Article by Simonmattia Riva, Biersommelier
You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline - it helps if you have some kind of football team, or some nuclear weapons, but in the very least you need a beer.
The motto of the immortal rocker Frank Zappa can raise some questions, if applied to Italy: what does it take to say that a country has its beer? Is it enough to have a brewery in the country, owned by a national entrepreneur?
But what if we gave a stricter interpretation and said that a beer is the expression of a country only if it is made with locally produced ingredients?
In countries with a solid beer-making tradition, this is the norm. However, our great Italian craft brewers had to work in a context where the farming and processing of the ingredients needed to make beer had been virtually abandoned for almost a century.
The local sourcing of ingredients - the real strength of the farm breweries of the last decade - gives a new and deeper meaning to the concept of craftsmanship.
It shouldn’t surprise that the first beer made with 100% Italian ingredients comes from Baladin. The brewery from Piozzo has always tried to give strong local roots to its products, in an attempt to make them into a symbol and expression of Italian beer-making.
Nazionale - a name that is so simple and evocative that it almost sound inevitable - was launched in September 2011. After a few necessary adjustments in the recipe, it found its place in the fluid and multifaceted family of Belgian-inspired Blonde Ales.
This is not a random choice: this is a beer style with very open borders, rather than a strictly defined one. It is perfect to give the necessary freedom to an Italian master brewer - Teo Musso - who, like his Italian colleagues, feels restless if confined to a cage by stringent requirements.
The deepest essence of Nazionale - its recipe - is Italian. All ingredients come from national production chains:
Genuinely Italian, Nazionale evokes the Mediterranean with its aromatic character: a symphony of citrus fruit, ripe fruit and spices which fill the nostrils and the mouth.
The ideal glass to taste Nazionale is a tulip-glass, preferably Teku: the universal beer glass developed by Teo Musso and Kuaska to ensure that beers can be enjoyed with all senses.
Nazionale has a light golden color and a rather hazy appearance, as it is not filtered. The nice head is white, thick and fine.
First, the nose is invaded by notes of orange blossom honey and bread crust, followed by citrus aromas that range from orange zest to orange pulp and a vibrant touch of pink grapefruit, with a final touch of ripe citron.
After a few minutes in the glass, warmer fruity aromas are released, with a distinctive presence of ripe apricot and nectarine. This summery opulence is counterbalanced by a subtle, refreshing and vernal spicy and slightly balsamic character, with notes of thyme, fresh hop blossoms crushed in your hand, fresh coriander and mint.
After the first sips, while the temperature of the beer rises, Nazionale shows a further evolution and reveals a touch of peeled almond and a floral bouquet with scents of magnolia and chamomile flowers.
The mouth is titillated by a nice fizziness and filled by a sufficiently structured body to support the aromatic components, which echo the scents: again, orange blossom honey, orange zest, citron and nectarine come back and pave the way for an assertive bitter, herbaceous and citrusy finish with a good persistence. Hints of dry thyme, pink grapefruit and lemon zest emerge and characterize the aftersmell too.
The significant alcohol content is skillfully hidden and makes Nazionale dangerously easy to drink, while your imagination wanders off to a Mediterranean beauty kissed by the sun, or a citrus fruit vendor surrounded by the scent of the sea.