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Des de Moor
Best beer and travel writing award 2015, 2011 -- British Guild of Beer Writers Awards
Accredited Beer Sommelier
Writer of "Probably the best book about beer in London" - Londonist
"A necessity if you're a beer geek travelling to London town" - Beer Advocate
"A joy to read" - Roger Protz
"Very authoritative" - Tim Webb.
"One of the top beer writers in the UK" - Mark Dredge.
"A beer guru" - Popbitch.
Des de Moor

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Heineken Italia Moretti La Rossa

Heineken Italia Moretti La Rossa

Moretti La Rossa

ABV: 7.2%
Origin: Milano, Lombardia, Italy
Website: birramoretti.com

Even before the current crop of craft brewers producing weird beers in designer bottles, Italy deserved at least a footnote in any survey of world brewing. Although more famous for its wines, there has long been a market on the peninsula for beer.

In the north Italy borders on the German speaking world: some of its territory was once under Austrian influence and communities of German speakers still exist. So unsurprisingly Italian brewers tended to follow German models when brewing took off as a major industry in the 19th century.

The big names still surviving from this period are now mainly owned by multinationals, but the occasional historic speciality has been retained. One such is La Rossa, which I’ve been looking out for since reading Michael Jackson’s writings about it – a beer with the colour of a Vienna lager but the strength of a Maibock.

It originated at the Moretti brewery, founded in Udine, in the far northeast not far from what’s now the Slovenian border, in 1859. Moretti became one of Italy’s big players, establishing its soft pale lager Birra Moretti as a national brand. The brewery was bought by Interbrew (now AB InBev) in 1989, then sold on to Heineken in 1996. The Dutch company had been active in the Italian market since 1974 when it bought the Dreher brewery in Trieste, originally an offshoot of the celebrated brewery of the same name in Wien, where Vienna lager had been perfected.

The plants in Udine and Trieste are long closed, as are several others Heineken took over, and it’s difficult to say exactly where La Rossa is now brewed. Heineken’s Italian production is allocated from a corporate headquarters in Milano between four breweries in Assemini (Sardinia), Comun Nuovo (Lombardia), Massafra (Apulia) and Pollein (Valle d’Aosta).

Nonetheless La Rossa, though filtered and pasteurised, is still a pretty good beer, as I discovered when I stumbled unexpectedly on it in the fridge at the Albion pub in W14. This friendly pub is Good Beer Guide listed and a former local CAMRA pub of the year with a few well kept cask beers from Caledonian and Theakston – it happens to have a Heineken tie through the brewery’s ownership of Scottish & Newcastle. But it’s hardly a specialist beer haunt, and indeed the manager felt obliged to forewarn me about the beer’s strength before I bought it.

La Rossa’s rich reddish chestnut brown colour lives up to its name, with a thick foamy light beige head. A lightly nutty spiced toffee aroma has a very Germanic ring, with grassy noble hops and soft chocolate notes from the coloured malt.

The firm raisin and nut palate rapidly dries with notes of chocolate, minerally pencil lead and treacle toffee. The swallow is very smooth, setting up a dried fruit finish with an emerging hop bite and some roast.

Overall this is a big boned but smooth beer, spicy and complex enough to reward considered sipping, and surely one of the most interesting entrants in Heineken’s international portfolio of brands.

1 comment to Heineken Italia Moretti La Rossa

  • Stephen Allen

    I have recently been diagnosed with a yeast allergy. This is devastating as all draught beer contains yeast. I am now seeking a list of pasteurized and filtered bottled/canned beer. (Trust me, the allergy is for real). I found this page searching for Birra Moretti pasteurized. Any chance of some help with other product? Is the Birra Moretti lager pasteurized and filtered as well? I am planning atrip to Italy and do want to drink some beer in between some wines. Thank you greatly.

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