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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 KickbacksSteve
4.21/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

On tap at Kickbacks in Jax. Poured into a snifter. White head, moderate retention on a clear copper body. Mostly clear lacing. Very perfumy aroma includes caramel malts, candi sugar, a Belgian-y type of yeast like aroma, some sweet fruits (undistinguishable) and maybe some alcohol...quite interesting. Taste includes again some sweet malts, some interesting spicing and again some sweet fruity like taste. The flavors are really hard to pinpoint and they certainly mix together to form a flavor that I'm quite sure has never been tasted before. Quite nice, I enjoy the aroma more than the taste but very ambitious and typical Dogfish Head awesomeness.

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Photo of mactrail
3.89/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4.25

Very attractive brew that is exactly the color of a dark Scotch single malt. Modest head but plenty of carbonation on the tongue. Herbal nose with wintergreen and a hint of Vick's VapoRub.

Somewhat sweet, but not sugary. Such a carnival of flavors it's hard to pick them out. Winey with a touch of bubble gum. A hint of muscat wine along with something mysterious, which may be the myrrh. The gentian root provides the biterness, but it's not overdone. Dark raisiny flavor with the intense aromatics. So much better than the pie spice kind of flavors in the usual horrible pumpkin and inept holiday beers.

Truly strange but quite sippable. It grows on you, and the bitterness comes to be more intriguing than the usual hops. From the 750 ml bottle bought at Whole Foods in San Francisco.

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Photo of BEERMILER12
3.84/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottled In: 2012A 02:51

A: Pours a copper color with a fingers worth of head that quickly fades to nothing

S: Decently complex. Semi-spicy, fruity, earthy, and bitter. Not unlike most DFH beers, very interesting, to say the least

T: Starts off lightly bitter, and moves into some fruity and spice notes. Darker fruits are next, mostly raisin. Continues with a light sweetness that is cut by the bitterness. Finishes clean and lightly bitter. Again, very interesting

M: Medium bodied with moderate carbonation

O: Yet another very interesting beer from DFH. Definitely has an Italian swing on things from the guys over at BdB and Baladin. Not the easiest aroma or taste to explain in review format, so I suggest going and trying some for yourself. It's unlike almost any beer I've tried, and for that reason alone, it's worth picking it up

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Photo of JAramini
4.06/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I really loved the carbonation on this one. Very fine, champagne-like.

Fruity, the pomegranate definitely comes through, didn't get any of the hazelnut flour, and I have no clue what myrhh tastes like.

Tastes mostly like a BSDA.

The Dogfish "ancient ales" tend to be one-note and unimpressive to me, but I really enjoyed this one. Usually these beers are a one-time taste/tick, but this one I would drink again.

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Photo of drabmuh
3.21/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

At the time of this review, this is #31 on the "Top Beers - Herbed / Spiced Beer" list on beeradvocate.com. A pathetic list populated with mediocre and undrinkable "beers" such as this one. Served in an Dogfish Head signature glass...it happens. Not a repeat, it was interesting at first but these "ancient" ales are all vinous and sweet without much depth or character, and at best are guesses of what the product tasted like. How about you brew the beer with the appropriate technology as well, then you may have something.

Beer is clear and reddish ruby in color, nice off white head, low retention.

Aroma is sweet, almost cherry, a little peppery.

Beer is vinous and sweet with a woody / pencil shaving aftertaste that is a pretty off putting. I won't have this again.

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Photo of HuskyinPDX
3.57/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

Bottle opened on 1.8.13

A - Pours a clear dark copper with a two inch foamy light tan head with good retention.

S - Spicy and nutty, citrus and almost minty.

T - Lots going on here, spice, nutty, fruity, then the hazelnut, then floral. Not working for me.

D - Good carbonation with a light body.

O - Not sure how I feel about this one. Ok, but I wouldn't seek it out again.

