This article, written by Adam Rains, appears on Tales of the Cocktail, Behind the Bar.
Italians have always been craftsmen, but when it came to beer, the only tradition was making pilsner-style beers on a macro-brewer model. What Italy lacks in beer traditions, however, they make up for in newfound passion. Home to the slow food movement (a response to mass-produced fast food) and an international hub for viticulture and the culinary arts, Italians are stepping away from beer mechanized on the industrial scale and applying their culinary ethos to making ales and lagers. They’re now drawing on their heritage and passion to make world class beer. On the forefront of this better beer movement, Birrifcato Del Ducato‘s Giovanni Campari says,
“Italians have always been known as artisans, but also in the gastronomic sense, and the beer can represents this in a perfect way,” he says. “Beer [is] a mix of knowledge between natural world and culture. And Italian people do it better!”
Drawing on influences from the Americas and from their closer neighbors in Belgium, Germany and England, Italian brewers have bridged the gap between old world and new. Valter Loverier of LoverBeer, a driving force in the Italian craft beer movement, explains: “Always the old world inspires us but, paradoxically, in recent years this influence came from the New World. Even today Europe is awakening and seeking its origins but certainly the bulk of the work was done in the U.S. over the past thirty years.”
And, like in the U.S., it was all born from the home brew movement. Home-brewing wasn’t officially legal in Italy until 1995, but soon after, a small revolution began. Brewpubs and small breweries started opening up from Rome to Milan and beyond. Teo Musso of Baladin brewery is credited with being the first, but around that same time, Birrificio Italiano of Agostino Arioli, Lambrate in Milano, and Turbacci in Mentana (Rome) all emerged as pioneers of the Italian Beer scene. Read more at Tales of the Cocktail.