Think of Italy and a few things immediately come to mind: the food, the wine, the amaro. Actually, even if you limit the list to “culinary things”, how far down must you go before beer comes up? Within the last decade, however, Italian craft beer has been garnering increased attention. While the country now boasts many brewers with distinct regional styles—such as Grape Ale—few of these beers ever make it statside.
Rome brewer Birradamare came onto my radar in 2017, after a distributor brought Birradamare to Austin. This being central Texas—land of Texas Germans and the best brisket in the world—one core Birradamare brew stood out immediately: Nera, a Black Lager inspired by German Schwarzbier. I mean, the bottle explicitly tells you it pairs excellently with barbecued meats.
With Nera, the brewery takes a more adventurous approach to the standard black lager.”
Appearance and Aroma
Nera vaguely looks like a stout, though this beer pours slightly lighter than black. It’s somewhere between dark, dark, dark brown and black. “Birradamare” can clumsily be translated into “sea beer”, and Nera does have a kind of earthy aroma that vaguely conjures up afternoons at a lake house. More obviously, Nera offers a strong scent of barley and malt with touches of tart fruit. The fragrance has some oomph to it, and while that will really appeal to some beer drinkers, it may have the opposite effect on others.
Nera’s strong nose proves to be a pretty accurate foreshadowing. This black lager has an appealing bitterness, like a brown ale with the IBUs turned up a bit. You could almost mistake it for a porter, given its alchemy of tart fruit plus malt and a subtle smokiness, but this beer—at just 5.5%—doesn’t feel as thick. Nera doesn’t overpower, and the bitter bits stay around just the right amount of time to make this beer distinct and delectable.
If Peroni remains the only Italian beer that comes to mind for many, Birradamare should help expand a drinker’s horizons. With Nera, the brewery takes a more adventurous approach to the standard black lager. Luckily, you probably won’t have to be an Italian or a Texan to try it. Shortly after the beer came to the Lonestar State, Birradamare announced it would become part of the Molson Coors family. That kind of arrangement has done wonders to introduce beloved regional beers such as Georgia’s Terrapin Beer Co. or Texas’ Revolver Brewing to a larger audience, so prepare your favorite local barbecued meats accordingly.