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Photo of nova009
3.93/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into my DFH signature glass

A- pours a clear reddish brown with steady stream of bubbles, a fizzy one finger white head appears and simmers down to a covering after a few minutes

S- sweet, slightly bready malt, spicy on the nose, I know this is strange but I'm getting a smell that is reminiscent of double bubble gum, cherries and red berries, a little clove as well, interesting

T- sweet like the nose but with a bit of lip smacking tartness as well, spicy rye flavor comes through and attacks the tip of the tongue, dark fruits, the pomegranate really comes through in the sip, cherries, there's a bouquet of earthy spices and herbal notes that come in toward the end, a lot tastier than I expected

M- medium-light body, solid balance of carbonation, the mixture of spice and tart tingle the palate, solid

O- I liked this overall, I think it's a bit on the sweet side but if you use it as a dessert beer it would fit nicely, would recommend, props to DFH for continuing to explore more of these ancient recipes

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Photo of BeerImmediately
3.72/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

750ml into Duvel glass.

Pours with a short head that bubbles down at record speed - like a soda. High carbonation flowing up. Body is a bright, clear orange - amber. Zero lacing.

Aromas are full of heavy malt - rye cracker. Some fruit before and after - cherry.

Mouthfeel is slightly heavy even with the high carbonation. Flavors are full of bright, red ripe fruits. Cherry skins, plums, cranberries, red grapes, cabernet, and biscuit. The finishing mouthfeel leaves a light film on the tongue, sort of reminiscent of a light Mad Elf.

This puppy has plenty of flavors going on - pretty fun, and makes for a nice holiday ale. Wouldn't mind giving it a go again next year, but no way I'm paying $18 for it again.

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Photo of Jemonster
4.54/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Amber/red/bronze/gold color with thin white head. Looks heavily carbonatated.

S: Smells like root beer. Wintergreen mint and anise are strongest, and there is a cinnamon scent. At the end there is some honey. A little bit like toasted marshmallows.

T: Sweet and spicy. Forward honey flavor and anise. It has a very faint hop flavor in the aftertaste.

M: Pretty heavily carbonated and with the gravity of something closer to a belgian tripel. The sweetness makes it seem more round and filling.

O: Pretty good and different. I would probably pick this up again if I came across it.

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Photo of DovaliHops
4.25/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a clear, reddish amber color with a medium white head that disappears quickly. Scent is different than any other beer my nose has stubbled upon. Immediately, I get the sense that this beer has wheat in it. Wheat-like aroma with dark fruits...raisins and prunes. I also get red grapes and the green apple comes through very nicely in the end of the aroma. Sweet honey with some ginger and cinnamon. I don't really pick up any pomegranate in the nose. Belgian yeast...with wine-like aromas. Taste is just as it smells, but a bit more vinous. This beer has some lovely wine characteristics with the grape flavors. Belgian yeast with tart red grapes and tart green apple flavors. There are tart flavors, but the beer is not tart overall. The raisiny dark fruit flavors mellow out the tartness. Honey flavors with a pomegranate juice-like finish. Such a complex beer. Mouthfeel is nicely carbonated and juicy at the same time. Just a little sticky. Drinkability is high, ABV is definitely there, but doesn't affect drinkability. Overall, this is a very complex, unique, tasty brew from DFH. I love BDB, so I'm sure they had a lot of influence on this one.

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Photo of Blakaeris
4.36/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours brilliantly clear bronze with a very slight head that completely disappears in about a second.

Aroma is initially dark fruit and alcohol heat. Then a wheaty complex spice quality becomes quite apparent. Musty and herbal with an underlying sweetness.

Taste is what the nose lead me to expect. Dense malt, with excellent fruit qualities – raisin, date, cherries, and apple. Very herbal with a mild honey sweetness before the surprisingly peppery yeasty spice takes over. Alcohol warmth lingers throughout. Finishes with a woody cedar dryness.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied. Slick and resinous.

Overall a complex, layered, and interesting brew. Definitely something off the beaten path and well worth a try.

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Photo of mooseo
4.3/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

1 pt 9.4oz bottle into tulip.

A - Clear rich copper-amber with a huge dense white head.

S - Sweet apple, pear, and banana. Bready with hints of honey and herbal spice.

T - A tasty mix of fresh fruit (apple, pomegranate), wheat, bready malt, and peppery spice. Finishes slightly tart with dark fruit, honey and smoked woody malt.

M - Medium bodied, smooth and slick. Crisp and refreshing, high carbonation.

O - An extremely drinkable, flavorful rendition of an Italian ancient ale. Complex and balanced. The alcohol is masked very well.

