Having worked for large multinational companies, Bruno decided that in 2008 after stints with the logistical division within Carlsberg amongst others he wished to pursue something creatively his own. Having broadly stated that he was influenced by some of the 1990’s British cask big hitters (such as Summer Lightning from Hopback Brewery, Black Sheep’s Best Bitter and the classic Landlord by Timothy Taylor), various styles of Belgian beers and finally the more recent explosion of American craft brewing, Bruno set about trying to make beers that had distinctive and full flavours.
Without further ado, I guess it is time to hand over to the crazy man….
One of the most easy drinking and best-selling of Toccalmatto’s range, this beer is modelled on an American style pale ale (but isn’t a US pale ale) which is a cloudy straw colour with a tight white foam. The aromas carry notes of citrus, pine and other crisp acidicity laying way into a similar flavour. ReHop has a very juicy quality to it, despite a relatively thin and light body, almost as if this was made from a cordial. The hops used are route one of where the fruit and acidity comes from; around 60% Cascade is used along with Saaz, Amarillo, Marinka and Simcoe in both cone and pellet form. The brewing of this beer is complimented by the use of American yeast and it weighs in at around 5% with a dry finish of notable length.
B Space Invader
At 6.2% this is a variation of the normal ‘Space Invader’ produced by Toccalmatto. A Black IPA with some body, the name is derived from the original use of Galaxy hops in the dry hopping of the beer. This first iteration was a collaboration beer between Bruno and Brew Wharf in London and began as a pale beer. The beer was then made using different hops, namely Simcoe and Amarillo to compliment the Galaxy and uses a wheat malt to do away with the bitterness and roast flavours of barley. The tight brown foamy head gives way to a chewy mouthfeel, some aromas of coffee, chocolate and liquorice leading into slightly juicier flavours than you would expect given the nose. The finish is reasonably long and has some interesting hits of red fruit on the way out.
This beer arrives with a nod to the song ‘21st Century Schizoid Man’ by King Crimson; Bruno’s fascination with tilting musical slants onto his brewing becomes much more obvious. Using Belgian caramel malts, this American style pale ale is very dry throughout the flavour and not just in the finish, the use of Centennial and Chinook hops gives rise to a fairly chewy number, there is plenty of body here thanks to the use of the resinous hops, but it retains a fruity and aromatic edge. This beer was based on Bruno’s experience with the ‘Kentucky Common’ style of beer, which imparts some sour edge and the use of corn and sour mashes to lighten the beer.
The biggest selling beer for Toccalmatto, the Zona Cesarini gets its name from the Argentine-Italian footballer Renato Cesarini, who famously played for Juventus. The ‘Zona Cesarini’ is an expression of the scoring a goal in the dying minutes of a match, as the player did on many an occasion. Born in 2010, this beer is a 6.6% fruit laden dry pale ale, with 90% of the hopping of this beer added in the 4 stages of dry-hopping over 5 days (at around 14g per litre). The use of US, New Zealand and West Coast Japanese hops such as Palisade, Sorachi Ace and Citra gives some interesting dimension to this beer, with the dry fruitier characters providing a good counterbalance to the bittering hops (using Colombus for the bittering). Aptly named, dry and fruity with tropical fruit which includes coconut imparted by the Sorachi Ace, this is a very competent and interesting beer.
Finally, a relative sweet beer behemoth in at 7.5%, this fruity dark brown ale is initially rather sweet, with a quite tart finish. There is plenty of orchard fruit on the heavily perfumed nose, obviously screaming out apricot, but layers underneath of other fruit such as figs. This Scotch ale has a relatively light body belying its dark colour, the flavours echo the fruity aromas, but do incorporate some red cherry in the finish. This is a relatively new beer Bruno has made, based on a beer called ‘the last witch’ which was made used peated malts, the use of fruit changed the recipe and frozen apricots are added at the dry-hopping stage to impart the raison d’etre of this beer.
MTB Attendees were also treated to some whisky from Malt of the Earth following the beer tasting, with Tom Mills from the company presenting a very pleasing number and guidance on how to taste. As is always the case with such spirits, the divisive nature shone through with many not taking to the flavours of a subtly complex whisky. It was relatively smooth and aged to 11 years, a nice way to round off a very entertaining and delicious evening.
As ever, 23 Club/Clove Hitch provided delicious food to accompany the beer menu, on this occasion the attendees were treated to a BBQ with Mediterranean food. Good pairing with the beers too. Italian beers are going from strength to strength at the moment; Toccalmatto’s excellent presentation and highly competent beers are testament to the growth.
Until the next time… Ciao!
Via San Michele Campagna 22/c
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Malt of the Earth