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Belt’s Beer Garden: Lager Gone

Two Italian lagers - Peroni Nastro Azzurro & Birra Moretti

If you’ve followed Belt’s Beer Garden since the beginning, you might recall that for the first six months or so I had another Hustle Belt staff member review a beer with me. Well, after a LONG hiatus of reviewing beers myself (since 2/12/2016), our Editor, James H. Jimenez, has decided to throw his hat into the ring and review a beer with me.

His choice - an Italian lager. And, after seeing how excited he was about it, I decided to join him and try one myself. When in Rome, right? ;)

James - Peroni Nastro Azzurro

I’m not someone who consumes beer terribly often; I’m probably best described as a social drinker. I enjoy a handful of craft beers, especially sours and fruits, but mostly stick to hard ciders and spirits.

So it’s a compliment to a regular beer that I can enjoy one and feel good enough about it to recommend it in review form.

Peroni Nastro Azzurro is made by Birra Peroni, based out of Rome, Italy. A single 11.2-ounce bottle has 139 calories, 10.6 carbs, 0 percent fat, and a moderate 5.1 percent alcohol by volume. It’s best classified as a light beer, although it’s technically an Italian light ale.

Peroni Nastro Azzurro translates literally to “Blue Ribbon” in Italian, and it’s apparent why pretty quickly; it’s a very inviting light ale that’s accessible to young and experienced tongues alike.

The beer itself is a very translucent, yellow hue, with a constant fizz that can be hypnotizing to look at. The color is not surprising, given the beer itself is primarily Italian maize. Despite its outward appearance, it is very sneakily dark, with a hoppy aftertaste which will delight the tongue.

The top taste is extremely smooth, with the barley and corn combining nicely at the head, followed by the light brush of hops. (Sorry I didn’t get a picture of the head; I was a little too excited to try the beer out.)

The best part about the beer is that it is a very simple one. It lists only four ingredients on the label: water, barley malt, Italian maize and hops. That’s it, that’s all that’s inside the bottle. As a result, it only has 139 calories per bottle and no fat…which is fantastic if that’s a worry for you.

For someone who isn’t keen on ales, this might be a great introduction to the concept, as it’s a very light one that has the smoothness of a beer, with certain elements of something darker.

Some might get concerned by the fact it’s in a green bottle, which has a bit of a reputation for allowing beer to skunk faster. But I say it’s worth the risk, especially at a price point of approximately $2 for a single bottle at your local Meijer’s.

It’s definitely worth a look, especially if you want to get out of the over-saturated North American craft beer market for a bit. I give it a solid B, edging on a B+

Dave - Birra Moretti

The Italian beer that I chose is available in over 40 countries and in almost every State in America – Birra Moretti.

Birra Moretti is owned by Heineken, and has been since 1996, but their story began all the way back in the mid-1800s. The beer’s recipe was created in 1859 and the first bottle was sold in 1860. And, while a lot has changed since that time, impressively, the recipe used has not.

This Italian lager poured a super pale golden color with about two fingers of head building up. The brew was incredibly light and translucent and the head fizzled down rather quickly, leaving about half a finger of bubbles sitting on top.

Birra Moretti had an incredibly sweet aroma that featured a massive dose of flaked corn and pale malts. There wasn’t too much to it other than the cereal-like grain smell and a hint of bready sweetness.

My first sip begins with a slightly skunked bitterness which, based on the aroma, was slightly expected despite the fact that it comes from a brown bottle and not a green one.

But the other flavors emerged quickly and quashed that funk for the most part. There was a slick grassy flavor that hits first and creates a resinous coating across my tongue before disappeared almost as quickly as it had emerged.

After that, the grains took control and imparted that typical corn flakes cereal-like flavor with just a hint of sweetness and a mild hop bite.

With the exception of the early skunky notes, there was no real flavor variation from the beginning of the sip to the end. It was a very simple brew. You knew what you were going to get – that stereotypical “beer” flavor with some light hops hitting in the background.

It’s a pretty basic lager and, if you enjoy the style, you’ll most likely enjoy the beer. Decent for the style but lacking overall for me.

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