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Birra Etrusca | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

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Birra EtruscaBirra Etrusca

Brewed by:
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Delaware, United States | website

Style: Herbed / Spiced Beer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
This beer is based on a beverage that may have been enjoyed by the Etruscans of Ancient Italy around 800 BC. A strong ale containing an Italian heirloom grain called Cappelli Senatore, along with pomegranate juice, raisins, and hazelnut flour, together with 3 types of honey: chestnut, wildflower, and clover. Spiced with several hop flowers, Gentian root and tree resin (think Myrrh) in the kettle.

Added by billab914 on 12-09-2012

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Reviews: 142 | Ratings: 768
Photo of colts9016
3.93/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pour the beer into a chalice glass, since it is an ancient ale. A hard pour produced a pathetic head that immediately dissipated. The color of the beer is a rich Amber hue with orange, rust, and mahogany hues. The beer has some carbonation bubbles that rise to the top. It is knida neat to see it.

The nose on the beer is complex the labels says pomegranate, but I only can detect some fruitiness, the malt is toasty, biscuit, yeasty, a herbal like medicinal and grass. This is odd but the nose has this smell like a freshly painted room. A floral and perfume note on the back end.. The Nose is very fragrant.

Taste: Immediately there is that medicinal herbal note with grass, wheat, kinda like yarrow tea. The taste is weedy, slightly sweet, biscuit, yeast, fruity, floral and oranges.

Mouth-feel: A dry tannin like feel, that is bitter, but not astringent, carbonated, and the finish lingers for a few moments.

Overall: Ok this beer is one strange cookie, just like what Dogfish is known to do. I can not tell you if I really like or not. I have this bomber to drink. The strong herbal note takes minute to understand. It is made well and great for its style.

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Photo of sjdevel
4.12/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Hazy and a deep copper brown color. Fairly light on carbonation. 1-finger head and recedes rapidly. Some residual bubbles continue to flow up, but not enough to replenish the foam bed.

Smells of sour fruit up front. Some floral properties either from hops or other ingredients. Spices quickly take over. There are many different grassy and herbal notes that take turns hitting your nostrils.

Instant bitterness and sourness. There is a bite at first, then it kicks into a sour fruit, wine, and vinegar. It starts to sweeten a bit, just before the earthiness rolls in. Wow, it’s hard to describe the earthiness. There are flavors of fresh cracked black pepper, grass, tree lings, roots, plants, leaves, rocks, minerals… well just about everything else imaginable. The sweetness fades and the spices start to fade, then there seems to be some evidence of late addition hops (or some other ingredient taking on the same role). It dries out a bit more and you are left with a slightly smoky malt flavor and fruit.

Medium+ mouthfeel. Not very fizzy, but it doesn’t totally go flat. A bit oily and slick. It is quite interest though.

This was a very interesting brew. There are a lot of flavors in there that you can’t quite place and keeps you guessing. One sip seems a bit different from the next. I am a big Dogfish Head fan. I am an off-centered person and love their off-centered beers!!!!!

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Photo of Zythophile
4.1/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Bottle Date: 6/16/15
Palate Contaminants: spicy stuff an hour before

Another Ancient Ale. Gotta love the initiative.

Appearance is a slightly opaque light brown.

Smell is pleasant. It's starts like mead, but then the dried fruit really dominates.

Everything that's in the taste is in the smell, but the balance is different. It actually starts out like a really hearty hefeweizen, then the unique nature shows. Raisins, prunes, and honey dominate. It's actually like a sweet trailmix, if that makes any sense.

Feel shoots par.

This is one that I'd be happy to have again, but I have too many other things to try for me to go looking, but it is a pretty good beverage.

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Photo of maddogruss
3.63/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 2.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: pours dark golden body with amber tones with a thin white head with no real retention or lacing.
S: herbal, honey, sweet alcohol notes with some fruity undertones
T: sweet, herbal tasting beer. Hazelnuts are a little relevant, some piney notes and an earthy aftertaste. Alcohol aftertaste
M: medium bodied and pretty smooth
D: ok mouthfeel and taste combination for a good drinking beer; definitely not a session beer, but still goes down pretty well!

