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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Outdoor Tuscan Markets & Birra Artigianale

My happiest times are stumbling upon a small fest or outdoor market. I was lucky enough to be in Firenze during the spring Il Mercato dei Sapori e dei Mestieri at Piazza della Repubblica, food and crafts so close to the action. One weekend only, just for me. I bought cannolo made right there, candies, and chocolate snacks. I saw butchers carving off of a roasted pig. Rows of grappa, wine, and cheeses. Jars of honey, jam, and olives. Sheets of chocolate and brittle. It was a place where you go for a doughnut and end up with arancini stuffed with beef and veg. Music in the air, songs with fond memories attached. I could have just stayed here the whole trip.

With all the vendors brought to the piazza, it's no wonder there was beer. With a craft brew market emerging, it was nice to see them represented. Arribal was pulling beer right off the tap. They had some specialty bottles for sale too. I wish I had room in my suitcase for a bottle of their barrel-aged brews. On tap the simply had a rossa and a chiara (red/amber and a pale ale). No wild names, just craft beer.

Chiara is a craft beer, high fermentation, made with pure malted barley. Typical ale style, it is characterized by yellow gold color, with hints of hops, malt and fruity notes. The moderate alcohol content makes it pleasantly drinkable, ideal for any occasion.| ABV: 5%
Look and Smell: This gold/orange beer had a frothy white head. It was even a little cloudy. I could actually smell the grain and a bit of hops on this one.

Taste: This was a nice, crisp, ale. It was more flavorful than I was expecting based on the color and my experience up to this point. I could easily drink it all day...with a chunk of roasted pork.

It's a rustic beer made from a special blend of selected malts. Strong flavor, with toasted notes and sweet taste that becomes dry and slightly bitter in the final, thanks to a good hopping. The roasted malt gives it a deep red color, intense and persistent body and pearl-colored foam. | ABV: 5%
Look and Smell: This ruby-red beer had a silky head that was slightly off-white. It was pretty clear.

Taste: This was also more flavorful and less sweet than I was expecting. It was a good, well-balanced, clean beer. It was also a good, drink-all-day beer.

Between the Rossa and the Chiara, my non-lager needs were met. They didn't pack the punch of some of the beers that I've grown accustomed to, but they were well balanced and good representations of beer. They'd be beers I'd share with friends.

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