Birra Etrusca | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

BA SCORE
85
very good
787 Ratings
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Birra EtruscaBirra Etrusca
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Delaware, United States
dogfish.com

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

BEER STATS
Ratings:
787
Reviews:
148
Avg:
3.76
pDev:
13.56%
 
 
Wants:
39
Gots:
143
For Trade:
4
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 787 |  Reviews: 148
Photo of Sammy
3.63/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Bronze coloured body, no head. Honey smooth, raisiny. FInish is way too banana yeasty. Not super drinkable, glad it was shared out. Honey overruled the hazelnut. On the sweet side.
Thanks, Jon. Middiling mouthfeel, honey booss smoothness. Like a herbal tea with carbonation.

 274 characters

Photo of Texasfan549
3.75/5  rDev -0.3%

Photo of GRG1313
3.75/5  rDev -0.3%

Photo of kylehay2004
3.9/5  rDev +3.7%
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.

 596 characters

Photo of jaydoc
3.53/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Photo of spycow
3.75/5  rDev -0.3%

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.62/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

On tap at Story Tavern in Burbank, CA.

Pours a hazy honey orange with a foamy off-white head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace slowly drip into the remaining beer on the drink down. Smell is of malt, grain, fruit, spice, and herb aromas. Taste is much the same with slightly sour fruit and herbal flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of spice bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer with some interesting aromas and flavors.

 600 characters

Photo of djrn2
3.5/5  rDev -6.9%

Photo of StonedTrippin
3.82/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

ill always like these archeological beers for what they are, but this one was a little strange. apparently predating wine in italy, this beer is a mishmosh of spices and heritage grains that come together in a very unique brew. the pour is fairly clear copper color, maybe a slight redish or purpley tint, with an inch of fading tan foam. the nose is tart, almost sour for a second, with lots of fruit and booze. almost winelike, sort of grapey and tannic. the flavor is also a little fruity. some radically unfamilar malts are in here, not sure what they are, but they are totally new to me. the alcohol is also not covered up to well, and is quite lethal when warm. a funny sort of aftertaste, moderately spiced, but that isnt whats throwing me off. a really hard beer to explain meaningfully because it is one of a kind in so many ways. more fruity than hoppy though, and largely unexplained or accounted for. still, nice medium body and a little flat on the carbonation. glad i dropped the scratch for this beer, as dogfish head always offers something worthwhile, but i have little desire to try this again.

 1,112 characters

Photo of kjkinsey
3.75/5  rDev -0.3%

Photo of Knapp85
3.36/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This poured out as a clear looking brownish copper color (Bronze). The beer his a fizzy white head on top that leaves a moderate amount of lacing and some scattered retention on top. The sample I was given at the brewery was mis-labeled. We were told it was this beer but it was actually Theobroma. While at the Brewpub I ordered it again just to make sure and I was right that the guys giving the tour had the list mixed up. So anyway, the beer gives off some spicy herbal notes on the nose along with some sweetness from the honey and malt. The taste of the beer has an interesting mix of flavors ranging from moderate sweet herbal notes to some dry spices in the finish. The mouthfeel was pretty typical for what DfH puts out, it's lighter bodied and drinkable with a subtle carbonation to it. Overall it's a pretty good brew, not my favorite of the Ancient Ales but still not bad.

 884 characters

Photo of nmann08
3.75/5  rDev -0.3%

Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
3/5  rDev -20.2%

Photo of metter98
3.81/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: The beer is relatively clear light amber in color and has a light amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a quarter finger high off white head that died down, leaving some wispy lacing on the surface and a collar around the edge of the glass.
S: Light aromas of Middle Eastern spices are present in the nose along with some hints of pomegranates.
T: The taste is similar to the smell but seems to be more complex and has additional notes of myrrh and slight hints of honey. The spices aren't as strong as they are in the smell, but seem to be most prominent in the finish.
M: It feels light- to medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: I found this beer to be rather easy to drink and had a good balance among all of the different ingredients as neither of them seemed to be overpowering. This beer could pair well with food but is also interesting enough to drink on its own.

 917 characters

Photo of oriolesfan4
4.25/5  rDev +13%

Photo of BEERchitect
4.11/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dogfish Heads' curriosity has gotten the best of them again. With all the can't-help-themselves attitude, they find creative juices in Italy. Resurrecting ancient ale flavor with the help of Del Borgo an Baladin breweries, a very wine-freindly taste emerges from the ashes.

Bright gold in color, the beer shares tawny copper highlights with peps of amber in its body. A slim stark-white foam tops the beer and reluctantly endures half the session before sucumbing to the honey and herbs underneath.

Highly floral aromas seem vibrant with a bouquet that spans rose pedals, honeysuckle, perfume, fruity, and herbal. Backed with a supple sweet note of honey and grape, the beer takes on mead-like proportions- at least to the nose.

Honey sweetness falls on the mouth with a thin fruity/floral interplay. As the sweetness fades, the fruit and potpourri note remain, reigning in periphreal notes of pepper spice, oak, wine must, and grapes. Rye-like flavors add a peppery earthen zip that evokes impressions of oak-aged chardonnay and sweet riesling. The beer's overall appealing taste is as much of wine as it is of beer.

Medium-light on the palate, the beer is big on flavor but is rather well attenuated, allowing its early creaminess and honey weight to exit early, favoring a florl, spicy finish. Wood-like tannins give the beer as much balance as hops or alcohol.

Etrusca reminds me of Midas' Touch, but with more complex dryness, herbal, mead-like touches. Its heavy wine tilt creates a lot of allure, but also becomes challenging to the taste buds.

