It's all about the beer and finding your way to it

Monday, May 17, 2010

Beer in Italy

A recent trip to Italy has helped to revise my opinion of Italian beer quite a bit. Recent years have seen a growth in Italian craft brewing as brewers try to take the Italian reputation for fine quality ingredients into the realm of beer. Last year I tried a couple different Italian beers in NYC but was left underwhelmed by them. They either tried to imitate existing styles, like Belgian tripels, or come up with their own, most often by making a chestnut beer (Italy grows a wide variety of chestnut types). Prices for these beers were quite high (~$15/glass) and I did not see how it was justified when I could, for example, get a much better actual Belgian tripel at a less cost. Similarly, the chestnut beer I tried tasted like some sort of chestnut juice drink and not a proper beer.

Visiting Rome changed that. We went to both Bir & Fud beer restaurant (only serving Italian beers) and the Domus Birrae beer store while there and every beer we had was quite good. There was an excellent chestnut ale from Birra Amiata that came across as a rich brown ale with a teasing hint of chestnut. Another one was the Orso Verde Rebelde a beer that uses american hops to create a very drinkable and refreshing american pale ale. Great one for a summer day. Probably my favorite was Magut, a crisp hoppy pilsener from Lambrate. It was really spot on with its hop character and body.

So I will revise my opinion and readily say that I was impressed with the quality of craft brewed Italian beer. Try it out if you see some of it.

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