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Photo of jdhilt
4.06/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a two finger white head that vanishes leaving no lace. Crystal clear amber color. Good carbonation and medium bodied. Honey and gentian root nose. Flavor has a lot going on - at least honey, gentian root - reminds me of juniper, higher ABV is hidden. Pricey as usual for DFH at $14.00 for a 750ml bottle from Tully's Beer and Wine Wells, ME.

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Photo of atr2605
3.7/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A-pours a red amber with an off white head that fades rather quickly
S-pomegranite, rubbing alcohol,juniper
T-honey and pomegranite, spice throughout. Bit hard to decipher the flavors
M-medium-light bodied
O-Very interesting brew. Pretty unique so there isn't much to compare it to. I think the price is a bit high but definitely worth trying

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Photo of PorterLambic
3.52/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Arrives a dark copper color, clear with a white head with great retention.
Smell is medicinally sweet, malt, wood and ginger. Balance is decent.
Taste is malt, wood, pomegranate, some light dark fruits and graham cracker.
Smooth and warming, medium-full body with light effervescence. Pretty good but not memorable. Not one of DFH's better offerings.

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Photo of gabedivision
3.78/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 750ml to a pint glass

A- pours a crystal clear deep copper, with a 1 finger head that quickly dissipates, the carbonation slashes into that glass and makes a cola like fizz

S- pomegranate right up front on the nose followed by rich brown sugar, dark fruits with a yeasty medicinal like finish

T- a fizzy carbonation pop followed by a tart cherry crush, sweet dark fruits, subtle orange and honey follow, finishes with a mix of alcohol honey and pomegranate

M- light to medium in body, easy to drink, fizzy tingling carbonation, sweet with a slightly dry finish

O- very interesting ancient ale, tons of flavor, very complex, slightly medicinal and funky. Not bad, would def go for another pint.

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Photo of albertjr21
4.19/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Served in a DFH goblet, brew pours a beautiful clear burning copper under a creamy thin layer of foam. Aroma isn't shy at all and seems abundant with various hints of earthy, herbal, pungent and citrusy ingredients to the concoction...Flavors on the palate are equally as complex with notes that I can best decipher as a dominating sweet and tart blend of fruit. Fun beer for a tasting party and something different from the usual for the craft brew lover and wine snob alike...

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Photo of kylehay2004
3.9/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Initially a 3 finger head which dissipated rapidly with little lacing on a clear copper body. Aroma is dominated by pomegranate with grape, red apple and some generic spice. Flavor also has a lot of similar flavors with pomegranate again dominating with red apple and grapes also again noted. Additional notes include pine resin, honey and herbs. Medium body, fairly oily on the palate and moderate carbonation. Initially this one seemed complex but eventually it became more like a tart fruit juice. Certainly drinkable, almost too sweet. As with the other ancient ales, this one is worth a try.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.04/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a Dogfish Head pint glass. Pours a medium copper (bronze?!?) amber with a thin off-white head that dissipated quickly to a ring around the glass. Enticing aroma of honey, apple, stone fruits, root beer spices. Complex flavor that is hard to differentiate, but nice fruit, cherry, light wheat, bittering herbs, woody, both sour and sweet elements. Finishes dryer with residual sweet/sour fruit elements at the back of the tongue. Light to medium bodied, but good mouth feel from active carbonation. Definitely unusual and fun to drink. I have a suspicion that bronze age libations would actually be hard to take for modern tastes, but if they had anything like this, they were very lucky.

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Photo of jondeelee
4.12/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Birra Etrusca opens to a funky, slightly sour fruit-and-bread nose that is immediately intriguing. White and light concord grape notes are present, as well as light pineapple and cherry fruit esters, wildflower honey, and touches of raisin. Put these fruits together and you wind up with something like a cross between a Dr. Pepper, a cola, and fresh-squeezed grape juice. Joining these is a bready underbelly, with tones resembling those found in yeasty, floury artisinal breads with crusts so hard you have to break them with a hammer. Dusty wheat and light hay add further earthiness. But the sugars easily dominate the nose, which is, as a whole, very interesting, and certainly unlike almost anything else on the market. It ends up smelling more like alcoholic grape-and-mixed-fruit juice than beer, with just enough of a bready, rooty counterbalance to make it interesting.

