Beer Review 0119: Birra del Borgo 25dodici

This is one of those beers that I have no idea about going into it. I saw this beer, 25dodici, sitting on the shelf of my local bottle shop for several weeks late last year. The bottle intrigued me, but the price tag did not — this is a $9.99 bottle of beer, and it’s only 12.7 ounces. So I balked, and didn’t buy it.

Christmas came and went, and soon afterwards, I saw it sitting on the shelf with a $5.00 coupon, so I bit. Turns out, this is a Christmas ale — so I’m drinking this a little late — brewed with bitter orange peel.

Produced by Birra del Borgo in Italy, this company started up with Leonardo Di Vincenzo homebrewing for fun whilst studying biochemisty in University. And like most of these beer stories, the passion turned serious and production quickly ramped up. One of the initial goals of Birra del Borgo was to find new meaning to the traditional pizza and beer pairing, and even going beyond just pizza with other simple, well-prepared dishes.

In more recent times, this brewery has done a collaboration with Dogfish Head here in the United States. I have only ever seen their 25dodici around my area, but they are like most American craft breweries with a regular lineup and seasonal offerings. Hopefully, more of their beers will make it over here, and hopefully this beer is a good one. Cheers.

Pouring this one — first off, the bottle had a weird cap that had a loop of plastic hanging down from it, which I don’t know what that was about — produced an average size head, creamy in texture and quickly diminishing. The beer was reddish-brown and extremely muddy; this one had very thick chunks of sediment floating throughout. No lacing was left behind as I sipped.

When I first opened the bottle, something hit me, and in a bad way. The aroma. My kitchen was filled with the stench of permanent marker, and I could barely stick my nose to the bottle and sniff. Pouring into a glass seemed to mostly quell the bad stench; this beer has very (read, extremely) faint aromas of pine, and an orange yeast funk typical of some Belgian beers. The biggest aroma note was the caramel malt, which was sweet, and there were hints of dark fruits, maybe figs. But, I have to be honest; the residual smell of permanent ink pen really spoiled this for me. Even after pouring into a glass, I could still catch whiffs of it, and I swear it was coming from the empty bottle. Either way, this isn’t a very aromatic beer, pleasant or not.

The flavors, like what was good in the aroma, are quite subtle — up front, there’s some sweet orange funk, which slowly turns bitter before meeting some cinnamon-like spice. There’s a large caramel flavor in the middle, and the finish is sweet, hinting almost at mandarin orange, along with some alcohol warmth (this one comes in at 9.5% ABV, or alcohol by volume.) The body was light, but the mouthfeel was creamy and completely coated the mouth.

Honestly, 25dodici isn’t that bad of a beer, but a lack of any real bright or bold flavors coupled with that permanent marker aroma kind of ruin it for me. Given the high price tag on this brew, I would probably avoid it. There’s other winter warmer style beers out there that are much better, and I sincerely hope my first trial with a Birra del Borgo drink is an exception to the rule.

Birra del Borgo 25dodici, 70 points. Price: $5.99 US (with coupon) for one 12.7 ounce bottle.

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