Up next on the roster from my spring equinox sour beer night is Duchessic by Birra del Borgo. In the past decade, craft brewing has seen significant growth in Italy. Similar to the craft brewing movement in America of the 1980’s, many Italian craft breweries are still trying to find their niche and hone their brewing skills. However, one brewery I have found that is a clear notch above the competition is Birra del Borgo. This brewery produces a variety of excellent beers including several nice sours and the beer well known in the U.S. due to their collaboration with Dogfish Head of Delaware, My Antonia. Their sour saison, Duchessic, is a beer made by blending their classic style saison Duchessa with one-year old Cantillon lambic.
When pouring Duchessic, the beer produces a thick creamy head due to the high carbonation of the product. Aromas of light wheat bread, light vinegar and yogurt, as well as spicy saison phenols are present.
Upon tasting this beer, a delicate blend of sweet, tart, and dry greet the drinker. This tart saison drinks like a light version of a gueuze blended with a dry and relatively clean farmhouse ale. Very delicate all around, the sour is lightly lactic with an even lighter acetic (vinegar) presence and tastes like lemon citrus fruit yogurt. Flavors of white wine grapes, neutral oak, and a grassy low intensity Brettanomyces doughiness are present. The pilsner malt character of crackers fills in the middle of the taste and the finish is very dry with a wheat tartness.
Overall this is an awesome beer and one that I keep continually stocked in my cellar. Delicate is the keyword here… the beer tastes almost fluffy. Smooth, light, and creamy, this is an excellent example of what can be achieved through blending. The combination of a light saison with the tart first-year Cantillon lambic produces a beer that is better than either product would taste alone. Try to find this one if you can, its worth the hunt.