Back at Oasi della Birra in Testaccio, with my chum Rachel and my wife Fran. Fran’s beers of choice are unfailingly porters and stouts. As the bar – disappointingly – doesn’t have any Italian beers on tap, we were drinking bottled beers. We asked for a 32 Via dei Birra Altra, a double-malted dark brown ale. They’d run out, but offered us another dark beer. This turned out to be Molo from a micro birrifficio (microbrewery) called Casa Veccia. Not one I’d heard of before. Turns out it’s in Povegliano, in Treviso province of the Veneto, inland from Venice.
Reading the info on Casa Veccia’s Facebook page, the story of the brewery seems not unlike that of several of the other Italian microbreweries I’ve been learning about. (Indeed, it’s a story that’s repeated in the microbrewery scene across the world.) Ivan Borsato, a chef and cookery teacher, says he started making beer for a laugh with three friends in April 2009 but by the end of the year he’d glimpsed an opportunity take it to a professional level. By January 2011 they were producing their first commercial beer, Dazio, an American Pale Ale, then Formenton, a wheat beer.
Borsato, meanwhile, is recognised on all the labels, which says “Micro Birrificio Casa Veccia Ivan Borsato Birraio” with birraio meaning master brewer. (And veccia meaning “vetch“, that is the Vicia genus of Fabaceae, the pea family or legumes.) In fact, I’m not really even sure what the brewery is called, as my beer guidebook simply lists it as Ivan Borsato Birraio.
The labels are also distinctive for their Matt Groening-esque cartoons. (Actually designed by Kulkuxumusu from Pamplona, Spain.) Molo’s label seems to feature some kind of exchange between salty sea dogs, swapping a fish for a bottle of beer.
Anyway. Enough pre-amble. The beer.
The most notable thing about Molo is that it’s a dark, dense 6.5% stout that contains tawny porto, that is tawny port – port that’s been aged in wooden barrels and, according to Wikipedia, imparted with a nutty flavour through gradual oxidation. Now personally, I don’t touch port, not after a work Christmas party about 20 years ago when I learned the hard way how it gives the worst hangovers. Something to do with congeners. But it certainly added a depth of flavour to the Molo, an almost rare meatiness alongside the more typical stouty flavours of well-roasted and toasted malt, slightly burnt biscuit etc. Though nothing fishy, despite the image on the label.