Thursday, 7 June 2012

Ciao, Bella

Pink Pepper IPA.

Italy is not known for beer.  With wine regions like the Chianti Valley and Montepulciano, there is little demand for the mediocre national beer brands.  Peroni, Nastro Azzuro, and Birra Moretti pretty much all taste the same.

However, there has been a surge in the popularity of craft beer in Italy.  A number of smaller breweries have taken to producing beer in the Belgian style, and are creating high-quality craft beers with original flavor adjuncts.

The first one I came across in Rome.  Almond 22 is a brewery in Pescara housed in a former candy shop.  The factory, founded in 1922, used peeled almonds to produce the famous confetti of Sulmona, those multi-colored candies you may have seen at weddings.  I came across the “Pink IPA”, a pale ale using Simcoe, Nelson Sauvin and Hallertau Saphyr hops and flavoured with pink peppercorns. The peppercorn flavour was not overpowering, but adds a faint spicy flavor to the brew.
We have a fridge!!!

For almost an entire month, I was only able to drink beer in bars, or suffer through a lukewarm beer in the hotel.  Finally in Sorrento I was able to score some micro-brewed specimens and keep them COLD.  The Ulisse Deluxe Hostel is more luxurious than many hotels I have stayed, at for cheaper than my no-frills room in Rome.  All I really cared about was the fridge.

Fancy beer in a fancy "hostel"
I always thought “Birrificio” was a brand.  It’s not.  It means “brewery” in Italian.

Birrificio Sorrento makes two varieties that make use of two citrus fruit .  I bought a bottle of the “Arancia” (orange) variety, and shared it among my fellow hostellers.  The orange flavor is faint, but adds a zesty touch to the otherwise nutty finish.

You can find a few Italian craft beers in Canada.  Sherbrooke liquor carries good selection from Birrificio Del Ducato and Birrificio Bruton.  Hopefully we will see more of Italy’s developing beer culture in the future.

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