, 06:46 AM   #1
Alidar Jarok
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Dogfish Head's newest Ancient Ale: Etruscan Beer

Dogfish Head, which has previously made Phrygian Beer (King Midas's Tomb), 9000 year-old Chinese Beer, 3200 year-old Honduran Beer, and Ancient Egyptian Beer have unveiled their newest ancient beer: Etruscan Beer.

It's called Birra Etrusca

To develop the recipe for Birra Etrusca Bronze, Dogfish Head's Sam Calagione traveled to Rome with molecular archaeologist Dr. Pat McGovern. With the help of Birreria Brother Brewers Leo DeVencenzo of Birra del Borgo and Teo Musso of Baladin, they analyzed drinking vessels found in 2,800-year-old Etruscan tombs.

Although Italian historians were a little reluctant to admit it, the team clearly found that the Etruscans had a taste for ale.

"In every part of the process, we go for as much authenticity as we can," Calagione says. "Ingredients are often tough to track down, and there can be financial and logistical challenges, but we really love embracing these risks to bring these beers to market."

The backbone of Birra Etrusca comes from two-row malted barley and an heirloom Italian wheat. Specialty ingredients include hazelnut flour, pomegranates, Italian chestnut honey, Delaware wildflower honey and clover honey. A handful of whole-flower hops are added, but the bulk of the bitterness comes from gentian root and the sarsaparilla-like Ethiopian myrrh resin.
What's more, Dogfish Head is teaming up with two Italian brewers, so there will be three versions: Bronze (Dogfish Head), Wood (Baladin), and Terra Cotta (Birra del Borgo) based on the vessel it's brewed in. Here's a video: Link. It's oddly half in English, half in Italian, so sorry about that.

Anyway, I'm excited about this. I'm a big fan of these ancient beers. Midas Touch, especially, is a great beer. While there's some creative license in choosing the exact ingredients, they do take pains to find out what many of the ingredients actually were. And it helps connect everyone with the past. After all, beer drinking is something we both have in common (and we have beer to thank for the creation of civilization).
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Old November 17 2012, 11:30 AM   #2
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Re: Dogfish Head's newest Ancient Ale: Etruscan Beer

Wow. I'm not a huge beer fan, but I am a huge History fan and the idea of drinking something identical to ancient people fascinates me. And it looks like there's a couple of places nearby that sell the stuff. Cool.
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Old November 17 2012, 11:33 AM   #3
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Re: Dogfish Head's newest Ancient Ale: Etruscan Beer

Yes, I must say the process appeals to me. The historical research involved, the idea of reproducing the experience of those who lived in those times, the desire to use authentic ingredients - it seems a rewarding project.
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Old November 17 2012, 11:09 PM   #4
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Re: Dogfish Head's newest Ancient Ale: Etruscan Beer

Are they still making episodes of Brewmasters? That was a fun show.
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Old November 18 2012, 06:16 AM   #5
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Re: Dogfish Head's newest Ancient Ale: Etruscan Beer

Thank you for making this thread, Alidar Jarok. It inspired me to go and buy some beer from this company and I'm very pleased. I got Midas Touch and Palo Santo Marron. I love the Palo Santo as it has a very rich caramel taste and a creamy texture. Midas Touch tastes more like wine but it has a beer aftertaste. Interesting stuff.
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Old November 18 2012, 11:07 AM   #6
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Re: Dogfish Head's newest Ancient Ale: Etruscan Beer

I went down to the closest place and all they had in stock was Midas Touch (in four-packs). It tasted like beer. I'll have to make the rounds of some other nearby places when I get a chance to see if I can track down the other varieties.
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Old November 18 2012, 12:00 PM   #7
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Re: Dogfish Head's newest Ancient Ale: Etruscan Beer

Unfortunately for me, I don't think Dogfish Head distribute over on my side of the Atlantic anymore. If they did, I'd pop out and give some of their variants a try.
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Old November 18 2012, 12:22 PM   #8
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Re: Dogfish Head's newest Ancient Ale: Etruscan Beer

Owain Taggart wrote: View Post
Are they still making episodes of Brewmasters? That was a fun show.
Sadly, no. According to Discovery channel, it was only supposed to last a couple of episodes. According to Anthony Bourdain (travel channel guy who travels around the world eating), it got cancelled because the big beer companies said they would pull their sponsorship otherwise.