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Photo of Wasatch
4.12/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled On: 06/17/13

About 2.5 yrs. on this bottle

Poured into a DFH glass a pretty nice clean/clear golden brown color, very nice carbonation, with a very nice one-finger creamy/fizzy off-white head, which leaves some sticky lacing behind. The nose is malty, yeasty, some figs, raisins, plums, grapes. The taste is malty, yeasty, with some dark fruits, slightly tart/sweet, slightly spicy. Medium body, ABV hidden very well. Overall, a tasty brew. Reminds me of a BSDA with a twist.

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Photo of Sabtos
2.57/5  rDev -31.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.5

What in the world is going on with this? This is like the most extreme version of a Christmas ale I've ever had, and it's not even advertised as such. There is so much spice in this it's beyond comprehension. As I've said with other DFH ancient ales, they didn't always do things better in the past.

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Photo of Gajo74
4.02/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very interesting and unique brew. Golden, honey colored pour;nice looking. Sweet aroma and taste, fruity, pomegranate, honey, raisins. Yet, it is not so sweet that it doesn't taste like beer. This is because the herbs and spices do a great job of balancing it out. Smooth and sweet finish and feel.Relatively light but quite flavorful. Another bold creation of DFH.

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Photo of qcghost
4.02/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Interesting brew. Poured on tap at the brewery. Unique aroma of raisin, sweet honey, and fruit. Very sweet taste and finish. I thought there would be a little more body to the beer with the higher ABV. Overall not a bad drink but Dogfish has put quite a few better ones out there.

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Photo of mandy_mic700
4.1/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got a 10oz pour at the Dogfish Head brewery. Candy-like sweetness, carefully balanced with spice. I am not one for sweet brews, so the I definitely appreciated the spice which broke up the sweetness a bit. Definitely one of my favorites from DFH.

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Photo of hophugger
3.39/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a slightly deep gold color with decent head and lacing. Aromas of dark fruit, some candy essences and sweet malt . Taste is of hard candy, raisins, exotic fruit and some bready malt. Cloying sweetness lingers for awhile with a touch of hop bitterness..

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Photo of StJamesGate
3.81/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pale mahogany with white film. 3.75
Perfumed, almost greasy floral notes. Nice! 4
Forest honey, honeysuckle, some slight nuts, and a sour end. 3.75
Chestnut end and Pom juice linger.
Halfway to medium, sticky, round. 3.75

Made with honey, hazelnut, myrrh, and pomegranate, among others.

Sweet and perfumed. Brings a lot for having no hops. But more interesting proof of concept i.e. not hugely drinkable. 4

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Photo of jngrizzaffi
3.51/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours a hazy dark amber to slightly red color with a small carbonated head. Head retention and lacing are non-existent. Can definitely smell the pomegranate. Maybe some slight raisin. Very fruity. Strong pomegranate taste with some raisin at the end. My wife says she can taste the hazelnut, but I am having trouble with it. Light bodied with high carbonation. Decent taste but not what I really expect from a beer. No hoppiness.

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Photo of IckyT2012
4.22/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Found this bottle aged 3 years. I don't know what it tasted like fresh, but the honey is strong with this one. Drinks more like a fruit juice than a beer.

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Photo of EMV
4.17/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bomber into a tulip glass.

L: Pours a deep clear mahogany color with 1 finger of off-white head that falls rapidly.

S: Smells of dark fruits and cherries. Honey sweetness and alcohol.

T/F: Tart at the start... cherries and plums that is well balanced by honey and spices. Delicious flavor, nice alcoholic warmth, and a smooth finish. Carbonation is mild to moderate.

O: Great little beer and off the beaten path. I like this more than others in the style.... and more fruit/honey and less spice I think is a good thing. I'd enjoy having this again and another fine effort from Dogfish Head.

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Photo of Moneypenny
3.64/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Begins like apple cider. Minimal head dissipates quickly. Sam Calagione's video on this brew shows a head that stays consistently in the cumulonimbus region. Maybe he added sat like they used to do on Cheers to keep the head on Norm's mug of Near Bear. In any case, the cloudy apple cider appearance becomes transluscent over time (and mind you, you do not want to drink this one quickly).