On the tongue, the beer opens with a sweet rush of fruits and sugars, with wildflower honey, lemon-lime, raisin, grape, pomegranate and pineapple joined by hints of a Belgian-like banana and clove mixture, as well as prune juice. The fruits tend largely toward the sweet side, though the pomegranate and raisin add funky, slightly sour runnels. The beer is more spicy here than hinted at in the nose, white pepper and clove dominating and lightly searing the tongue and soft palate with paprika-like intensity (though without the paprika flavor), with additional touches of cinnamon and cardamom, adding a lovely spice mixture to the fruit that is somewhat reminiscent of mulled cider. A good bread backing—again, like hard-crust bread—adds earthiness, and the hazelnut flour seems to add a touch of nut, but just a hint. There is perhaps just the slightest mineral overtone from the bronze aging. The aftertaste is a continuation the main mouthful, lingering on the tongue in sweet-sour-funky-spicy goodness for a long time. Mouthfeel is medium-light to medium, and carbonation is medium to medium-high, almost champagne-like in strength.

Overall, this is surprisingly palatable beer, and perhaps my favorite of Dogfish Head’s Ancient Ale series. This one is very much like a Belgian in many aspects, with Flemish and Saison flavors coming through as well. I did wish for a heavier mouthfeel and much less carbonation, but the fruit-spice notes were excellent, and delicious. If this tastes anything like what the ancient Etruscans actually drank, then I certainly know where I’ll be heading once I get my time travel machine up and running.

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Photo of Oakenator
4.18/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep amber brown with a hint of ruby color. Good 1-2 finger head at pour that after relaxing remains a thin layer on top of the beer. This beer looks alive as it continues to bubble from the bottom of the glass (and retain the layer of head on top). Smell is sweet yet sour. Taste also leads down a slight sour path - unexpected - but then again the presense of the pomegranate juice and fruit help this along. Sweetness from honey present. Sweet and sour mix together from front to back.

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Photo of AdamBear
4.48/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A-copper with a nice light tan head. pretty looking.

S-amber belgian sugars and dark honey. certain foreign spices i can't quite put my finger on. strong scent, really hits the nose. fairly unique.

T-comes in with a really unique taste of creamy tart cherries and various berries. Has an odd flavor reminiscent of pachouli. It's a strong and bright flavor, that really leaves the nose aside from the odd (but appreciated) foreign aspect. Ends with a pretty good dark belgian taste along with some maple and smokiness and some tartness. I like this a lot.

M-creamy with a medium carbonation.

O-This is one of those weird Dogfish experiments that gets it right. i think every time i take a sip, i get a new flavor, and they're all flavors i enjoy and find to be a nice surprise in beer. It's just a super enjoyable and fun beer to drink. Please go out and try this and share this!

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Photo of ngeunit1
4.32/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Amber-orange with a finger of frothy slightly off-white head. Fades medium.

S - Caramel malts, honey, nuttiness, dark fruits, raisins, pomegranates, Belgian yeast esters, spices, and floral notes.

T - Caramel, honey, dark fruits, raisins, pomegranates, floral notes, Belgian yeast, spices, some resiny flavors, nuttiness, some lemon zest.

M - Medium-plus bodied, moderate carbonation. Smooth and a bit syrupy with a sweet, lightly spicy, and lightly floral finish.

D - Very bold and complex but well balanced. Lots of different and interesting flavors.

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Photo of ckollias
3.7/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Enjoyed this 750ml bottle out of a tall pint glass.

A: Pours a light amber hue with a thin, 2-finger, white head that quickly dissipates into a wispy lace leaving no trail down the slide of glass.

S: Fruity aroma and I can smell the pomegranate and juice.

T: Very sweet and fruity taste – almost juice or wine like. Raisin taste is in there and finishes on the sweet side.

M: Medium body and medium carbonation

O: Very fruity beer. It was worth a try but nothing I would grab again.

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Photo of Suds
3.8/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I love the concept of brewing ancient ales. I am inspired by the innate 'coolness' of the project and the difficulty of finding ingredients and working on the process. However, I also find it very hard to review these experimental beers, mostly because ther is little to compare them to. This beer is a coppery color...very clear, with a quickly disappearing head. Low carbonation. The smel is interesting. Fruit and spice. I didn't pick up an much honey as I expected, but ther is a graininess and a white pepper-like cent. The taste has more fruit than the smell...almost like grape juice. Thinner in body than I thought it would be. Interesting, and drinkable. It's not an everyday beer, though.

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