6079SmithW wrote: View Post
Thank you for making this thread, Alidar Jarok. It inspired me to go and buy some beer from this company and I'm very pleased. I got Midas Touch and Palo Santo Marron. I love the Palo Santo as it has a very rich caramel taste and a creamy texture. Midas Touch tastes more like wine but it has a beer aftertaste. Interesting stuff.
Good choices, both are among my favorites.

Deranged Nasat wrote: View Post
Unfortunately for me, I don't think Dogfish Head distribute over on my side of the Atlantic anymore. If they did, I'd pop out and give some of their variants a try.
Yeah, unfortunately, they don't even have enough production to cover the entire United States. They would definitely do much to improve the reputation of American beer internationally, but they're still too small scale to actually pull it off. I'm sort of in the opposite boat, since I'm curious to try all three variants of this Etruscan beer and two of them are in Italy.
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Old November 18 2012, 04:01 PM   #9
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Re: Dogfish Head's newest Ancient Ale: Etruscan Beer

This is a really cool concept to research and recreate old time beers.

My only issue with Dogfish Head beers though is they tend to be wayyyy too hoppy for my tastes.
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Old November 18 2012, 08:09 PM   #10
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Re: Dogfish Head's newest Ancient Ale: Etruscan Beer

Alidar Jarok wrote: View Post
Owain Taggart wrote: View Post
Are they still making episodes of Brewmasters? That was a fun show.
Sadly, no. According to Discovery channel, it was only supposed to last a couple of episodes. According to Anthony Bourdain (travel channel guy who travels around the world eating), it got cancelled because the big beer companies said they would pull their sponsorship otherwise.

That's a shame as it was one of the only shows about beer and went in-depth about the process. It was on the Science channel here for awhile.
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Old November 18 2012, 10:07 PM   #11
Alidar Jarok
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Re: Dogfish Head's newest Ancient Ale: Etruscan Beer

SmoothieX wrote: View Post
This is a really cool concept to research and recreate old time beers.

My only issue with Dogfish Head beers though is they tend to be wayyyy too hoppy for my tastes.
Well, that's one nice thing about the Ancient Ales. Hops hadn't yet been added to beers. They only add the minimum amount so they can legally call it beer.
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Old November 19 2012, 12:34 PM   #12
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Re: Dogfish Head's newest Ancient Ale: Etruscan Beer

Alidar Jarok wrote: View Post
Here's a video: Link. It's oddly half in English, half in Italian, so sorry about that.
Don't be sorry. (Also, I loved how they explained the term piciu/picio, from my beloved Piedmont ).

Also, unknown to most, there is a small but strong beermaking tradition in Italy, but it usually gets buried under the huge (and excellent) production of wine. I'm not particularly fond of mass distribution beers (for example, Peroni and Nastro Azzurro) but there are a few local beers that are very good, like Birra Menabrea (again from Piedmont), and Ichnusa from Sardinia.

Anyway, it's a very interesting endeavour. I'd love to try some of those "ancient beers": I haven't seen them in Italy, but I'm going to have a look for them.
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Old November 19 2012, 02:34 PM   #13
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Re: Dogfish Head's newest Ancient Ale: Etruscan Beer

I was only familiar with the mass-produced beers in Italy that would make it to this country, which are fairly disappointing. It's good to hear that there are good smaller brews (much like here). If you see the Etruscan Ale, let me know what you think of it.
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Old January 21 2013, 05:38 AM   #14
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Re: Dogfish Head's newest Ancient Ale: Etruscan Beer

Well, I finally got a chance to try it, so I thought it would be worth a bump:





My verdict? I like it. It's a very sweet beer with very little bitterness. There's definitely strong fruit tastes, but it still tastes like a beer. It's an ale, but there's not many hops and almost no bitterness (the bitterness mostly comes from Myrrh and gentian root). Overall, I found it very enjoyable. Obviously, Dogfish Head isn't available nationwide (and no longer internationally), but it's worth it if you can get your hands on it. Plus, it's a neat way to essentially taste history.

For those living in Italy, the alternate versions (Terracotta and Wood) can let you try it as well. If anyone wants to trade, I'd definitely be interested
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Old January 21 2013, 10:02 AM   #15
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Re: Dogfish Head's newest Ancient Ale: Etruscan Beer

I had it and thought it smelled and tasted like the incense used in a church. It was good but I wouldn't drink it again. By the way this thread started me down the tasty and expensive road of craft beer.
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