Can Italians do beer?
There’s a relatively new beer out of Italy that might start getting a bit of attention in the US market. Italians spend most of their time and effort perfecting, and drinking, another type of alcoholic beverage, and they’ve become more than proficient at that. But Castello is a pale lager that started in the old Moretti factory line after that was taken over by Heineken in 1997. So they haven’t been at it long. Do they know what they’re doing, or should they just stick to the chiante?
Well, Castello is an innocuous little beer that might fit the palate for American beer drinkers. They are only just beginning to break into the market on these shores, but it’s turning up more and more on grocery shelves and Italian eateries. It is a pure Italian beer, which the more famous Moretti and Peroni no longer are, both being owned by huge foreign breweries now.
But, is a pure Italian beer any good? Well, Italians drink beer as a thirst quencher. Plain and simple. That’s what they want out of their beer, not complicated and complex tastes to mull over. Castello is brewed in Sangiorgio di Nogaro in Udine which is in northern Italy at the foot of the Alps, and they’ve taken a couple hints from their Austrian neighbors, but this beer is a simple one. Just like many Americans appreciate.
It pours a nice dark gold, with a fair head, but that quickly slinks away. The aroma is sweet and spicy and it lingers. Initially, showing off more of the traits of a German beer than a standard Italian one. But, with the first taste its true bloodline is revealed.
Castello is a very typical, easy drinking, malty lager. Somehow packing 5% alcohol on to its medium body. It’s a refreshing beer. A little too soft, maybe, with just a light and dry finish. It sacrifices the nice bitter bite at the end to stay as smooth as possible.
It’s not a bad beer to sit down with after a long hot day. It would go just fine with any Italian food, when you just don’t feel like wine. If you’re planning on swilling several at a cookout, this is another of those thinnish European lagers that’ll fit the bill. A slight improvement on most of the cheaper American versions, but it does come in the dreaded green bottle. You’ll encounter the usual twang of skunkiness, but that doesn’t hamper this beer much.
Castello is not one of those pretentious imports, and is not trying to be. This is only something to slake your thirst or wash down some garlicky sauce, when just water or wine won’t do. It’s moderately priced. It won’t be the best beer you’ve ever had. Don’t sit down with it looking to delight in its complexity and nuance. There is none. But it’s a nice beer to knock back when you’re just thirsty. If you’re thirsting for something special, there are better options out there.