On the nose, Birra Etrusca is strong on stone fruit, specifically stewed prunes and raisins. The alcoholic punch belies it's 8.5% ABV. It drinks more like a 12%. As it ages in the glass, the deep, rich chocolate notes shimmer through.

There is something disturbingly familiar about its presence, as if I'd worn it last week as a fragrance, or my ancient long dead self drank this in front of my late husband king's funeral pyre. Mission Accomplished.

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Photo of NCMatt
4.15/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

It's a bit spicy and a bit tart but nothing extreme in either direction. Paired very well with ham. Good to try once but not something I could see getting with any consistency. The bottle was dated about 8 months old at time of purchase. I don't believe the age was a problem or changed the flavors much, if any.

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Photo of jopezu
4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

deep amber color, almost no head. bright raisin and sugar nose. taste is a lightly sour, dark "fruit juice" mixture, likely attributed to the pomegranate. if there were hops in this beer, it would taste like an american wild ale/sour beer. interesting to try, but probably will not be a regular.

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Photo of BlazinPhoenixLeopardLexy
2.59/5  rDev -30.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.5

Just not to my pallet. I found it to be sour. With such beautiful ingredients listed, I didn't feel as it did any of them justice, just a mush of flavors.

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Photo of TheCraftBrewReview
4.14/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Having long been a fan of Dogfish Head’s various eclectic offerings, I spotted this one on the shelf of my local package store a few weeks back. I was aware that the brewery had created a series of “Ancient Ales”, which focus on recipes several hundred years old. Perhaps the most widely recognizable variation so far created has been “Midas Touch”, which is somewhere between a wine and mead. This particular beer was created after the team traveled to Rome with molecular archaeologist Dr. Pat McGovern. Through analyzing drinking vessels found in 2,800-year-old Etruscan tombs, the variance was created, with the two main ingredients being two-row malted barley and heirloom Italian wheat. Curious to see if my inner Italian was satisfied with this brew? Read on!

Appearance – 87: I poured nearly half of the 750 mL bottle vigorously into a tulip glass, and was immediately struck by how fast the bubbles dissipated. There was no foam, or head to speak of in the slightest, almost as if one was pouring a wine instead. The coloring of the beer is a dark caramel.

Aroma – 93: After a sniff or two, the main notes that I was left with were the raisins and pomegranates. The beer (if you can even call it that) has a distinctly sweet smell that bordered on floral it was so pungent. Quite delightful to be honest with you, given that most of the recent reviews I’ve done have been with porters or stouts, where the malts and chocolate/coffee tones become rather “you’ve smelled one, you’ve smelled them all” after a while.

Body & Texture – 86: The beer sits in your mouth similar to a barleywine of sorts – very light and crisp. A layering sensation immediately hits your palate upon first sip, with sweet honey complimenting the heirloom wheat, followed by raisins then pomegranate juice. The aftertaste it leaves is pleasant – very sweet, but not overpowering. Very little “body” to the beverage and it drinks much closer to juice.

Taste – 85: When grading this beer I almost needed to separate my preconceived notions of what a beer tasted like versus what I was actually sampling. In terms of pure taste, it can almost be summed up as pomegranate juice with honey and alcohol – a slight sourness remains afterwards but it isn’t terribly noticeable. Dark fruits dominate the taste, and it leaves a distinctly Belgian taste to it – almost equivalent of a dubel. I’ve never had a “beer” like this before in my life, and doubt that I will do so again. Sweeter than I anticipated. Perhaps there is a reason that the Etruscans were wiped out!

Overall – 87.3 (Great): The label grabbed my attention from the start – ancient script writing in the style of my ancestors. Dogfish Head infuses their beer with almost anything that they can get their hands onto, and this particular offering is no different. The upside to the beverage is that it tastes almost akin to a juice or wine – very smooth and fruity with a distinct smell. However, the taste is lacking considering what I expected, and given the variations of ingredients that they added to the beer, perhaps eliminating one or two to have a more concise impression would be appreciated. Interesting to try and would certainly recommend sipping on it if available locally, but not something that I would ever come back to.

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Photo of Tsar_Riga
3.77/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A - Copper, clear, with a short white head, fading quickly. No lacing.

S - Spices, grain, sour. Honey. Floral notes.

