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The Beer Friends write, review, and discuss Craft Beer as fans instead of experts.  They share their unique voice and affinity for craft beer through multiple platforms and offer a range of media to join their craft beer conversation.

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Live(ish) Blog : Collesi from Italy

Phil Foleen

Hello Beer Friends Nation! Tonight we have been invited by Adam Levy from NYISC (Thanks Adam!) to a tasting of Italian Colessi Brewery's first venture into the American beer market. Giuseppe Collesi is the owner and was on hand to answer a few questions. Here's my impressions, Graham's will be soon to follow. Enjoy! Phil's First - Chiara - nice and light, very clear. A definitely hint of Belgian beer on the end, but being a very light hint I actually hunk it's ok. Hey I drank the whole glass so it's gotta be good.

Graham's First - Chiara - Chiara - The Chiara is super refreshing. The light shines nicely through this one with a slight yellow haze to it. It drinks super-refreshing with a bready fruitiness. Slight Belgian twang that leaves as soon as it shows up. This brew is great for any hot day, but it packs enough reserved flavor to keep the drinker interested in coming back for more.

Phil's Second - Bionda- definitely fruity, much fruitier than the first. The fruit comes through as a good apple flavor, like the good part of a cider. The finish is a nice bready flavor, not yeasty, and meshes well with the fruit flavor, basically giving you an apple pie in a beer, an Italian apple pie.

Graham's Second - Bionda - First glance makes you think of a sunset - a golden, yellow haze, the color of the sky over a grassy, brown Italian hillside. Breadier and slighty heavier mouthfeel than the Chiara and filled with flavor that doesn't take away its refreshing nature. Perfect for any hot day.

Phil's Third - Ambrata - another winner. These guys definitely have a handle on their descriptions, dried fruit was called out in the notes and dried fruit you will get. This ones the closest to a standard beer taste so far. The amber part definitely shows its face here, but is balanced by the sweet fruit taste in a very pleasant way. 3 for 3 so far.

Graham's Third - Ambrata - A bit darker this time - now an orange haze. What really stands out in this one are the more present flavors bread and dried fruit, plum or fig almost. But definitely dried not fresh fruit. Phil called it pungent - but in a reserved way. I agree with him. And on top of everything it's slightly floral and spicy, way in the back of the tongue. What a great well rounded beer. This one calls for cool nights on the water, around a fire perhaps.

Phil's Fourth - Rossa - A red ale with a lot going on. The nose(a wine term, but y'know) is very sweet with a bit of spice at the end, kind of like a mulled wine at Christmas. The taste, however, is anything but: the description says caramel malt, hazelnuts, fruits and a persistent finish. I'm with hem for everything but the hazelnuts. This one's a bit more of a combined taste than the others, definitely caramel malta, they kinda take the stage at the front, but followed quickly by the sweetness from the fruits. The finish is persistent, with a bit of a sticky mouthfeel, not unpleasant, just there to remind you what you just drank.

Graham's Fourth - Rossa - A commanding rusty color that doesn't let through even a glimmer of light. The Rossa contains so many subtle hints that you will be happily challenged to find them all: caramel, malt, hazelnuts, hop spice and dried fruit. it is full bodied, well rounded and bold. And just when you think the rush from the last sip is over you are revisited with a spicy effervescence that reminds you that this beer is not only flavorful, but it's also refreshing. It's a brew of many hats.

Phil's Fifth - Nera - it always surprises me when we have dark beers from other countries. This beer is good, by any means, but we as Americans are set up to be disappointed by our own selection of stouts. This one is darker than the rest, with a slightly Burt taste that you really have to search for because it's almost overpowered by the sweetness again. Not that it's a bad thing at all, just not what I was expecting. It's a little subdued and subtle with a lighter mouthfeel than you would think. Still a great beer, more like a dinner stout, one you could actually drink with pod and still taste what you re eating.

Graham's Fifth - Nera - An Italian take on a stout provides a unique perspective on the dark kings of the beer world. This stout is very light and easily drinkable with a much more present level of carbonation than I'm used to. The color is straight brown instead of a daunting blackness, more like chocolate than night. The flavor is the same - light, complex and very subtle. Fruits, breads and slight caramel sweetness. Not much roasted malt/coffee flavor, at least not as much as what's in our spoiled American punch-you-in-the-face stouts but I'm starting to enjoy this reserved Italian approach to beer.

Phil's Sixth- Triplo Malto alright, I will admit I was predisposed to hate this one, because lets face it, when have I ever met a triple that I liked? But to be honest, this was the least triple-ish triple I've ever had. To my liking. It's definitely got its share of fruit and yeasty taste to it and it almost put me over the edge, but at the last. Minute the taste mellows out and it's just a sweet beer with a lot of Belgian overtones. Palpable, coming from me that's high praise.

Graham's Sixth - Triplo Malto - The brew triples the amount of malt traditionally used and all that extra sugar provides the yeast with that needed kick to build you a big-time ABV beer. Not that you'd know it when you drank it - the artisinal care that goes into making this beer would never let on to it's strength. It's got an incredible amount of fruit - from tropical to plum paired with the breadiness that seems to be consistent with Parale craft beer. The added carbonation gives it a mouthfeel that, along with the fruit, breadiness and color, could easily trick one into having several of these big studs. But then again, maybe that's not such a bad thing.

Phil's Choice - Ambrata - this is my fav. Not just because I love apple pie. Overall this is the best balanced and complete flavor profile. Not too heavy on the sweetness and not overly bready it's an overall pleaser with no downsides. Seek it out and check out what Italy has to offer.

Graham's Choice At the end of the night we were filled with great beer and great snacks after some serious beer conversation with some of NYC's brightest beer writers and one of Italy's premier craft brewers. The event definitely changed my perspective on Italian craft beer - from hearing only rumors of it's existence to developing a serious respect for its existence. My favorite brew of the night ended up being a tie between the Ambrata or the Rossa. You could easily put one of these pours down during any season, but I think the Ambrata would go the best in a late August transition into fall and the Rossa would be great for anything after October and before Valentine's Day, a great brew from the holiday. One thing that stood out about all the beers is their reserved nature when it comes to flavor and an increased level of carbonation that makes any of them refreshing. Hunting for the flavors proved to be an exciting game that we both looked forward to playing with each new brew. We at the Beer Friends very much look forward towards seeing these brews more often in NYC and hope that more high quality Italian brewers jump across the pond and join the ever growing craft beer party here in America.

Thanks again to Adam at NYISC and Collesi Brewery for a great event. We look forward to seeing more of your beer here and more beer in general from Italy!