Birrificio Le Baladin Nora
I was walking through the local liquor store the other day not finding much (I had once again gone in search of Southern Tier’s Pumking but struck out) when I was walking down the import aisle. This isn’t your normal import aisle full of Heineken and Corona; it has beer from all around including the United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, Brazil (Xingu), Canada (nearly all the Unibroue you could ever want) and many other places. One country that has been historically underrepresented is Italy; usually the only Italian beers are Peroni and Moretti.
The first thing I noticed were small singles of My Antonia brewed and bottled by Birra del Borgo instead of Dogfish Head. I recently tried the Dogfish Head version, but naturally I needed to try the Italian-brewed version that’s served in the Italy pavilion. It was at this point I noticed it was surrounded by many other Italian craft beers. Many other Birra del Borgo selections were available, including Genziana and Caos, one of the beers I had in June when I dined at Via Napoli. Also available were a couple of Birrificio Le Baladin beers including Nora, currently available at Tutto Gusto in the Italy pavilion.
Birrificio Le Baladin describes this beer as an Egyptian ale. It comes in a 750 ml bottle; however, unlike the cylindrical bottles most American beers come in, this bottle is thin at the top and curves out with a large base. Yellow wax covered the top; after removing the wax I found it was corked like a wine bottle instead of a bottle cap or a large champagne-like cork. One of the key ingredients in Nora is Kamut, also known as Khorasan wheat.
Cloudy orange in color that light shines through nicely, medium-sized head. A little bit of spice in the nose and malty sweetness, fairly light scent overall. A very interesting taste; floral, spices, sweetness. It’s very balanced; different flavors emerge as the beer warms but nothing overpowers anything else. Little to no bitterness to speak of; this beer highlights the various spices and the Kamut. It reminds me just a bit of Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch. Carbonation is medium and the body is a bit on the lighter side but pleasant.
Nora’s an interesting gal. It’s not quite like any other beer I’ve tasted. Very floral, no bitterness, hardly any hop taste at all to speak of. It’s a little like drinking flowers, and that sounds bad but it’s really not. The good news is that it’s currently on tap at Tutto Gusto so you don’t have to commit to a 750ml bottle. Give it a try if you’re feeling adventurous; I’m not sure I would suggest this for beginners. On the other hand, if you’re not a big fan of hops, this ale is brewed with so few hops you really don’t taste them at all.