My travels in Italy make me long for vineyards, wine . . . and handcrafted beer. Although most people don’t think of Italy as being famous for birra, I’ve come to know better. From my very first trip, our Italian family indoctrinated me into the fine art of drinking beer in Italy. German beer that is. This was back in 1999 and according to my cousin Roberto, a good German beer from the Trentino -Alto Adige Sud-Tirol and a wine from Piemonte were what to drink.
After that I came to appreciate birra and when traveling in Italy I was always on the lookout for birrifici, Italian microbreweries that make handcrafted beer. In the States I’m always on the lookout for Italian inspired beer. So when I heard that the Round Barn Winery was offering a tasting of a beer made with espresso and chocolate at their annual Red, White and Brews Fest, I jumped at the chance to taste their Cocoa Stout .
RBW is a unique winery/distillery/brewery located in the town of Baroda where award-winning Michigan wines and microbrews can be tasted in a round barn. Very cool. I liked their Cocoa Stout so much that a sample glass resulted in buying a 6 pack. With a visual contrast of black and tan (reminiscent of Guinness) and notes of bittersweet chocolate (they use Ghirardelli), it had a luxurious yet full-bodied flavor that was very appealing. The chocolate notes and sweet finish make it a perfect after dinner beer. RBW recommends serving it as a float with vanilla ice cream. I could see using this beer to make a classic Italian affogato replacing espresso with the Cocoa Stout. Vanilla gelato “drowning” in Cocoa Stout, that would be a new world twist on a classic Italian dessert.