 1,556 characters

Photo of SocalKicks
4/5  rDev +6.4%

Photo of brentk56
3.29/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

Appearance: Pours a clear amber color capped by an impressive head of foam that leaves some dots and dashes behind

Smell: Beyond anything in the beer world that I have smelled before, this beer has some spices (the myrrh and gentian root, perhaps) that give it the smell of a Middle Eastern spice shop; the raisin and pomegranate are recognizable enough and there is a clear honey tone

Taste: Perhaps this would be a taste treat for the ancients, but I am glad to be living in the 21st century as the sweetness, the weird spices and the fruit flavors create a bizarre opening and it moves in a phenolic band-aid direction from which I cannot escape

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Overall: Another interesting experiment but a failure to my palate

 768 characters

Photo of Phyl21ca
3/5  rDev -20.2%

Draft: Poured a light amber color ale with a medium size foamy head with OK retention and minimal lacing. Aroma of hazelnut and unrefined grain is more or less interesting. Taste is also dominated by unrefined grain with some strong notes of hazelnut with some residual sugars which is probably derived of the honey that was added to this beer. Body is light with medium carbonation and with no apparent alcohol. I appreciate all the historical research that went into this beer but not sure I really enjoy the final product enough to try this one again.

 556 characters

Photo of largadeer
2/5  rDev -46.8%

Photo of WillieThreebiers
3.5/5  rDev -6.9%

Photo of zestar
3.5/5  rDev -6.9%

Photo of superspak
4.1/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle into signature tulip glass, bottled in late 2012. Pours slightly hazy orange copper color with a 1 finger foamy light khaki head with poor retention, that reduces to a thin lace cap. Minimal glass lacing and a ton of streaming carbonation that keeps the lace cap going. Aromas of apple, pear, raisin, banana, pomegranate, pepper, clove, bubblegum, honey, candi sugar, wheat, bread, floral, herbal, and earthy yeast spiciness. Damn nice aromas with great balance and complexity of fruitiness with malt and spicy yeast esters. Taste of apple, pear, raisin, banana, pomegranate, pepper, clove, bubblegum, wheat, bread, honey, candi sugar, floral, herbal, and yeast earthiness. Lingering notes of light and dark fruits, clove, pepper, bubblegum, honey, floral, herbal, wheat, and earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Very nice balance and complexity of fruity flavors with malt and yeast esters; with zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium-high carbonation and medium-full bodied; with a slick, lightly syrupy, and moderately crisp mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with nearly zero warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is an excellent excellent ancient ale collaboration. All around nice balance and complexity of malt, fruitiness, and spicy ester flavors; and very smooth to sip on. Really enjoyed this one, as expected.

 1,371 characters

Photo of nickfl
4/5  rDev +6.4%

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

Birra Etrusca by Dogfish Head in collaboration with Birra del Borgo and Baladin
25.4 oz. bottle, no apparent freshness date

The first thing this beer reminded me of was how much I miss the TV show "Brew Masters" on the Discovery Channel. Damn you, A-B!!!

Imagine this episode: Sam and Dr. Pat meet in Milton (scenes of fermentation vessels), and the Museum of Archeology at Penn (pan across an Egyptian sarcophagus) to discuss their next beer adventure. Dr. Pat grabs his Indiana Jones hat and whip, and they hop a plane to Italy (plane takes off / lands). After a few scenes of their silhouettes as they climb the hills of Tuscany, they start to dig in front of some ruins and find some broken clay pots. They meet up with the boys from Baladin and Borgo, have a few laughs and talk about beer, and then settle down to a huge Italian dinner made by a 104 year old mother who doesn't speak any English (cue pictures of Sam dancing with her at the end of the night, and some of the guests looking a little loopy from too much beer). Return to the U.S., talk about the historic significance of myrrh, brew the beer, show more tanks and bottling - and it's a wrap!

On to the beer... it's bronze in color with a reddish cast beneath a full head of fluffy white. The aroma expresses sweetish, dark caramel accented malt with an undercurrent of spice and a waft of earthiness. It's not bold, but neither is it bland, and the flavor goes the same way - you might expect it to be over-done, but it's actually a very accessible beer. The list of ingredients is as follows: honey, hazelnut flour, heirloom wheat, myrrh, gentian root, raisins, pomegranate juice, and pomegranates (why pomegranates are listed twice I don't know but I'm guessing it has to do with labeling guidelines). The honey is certainly clear, it almost comes through more than the malt. And the raisins are easy to find as well. Right there you've got a pretty good beer as it is, but then you also get a note of the pomegranate in the finish which lends it a light touch of complexity. What about the other ingredients? Well they're there, I just don't recognize them, and I'm guessing neither will you. It's not like we're adding gentian root to our salads, or dusting our morning omelets with myrrh. Both are bitter substances, and given the lack of hop aromas or flavors, I'm guessing that these were what was used to balance the beer in ancient times.

So how to rate this beer? It can only be done hedonistically as it doesn't follow any known style guidelines? Forgetting price, or any other side-factor or variable, and focusing simply on the beer itself, would you drink it again? And how much would you want to drink it again?

Interestingly enough, in the world of beer, wine, and liquor there's not much that reminds me of this as much as Dogfish Head's "Midas Touch" (which is, of course, the first beer that they did with Dr. Pat). There may be some beers that come close, and perhaps there's a bit of a dry red wine to it, but nothing springs to mind. And I liked the "Midas Touch", but I think I like "Birra Etrusca" better. It's lighter in body, less sweet, and softer in character. The alcohol is not as apparent, and overall, it's a much more rounded and polished beer. I thought it looked good, it smelled good, it tasted good, and it was nice in the mouth with the body of a rich wine. I'd very much like to enjoy it again. And I also think it would be a very interesting beer to pair against food.

 3,485 characters

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Birra Etrusca from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
3.76 out of 5 based on 787 ratings.
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