Birra Etrusca | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

very good
787 Ratings
no score
Send samples
Birra EtruscaBirra Etrusca

Brewed by:
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Delaware, United States

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

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 148 | Ratings: 787
Photo of mikeinportc
4.06/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a slightly hazy , (slightly) reddish-purplish orange-amber. Maybe if a touch of pomegranate juice were added to cider? Light , off-white head.

Smells like a V. labrusca-based wine ('Concord',etc.) , plus a slight yeastiness. As it warms, a boozy, brandy-like aroma emerges, like a Belgian tripel.

At first, the flavor is like a very dry, slightly (hop) bitter, grape soda, with very fine carbonation. As it warms some honey, spice, floral, and nut flavors come out, and it becomes less dry and crisp.

Overall, a good one. I wouldn't want it often, but it hit the spot today. I'd have it again, and would recommend it as worth a try.

 649 characters

Photo of Lucular
3.75/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Tastes pretty good for what it is. None of the individual components overwhelms the others. I have to wonder though, most of DFH's ancient ales are fairly high ABV - did all beer used to be this boozy?

 201 characters

Photo of patre_tim
4.19/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Copper with no sediment on the first pour. Only fine, fine, fine, bubbled carbonation, and a half finger of bright yellow tinged head.

First thought is, its a Belgian triple based on the nose. Smells of phenols, and what I think of as Belgian yeasts, its fruity, like apples, alcohol and a hint of creme brûlée.

Sweet and way more complex than I expected. Tastes like layers of flowers and fruits, it could be a perfume based on the taste. I get apples, and grenadine syrup (yes, the pomegranate) a fair amount of sweetness considering I've had this bottle for over a year. Flowers, molasses, and its like concentrated pomegranate syrup is present. The floral aspects might be a residue of the honey.

Medium, slightly weighty body with moderate, almost low carbonation. Very smooth, alcohol only detected in the throat.

My wife got this at Bruisin Ales in Asheville, NC in August 2015. Drank in Chiangmai, Thailand, Sept 6th, 2016. Really standing up with time. Well worth a try, no disappointments here. Unique, and tastes good, and having a historical background is a huge bonus.

 1,099 characters

Photo of 0_0
3.41/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 2.75

L - Decent Head dark amber in color
S - Sour, slight fruit notes
T - Sour, bitter, grapes and only the tiniest hint of the bottle - mentioned pom.
F- I;m high right now, what does it matter how i feel?
O - The ancient ale is interesting, but really its story is more build up than its actual delivery.

 301 characters

Photo of dacrza1
4.21/5  rDev +12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

DATE: July 28, 2016... OCCASION: watching our wedding videos (thanks for sending the VCR, Jer!) while celebrating fifteen blessed years of marriage with Shana... GLASSWARE: Affligem goblet.... a dark copper, almost brownish opaque body challenges daylight... the off-white fizzles to a pencil-thin ring, while small clouds circle inside... apple, sour apple, grapefruit, vanilla, honey, grapes, and saltiness--safe to say, I haven't smelled something like this before, although the aroma loosely approximates freshly unwrapped cassette tapes from the eighties... in summation, quite a cornucopia to process... upon first sip, surprisingly active in the mouth... medium-bodied, warming, and dry, with the honeyed finish that provides depth and length to the taste... demonstrative apple, honey and citrus and sour mash... ginger, raisins, dry nuts, and phenol hints develop a complex, almost unworldly profile, one that encourages sip upon sip... a beer worthy of the our milestone anniversary, I cannot help but think this beer is challenging in all the right ways, stirring fruit, spice and lesser elements to develop a taste akin to a Belgian ale but with drastically different draw and depth.. manageable at its 8.5% but formidable as well, with its spiciness erupting with every sip... on sale at A&P Liquors? yes, please...

 1,328 characters

Photo of colts9016
3.93/5  rDev +4.5%
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.

 1,172 characters

Photo of sjdevel
4.12/5  rDev +9.6%
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!!!!!

 1,490 characters

Photo of Zythophile
4.1/5  rDev +9%
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.

 673 characters

Photo of maddogruss
3.63/5  rDev -3.5%
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!

 454 characters

Photo of Wasatch
4.12/5  rDev +9.6%
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.

 491 characters

Photo of Sabtos
2.57/5  rDev -31.6%
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.

 299 characters

Photo of Gajo74
4.02/5  rDev +6.9%
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.

 365 characters

Photo of qcghost
4.02/5  rDev +6.9%
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.

 280 characters

Photo of mandy_mic700
4.1/5  rDev +9%
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.

 246 characters

Photo of hophugger
3.39/5  rDev -9.8%
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..

 258 characters

Photo of StJamesGate
3.81/5  rDev +1.3%
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

 409 characters

Photo of jngrizzaffi
3.51/5  rDev -6.6%
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.

 439 characters

Photo of IckyT2012
4.22/5  rDev +12.2%
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.

 154 characters

Photo of EMV
4.17/5  rDev +10.9%
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.

 619 characters

Photo of Moneypenny
3.64/5  rDev -3.2%
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.

 854 characters

Photo of NCMatt
4.15/5  rDev +10.4%
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.

 312 characters

Photo of jopezu
4/5  rDev +6.4%
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.

 299 characters

Photo of BlazinPhoenixLeopardLexy
2.59/5  rDev -31.1%
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.

 154 characters

Photo of TheCraftBrewReview
4.14/5  rDev +10.1%
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.

 3,336 characters

Photo of Tsar_Riga
3.77/5  rDev +0.3%
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.

 429 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Birra Etrusca from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
3.76 out of 5 based on 787 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.