Archive for September 19th, 2008

Beer Review: Castello Premium

19 September, 2008

WHAT can you say about Italian beer? Peroni was a triumph of style over taste and Peroni Nastro Azzurro was boring. It’s difficult to raise expectations then, with this little green bottle of Castello Premium.

It has a neck label. But it says nothing about what the beer will be like. It looks nice enough, but you get the impression that they’re more concerned with brand building than anything else.

It’s much the same with the front label.

Castello Premium front label

To be fair, the colour scheme is good. The big shield and castle illustration give it a good South-European look. And the banner across the top saying “Birra Fruilana” is delightfully baffling. “Birra” must mean “beer”, but can someone translate the other word please? Sadly, the label says nothing about what this beer is actually like.

Being almost entirely in Italian, I couldn’t learn much more from the back label either. Italian translators, if you’ve got a bottle nearby, do please leave your translations in the comments at the end of the post.

Castello Premium back label

The only words I could make out from the Italian language description mentions quality ingredients. My guess would be that the rest of it was equally vague and marketing led.

Under that, in a dense, multi-lingual block of text, is the name of the brewer. Castello Premium is courtesy of Birra Castello S.P.A.. Not being familiar with Italian geography or addresses, I couldn’t make much sense of the address. So I did Googled the names it mentioned for some answers. Apparently, it comes from a street called Enrico Fermi (after the famous scientist), in the municipality of San Giorgio Di Nogaro in the province of Udine in the North-Eastern province of Fruili-Venezia Guilia. Is there any connection between that name as the “Fruilana” on the front of the bottle? And would the hot Italian girl called Guilia I met last year happen to come from the province of Fuili-Venezia Guilia? Answers at the bottom of the post please.

Next up is the list of ingredients. The ones this one mentions are water, barley malt, maize and hops. Few surprises there. Although maize doesn’t always get a mention. Do most beers and lagers have it but fail to mention it? Or is this one a tiny be special for having it as an ingredient? At times like this, I wish I knew more about beer. Shame I’m too lazy to look it up.

The next little detail is the web address. The one they have printed on the label is www.birracastello.it. You’ll probably want their English language website, which is at http://www.birracastello.com/. Parts of it feel rather unfinished and navigation is a pain. This goes into the list of not-so-great brewer websites. Which by now, is very long indeed.

Last two details on the back label are the most important. Which is why they’re also printed in the biggest typeface. The bottle is the ubiquitous 33 centilitre size. Whilst the alcoholic volume surprises no-one by being equally unimaginative at 5%. I’ve got a feeling this is going to be as average as the summer we just had.

What will it taste like? Will it be better than the two Peronis? Let’s find out.

Castello Premium is very easy to pour as it has almost no head. Then, after a moment, the tiny layer it does have almost completely vanishes. I’ve seen ciders with more head on them. The colour is respectable shade of amber. And there is a lot of fizz going on in there.

Does it have a smell? Yes, just about. It smells of a lagery blend of malted barley and the usual beer ingredients. It’s quite weak and smells much the same as the bland, big-name lagers.

What does it taste like? A couple of gulps in, and it tastes like any other competent lager. There is no flavour. That void is then filled by a light, bitter aftertaste. That lagery “bite” isn’t excessively rough. Nor does it roll it strongly or unpleasantly. It just gets on with its job of delivering a zingy “bite” in a light, mild way.

What is there to enjoy about Castello Premium? Again, it depends if you like lagers. If you do, you’ll appreciate the light and drinkable aftertaste. You’ll like the way that you don’t have to think about complex flavours. Even if you don’t particularly like lager, you might like how easy to drink that aftertaste is.

As you’ve probably guessed, Castello Premium won’t be for everyone. People who don’t like lager for instance. There’s no flavour. All you get is a run of the mill lagery bitter aftertaste. It might be a tolerable aftertaste, but you won’t be inspired to buy a case of the stuff. Even if you think it’s quite good, it’s not far removed from equally or cheaper priced and easier to buy rivals.

Castello Premium is a middle of the road lager. As average as you can get. It doesn’t offend. But it won’t inspire you. If I was visiting the region this came from, I’d be more than happy to drink Castello and its sister brews. Although it’s not exactly better than the two Peronis. If you don’t have a thing for Italian beers or European lagers, then look for something better.

Rating: 2.2

Have you tried Castello Premium? What did you think of it? Can you offer up any translations?

Leave your corrections, translations, opinions, thoughts, recommendations and requests here please.


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