T - Sour notes. Spices in the form of cinnamon, cardamom. Grains.

M - Brisk, light. Solid carbonation. A bit of drying.

O - A decent spiced beer, different than your typical brew. I picked one up on clearance, but at full price I'm unlikely to grab one again. An interesting experience nevertheless.

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Photo of rdilauro
2.24/5  rDev -40.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

I love Dogfish Head beers because they have never been afraid to branch out and do something a bit different.
I have been on a quest to taste all of their Ancient Series....
I could have passed on this one.

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Photo of Beer-Revelry
4.09/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

A - Pours a dark amber rust and orange. Formed a finger of almost instantly dissipating lightly tan head. No lacing left behind whatsoever.
S - Golden Belgian notes, banana and black pepper reign as the dominant aromas on the nose.
T - Literally tastes like a golden Belgian, a dark Belgian strong ale, a dubel, tripel and a quad all mixed together with a black peppercorn beer. Lots of dark fruits, such as cherry. On the exhale you get a strong sense of black peppercorn. Really unique.
O - An interesting, unique and one-of-a-kind beer. Never had anything like it before and probably won't again. More of an experience to be had rather than a beer to repeat buy and stay stocked up on.
V - Low value, almost 17 dollars for a single 22oz bomber.

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Photo of mchegash
3.89/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance - 4.2/5
Pours a deep orange, a bit of brown. A little bit clear. No head retention. Can see a moderately large amount of carbonation rising up at an average rate. Overall, looks deep and mysterious (well, at least the look combined with the knowledge of it as an 'ancient ale'...the point is it pulls off an ancient ale sort of look...whatever that is)

Smell - 4.5/5
Alcohol, honey, resin, grapes, spices, other fruity smell perhaps, another prominent smell which I can't quite distinguish. Overall, there was a lot going on in this boquet, I was really surprised and happy with it.

Taste - 3.6/5
Grapes, honey, somes strong spices/flavors. I have tasted spices/flavors like these before, probably in some kind of food, but don't know where/what. The spices/flavors have a distinct and strong floral/herbal/earthiness to them. Some spices that come to mind are rosemary and nutmeg, although I don't think either is in the beer. Whatever the flavors are, I could see them being in some kind of Italian food, or some kind of earthy, ethnic custine. The beer is moderately sweet, and there is a small alcohol taste. To be honest, I don't really like the flavor that much. The spices/flavors are just kind of weird, and not really something I would put on my food, much less my beer. But in the spirit of the Ancient Ale they are trying to pull off, the flavors seem to fit what I would expect from a beer from 8th century BC Italy. Not that I have any extensive knowledge of that time period, but being told that this beer was from that time/place, it seems to fit what I would expect. At the very least though, this beer if definitely interesting...that earns some points. As always, DFH pulls off another interesting Ancient Ale.

Mouthfeel - 3.5/5
The beer is medium-light in body. There is a light amount of moderate carbonation. The beer is very crisp.

Overall - 4/5
Overall, I am happy with this beer, though it has a slightly strange taste. But I love trying novel things, and loving getting to connect with history through DFH's Ancient Ale series. Overall this was a positive experience.

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Photo of nebuchadnezzer
3.88/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

What a Fustercluck...
Spices I've never tasted before and can't place. Mead/wine/cider/beer. Nutty, fruity, dusty dry, balanced bitterness from who even knows what. Tastes like A nutty Brown ale, but with some mead, un-aged wine, and dry cider to it. The mouthfeel is just the tiniest bit too syrupy for my taste. the Spices seem to just meld the nuts and fruits together over the honey base. There is supposed to be wheat in there somewhere, but good luck finding it under the rest of what's going on. The yeast would probably be interesting in something I could pick it out in, but in this is just can't tell

Are you confused? So am I.

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Photo of Offa
3.75/5  rDev 0%

This is a good, interesting beer,not great but a bit different and very enjoyable.

Amber, it has a small off-white head soon thinning to foamy ring and wisps.

Aroma is artemesia, herb, anise, honey, bubblegum.

Taste is lightly sweet, herb, honey with lively, engaging feel.

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Birra Etrusca from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
85 out of 100 based on 142 ratings.