Italian Craft Beers Challenge Wine
Beer and Italy. Beer and Italy. Beer and Italy. Keep repeating as you drift off to sleep. But make no mistake that this pair is not fantasy. And I’m not talking about Peroni or Moretti either. I’m talking about Craft Italian Beers! While wine remains a dominant beverage choice, beer is gaining some momentum for sure.
My personal introduction to Italian beers happened a few years ago during a tasting at Coffee District in Delray Beach. Yeah, go figure. Nothing makes me think Italy quite like Delray. Anyway, you wouldn’t be surprised if you knew the place or the crowd. The very first beer we tried that afternoon (and there were many) was Conte Di Campiglia Etrusca from Firenze (Florence). I believe this beer was brought back from a Beer Tourism Trip done by my friend Mike from BonBeerVoyage. Mike was extremely vocal about the great beer Italy was producing. Later the same afternoon, we drank an awesome “sour” beer called Panil Barriquee, brewed by Panil in Torrechiara, Parma. Tart cherries and apples meet a beautiful underlying sweetness. Just fabulous!
After that day, I haven’t really had the chance to try any new Italian beers. But I have paid attention to what’s going on. Probably one of the biggest triumphs for Italian beer happened when Eataly opened in New York. Eataly has a rooftop restaurant and brewery called Birreria. Now you already had Mario Batali with the restaurant, but then you add Dogfish Head’s Sam Calagione and famous craft Italian brewers Baladin and del Borgo as collaborators on the brewing end? All I can say is DAMN!
One of my favorite articles about the growth of Italian craft beers was written by Zak Avery for Beer Connoisseur Magazine. It is a must read! Learn about the history, growth, brewers, breweries, etc. There is even a resource list at the end with names of breweries and brewpubs and bars to check out on your next trip to Italy. Can you believe there are 4 or 5 hundred craft breweries in Italy? Yep!
Back to Italian beers that are local for me. Though Panil Barriquee is distributed to South Florida, it’s often out of stock. There are two other craft options I saw yesterday: Nora Baladin, a highly rated beer brewed by Baladin in Piozzo, Cuneo; and four different beers brewed by Collesi in Apecchio, Pesaro e Urbino. I haven’t tried any of those to date as the price tag is fairly steep. But eventually, one at a time, I’ll grab them and check them out. And I expect the beer options to increase and prices to drop as more and more people get interested in Italian beers.
So tell me. Have you tried any great Italian beers?