Archive for June 9th, 2008

Beer Review: Peroni Nastro Azzurro

9 June, 2008

SO far, my look at beers from the Latin world hasn’t exactly been a stunning success. Sol, Damm Estrella, Corona Extra and Peroni, the cousin of today’s beer, veered between average and frustratingly disappointing. Desperados was ok, but cheated by being a French parody of a Mexican Tequilla tinged beer. So it is with low expectations I move on to Peroni Nastro Azzurro.

Peroni Nastro Azzurro bottle

Exactly how different this one is to the Peroni I tried a couple of days ago, I’m looking forward to finding out. The look is utterly different. This mainstream looking green bottle is widely available from nearly every shop in the country. But green-ness and ubiquity is no guarantee of likeability. Eco-fundamentalist Tony Juniper for example.

A big wrap-around neck label is present again. But this one only has writing on the front. That’s because this bottle, unusually for a Mediterranean beer, has a back label.

Peroni Nastro Azzurro neck label

Like the Peroni of a couple of days ago, there’s nothing but Italian on the labels. This one has a neck label featuring a crest. The familiar year of 1846. And some writing saying something about this being the original beer of Italy and using natural ingredients. As is the way with non-English language labels, I need to the help of translators out there. If you can translate anything on this bottle, do please leave a message at the end of the post.

The main front label is again totally different to that other Peroni beer. The only familiar details are the 1846 year and Giovanni Peroni’s signature. Which is good to see, as it means we’re not dealing with some other company ripping-off the Peroni name. There are some banners around the top and bottom of this dull and mostly white coloured label. And those wavy banners have words such as “Tradizione”, “Naturalita” and “Superiore”. Nothing exciting there.

The back label doesn’t set the world alight either.

Peroni Nastro Azzurro front label

The main block of writing is in Italian. But that doesn’t matter. It’s good knowing that this beer is the “Itaniana numero uno”. The other words I’m not so sure about so, translators, you know what to do. My suspicion is that they say something about refreshment and Italian style. Even with my Officer Crabtree grasp of Italian, there’s little to impress.

Peroni Nastro Azzurro back label

It’s not all bad news though. The alcoholic volume in this 33cl bottle is 5.1%. That’s more than the other Peroni and more than most others from the Latin world. The ingredients are in English and they are “water, barley malt, corn and hop”. And it’s easier to see where this came from. And from whom. The brewer is S.p.A Birra Peroni. And they are from Roma. Somewhere also known as Rome. I don’t think it will catch on with the tourists.

Will Peroni Nastro Azzurro be any good? Will it be a lot like Peroni? Hopes are low, but we’ve come this far. Time to open the bottle.

The colour is a very pale yellow. And the head, which looks good at first, almost completely vanishes within a minute. Good thing I was brought up not to judge by appearances.

Peroni Nastro Azzurro poured into a glass

The smell does start to redeem it though. The blend of beer smells in the aroma is good. If generic.

And that carries over to the taste. The blend of tastes isn’t bad. It tastes of a blend of the ingredients that went into it. The malted barley, corn and hops come together to leave a taste of an indistinctive beer that has a light bitterness.

To its credit, there’s little about the taste that anyone can really complain about. It’s not very bitter at all and none of the flavours are strong enough to put anyone off. It’s also very light, refreshing and very easy to drink. It’s not at all gassy either. The quality of the ingredients is evident too.

But all that is faint praise. It’s hard to escape the fact that you feel as though you’re drinking water. The flavours are weak and unoriginal. There’s so little character, you’d be hard pressed to know if you were even drinking Peroni Nastro Azzuro if you weren’t drinking it from the bottle.

In conclusion then, Peroni Nastro Azzurro is well made, but indistinctive, weak and boring. If you end up drinking lots of this at a bar, you won’t mind much. Nor will your friends if you buy in a crate load for a party or a barbeque. But if it is taste and flavour you’re after, you’ll be disappointed.

Rating: 2.7

What can we conclude from my look at beers from the Latin world? That they are mostly bland and tasteless. Sure, they are mostly drinkable and refreshing. If you end up drinking them on a night out, you won’t complain too much. But if you’re buying for yourself, just don’t. There are so many better choices you could make. And they all originate from Northern Europe and Great Britain. Sorry North America, I haven’t tried enough of your beers to say anything yet. But I’m sure they’re not as bland as those I’ve tried over the last few days.

Recommendations? This one, Peroni Nastro Azzurro is one of the best. Damm Estrella was ok too. But that’s not saying much. Desperados was the joker in the pack, and, amazingly, the best of the bunch.

Where next? Yes, I know, there’s Brahma from Brazil and San Miguel from Spain. But I’ve tried each of those once before. They’re both lagers and they are both below average. If you want a review, simply read one of my other reviews of any below average lager. If you want a real review, leave a request in the comments and I’ll consider sacrificing an evening of my time to write one for you.

Have you tried Peroni Nastro Azzurro? Can you translate anything? What reputation does it have at home in Italy? And why when your wines are so fine do you make such rubbish beers?
If you can answer any of these questions, leave your opinions, translations, corrections, thoughts, ideas, recommendations and suggestions here.

UPDATE
SINCE posting this back in June 2008, it has gone on to become the most popular post on my blog! To celebrate, I’ve come back, in August 2009, to upgrade the photos and take another look. There must be something about Peroni Nastro-Azzurro that makes it so much more popular than the rest.

So what did I think of Peroni Nastro-Azzurro second time around? Maybe I was a tiny bit harsh first time. It is exceptionally easy to drink, especially when cold. There’s almost nothing about the taste to put you off. And it’s clean, crisp, quite refreshing and well made. That said, it’s still watery and taste is hard to find.

My new conclusion? I think it would be an outstanding curry beer, and I’ll happily enjoy a bottle or four at a trendy bar. There. If you feel slighted that someone on the Interwebs has a different opinion to your own, do please leave an impassioned comment below, highlighting the superiority of your opinion over mine.


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