Brewery: Birra Peroni, Rome, Italy
|When your old college roommate doesn't do the dishes for a while, you wind up drinking beer out of wine glasses. And when you take a picture of said beer after night of drinking it, you take it on the bathroom sink.|
In my introduction to this blog I claimed that, when given the choice, I would always choose a microbrewed product over mass-produced, fizzy yellow swill. I will mostly stick to that standard, but don’t call me a hypocrite for representing Italy with the nearly ubiquitous Peroni Nastro Azzurro.
|Peroni's label: green, white, and red. I wonder why?|
You see, this is a rather expensive hobby. So, if a good friend puts an imported beer in your hand, maybe you just enjoy it and check it off your list (note: I will NOT drink a Heineken to represent the Netherlands). And so it was: on a recent trip to visit my old college roommate Steve in Boston, he claimed to be on a “major Peroni kick” after moving to the North End of the city, its oldest neighborhood and most definitely its most Italian. I had just spent almost $30 on two six packs of beer from really obscure countries (these entries coming soon!), so when he offered me a Peroni out of his fridge it was an offer I couldn’t refuse.
|When drinking beer from a wine-loving country, out of a wine glass, you must extend your pinkie finger outwards, not matter how stupid it makes you look.|
Craft brewing isn’t unknown in Italy, despite the country’s strong preference for wine. Toronado, a great beer bar just up the street from me (on 30th Street, natch), has several selections from an Italian brewery called Baladin, and they are very expensive, so they must be good. But it seems that pale lagers like Peroni dominate the Italian beer scene.
|Peroni: The PBR of Italy.|
“Nastro Azzurro,” the official name of this beer (Peroni makes several other styles, but this is the only one I’ve seen in the U.S.), means “blue ribbon” in Italian, meaning this brew has something in common with every hipster’s favorite awesomely bad beer, Pabst Blue Ribbon. Can anyone tell me if hipsters in Italy drink Peroni? On my honeymoon in Venice a couple years ago, I seldom saw Peroni available. Most restaurants only served something called Castello, and you wouldn’t even have to ask for it by name. The menu would just say “birra,” and so due birre, per favore was just about the only Italian I picked up there, along with ciao! and grazie.
|Want to learn to speak Italian? Read the bottle, and you'll already be doing better than I did in Italy.|
As far as fizzy yellow pale lagers go, this is an okay beer. It’s a bit more flavorful than Heineken, which is a bit more flavorful than Budweiser, which is a bit less flavorful than club soda. If you’re drinking more than one, I am pleased to report that each one somehow tastes better than the one before it. And when in Rome, er, Boston, the game plan is pretty much always to drink more than one. Salute!