Today I'm going to cover the hoppiest beer that I tried while in Italy, Extraomnes Zest. I picked it up at a delicious, yet moderately expensive pizza place just outside the Vatican, called Pizzarium. You may be able to tell by the picture, but we ate the pizza and drank our beers on a graffittied bench just outside of a metro stop. If that isn't Roman, I don't know what is.
Zest is listed as a Belgian Ale, probably more of a Belgian Pale Ale. Personally, I don't think that this is all that accurate. First of all, it is only 5.3% ABV. This doesn't really match up well with the Belgian Pale Ale style, which are generally more in the 6-7% ABV range. This alone wouldn't really be an issue, but the beer in itself is way too hoppy for the style.
It is a hazy, medium golden color with really nice head retention. The nose was nice and hoppy, with some general citrus/fruity notes and a bit of yeast. The taste was very hoppy, but definitely has a nice maltiness to it, so the hops didn't make the beer too bitter. There is some body to the beer, but it wasn't overwhelming or too heavy. The hops gave the beer a kind of freshness that was perfect for a warm spring day in Italy.
Personally, I think that Zest is a great candidate for importing into the States. A lot of American craft beer consumers love themselves some hops. This beer can certainly stand up to that desire. It also would allow American consumers to see some of the good stuff that Italy is working on in terms of beer.
Glassware: Tulip, Goblet (not a plastic cup)
Synonym Beer: Ommegang BPA
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