Zona Cesarini is another interesting beer from Toccalmatto brewery in Emilia-Romagna, northern Italy. Before I leave Italy, I really want to try as many as possible of Toccalmatto’s beers, as I enjoyed their B Space Invader too. They’re not consistently available on tape in Rome though I have had a few at Open Baladin and otherwise I can score bottles from my friendly neighbourhood beer shop, Gradi Plato, which currently has eight outlets around the city.
“Zona Cesarini” is apparently a football term. Reading about it now is a double challenge for me as my Italian isn’t very good and because I don’t really give un fico about football, but it refers to pulling off something remarkable to win in the very last minutes of the game. (It’s named after Renato Cesarini who played for Juventus, as well as the national squads of the land of his birth, Italy, and the land of his upbringing, Argentina.)
Quite why a “Pacific India Pale Ale” that’s made with Japanese and New Zealand hops – the site says “Pacific Gem, Sorachi Ace, etc” – and features a label of potentially dubious political correctness, is named after a football term I don’t know. All I can say is that it’s a decent drink.
I found the aroma to feature notes of hay, or even silage, and elderflower. When I asked Fran what she thought, she said “turps?” I don’t think she meant it in a negative sense as such: real turpentine, after all, is derived from tree resin, notably from pines.
Its medium head dissolved fast and the taste was fruity and sharp, tending to sour. I liked this sourness, which was grapefruity. The other fruit I got was apricot. Fran didn’t contribute any further botanical-chemical comments.
The body is medium to light, the carbonation medium. Strength-wise, it’s another heavyweight (by UK standards) at 6.6% ABV, but the use of the hops here is more subtle than in the last strong Italian craft beer I drank.
According to Evan at the Ruling Glass, the Japanese Sorachi Ace hops are “known for having a fairly intense lemony flavor/aroma, along with herbal notes, lemongrass, lemon verbena, dill, cilantro [coriander], and tea. It can also provide a slight buttery taste that some people find problematic.” While according to Beer Legends, Pacific Gem “is known for having tones of oak and woody offsets.”
I didn’t get any of that here though. Indeed, if I had, it probably would have been a bit much, muddling the experience of an otherwise balanced beer, that even manages to play down its strength with a surprising mellowness.