This is the second part of a two part article all about the microbrewers and artisan beers to be found across the Italian regions. Here we focus on the beer makers themselves and what to eat with your favorite Italian beer.
The newly opened Rome Eataly seemed the best place to take stock of the current artisan beer trend in Italy.
The selection of beers came from all over Italy and there were a few familiar names. Not least Baladin by Teo Musso and Birra del Borgo by Leonardo di Vicenzo, but also a few we hadn't heard of such as Birra Duan from Taranto in Puglia, Birra di Pedevana from Belluno and Birra Montegioco from Alesandria.
The beer makers from Lazio were well represented and we noted Birrificio Turbacci from Mentana and Birrificio Itineris whose Birra della Tuscia are fabulously after ancient Roman roads; Cassia, Flaminia and even Francigena.
Zia of course, means 'Aunt', but it you look closely the word is actually 'Laziale' or literally 'the football fans of Lazio'. We didn't have chance to try the beer, but it's safe to say there will be no takers of the brew in nearby Testaccio, a Peroni stronghold.
One of the best beers we have tasted was made by Bruton based in the Garfagana near Lucca in Tuscany. It was called 'Bianca' and was a clear beer made predominantly from the local farro. It was incredibly refereshing with a hint of coriandar and orange peel.
The brewery is named after the beer once offered to the Minotaur by the Minoans of ancient Crete and the logo is indeed an impressive looking bull.
In contrast, the Pecora Nera or Black Sheep by Birrificio Geco located in Cornredo, province of Milan, looks a lot tamer, but has been voted one of the best stouts in Italy. It is intensely dark and is topped off with a head the color of a cappucino. The strong taste is a mix of coffee, chocolate and licorice.
Talking of licorice, we also spotted a 'Birra Nera alla Liquirizia Amarelli' in Rome Eataly and made by the eponymous Calabrian company. They also make a Pils version ideal for accompanying fish dishes.
Another region to seek out artisan beer is Le Marche. We were lucky enough to be passng the Abbey of Fiastra a couple of years ago and stumbled upon a product by the Birrificio Il Mastio located in nearby Urbisaglia.
It was, suitably enough, a Double Malt Abbey Beer or 'Abbadia Bruna' inspired by Belgian Trappist beers and was perfect with the local salami.
The latter has been inspired by Fellini and although officially from Emilia Romagna the beer is actually made in the province of Pesaro Urbno, to be precise Apecchio. The four types of beer are named after notorious local women, if you see what we mean, Volpina, Gradisca, Midona and Tabachera,
We are only aware of three locations where beers are actually made by or inside Monastic communities in Italy. They are Birra Cascinazzza near Milan, Monastero di Vallchiara near Lanuvio and Birra del Carrobiolo in Monza (below).
So you have your beers, what dishes do you enjoy them with?
For sure pizza and at least in Rome no one thinks of drinking anyhing else.
The website www.compagniadellapizza.it has made the following suggestions to refine your choice
- Pizza Margherita - Lager
- Pizza Napoli - Weisse
- Pizza 4 Formaggi - Strong Belgian Ale
- Vegetarian Pizza - Real Ale
They also suggest a Double Malt Abbey Ale for a pizza we have not been lucky enough to try yet, Pizza Abruzzo, which is garnished with mozzarella, fresh porcini mushrooms, saffron from the Navelli Plain and pecorino cheese fom Farindola.
If you don't fancy a pizza, then try this four course meal made of dishes featuring beer as an ingredient.
Antipasti - Crostini allo speck with Beer
Primo - Risotto with Beer
Secondo - Fillet of Perch with Beer
Dolce - Zabaione with beer