Oh, the merry beers of Christmas

Oh, the merry beers of Christmas. Those fantastic brews spiced with Christmas love. For Italy, the idea of a Christmas beer only dates back to the late 1990s. Think about that. Christmas originated in Italy, yet the Christmas beer and all its cheer didn’t arrive until the end of the 20th century. 

Here is a list of some of the great Italian Christmas beers you can find in the US that might brighten the holiday spirits. 

Noel from Baladin is probably the first Italian Christmas beer. Brewed by one of the pioneers of the Italian craft beer movement, Teo Musso. This gem of a Belgium Quad was so delicious that Teo decided to keep this Christmas beer year round by changing the name to Leon (Noel backwards). Each year, the Noel is brought back but with a little surprise like vanilla or coffee and a lot of the Christmas spirit. 

Moreno Ercolani from L’Olmaia, located near Montepulciano, distinguishes himself with his Christmas beer cloned from his home brewing days. It’s an 8.5% delight called Christmas Duck 

“In our little territory here when someone’s drunk you say in our dialect, he’s ducked. La Nana, is Tuscan for the Italian word, l’annatra, the duck. The expression derives from the way someone walks after they’ve had too many drinks. It’s the drunk of Christmas or the Christmas Duck.” 

It still blows our mind that Valter Loverier’s beers reach us all the way out here in the US. Loverbeer’s small operation brewed 160 barrels of beer in 2013. We don’t imagine it’s grown much since then. With a passion for Flemish style beer, every batch is barreled aged and made with love. Drawing on this old Flemish beer style, A Renna Glueh brings the Christmas spirits by way of the gluhkriek and gluhwein, which is a mulled wine. Taking from the base of D’uvabeer, a sour/wild beer made with wine must, Valter adds winter spices, cinnamon, cloves, star anise and orange peel to help you be merry and warm during the holidays.                                                    

From Roncole Verdi where the maestro, Giuseppe Verdi was born, Italy’s most award-winning brewer, Giovanni Campari, honors Giuseppe Verdi’s second wife, “the sour wife”. Drawing inspiration from Belgian styles, Krampus Riserva Strepponi features nine different spices in a sour package by way of wild yeasts, brettanomyces and lactic bacteria. Krampus is then aged for 12 months. 

“I created Krampus Riserva Strepponi a few years ago when I decided to use Brettanomyces, Bruxellensis and Lactobacillus strains for the secondary fermentation in bottle. The first batch was far from encouraging; it smelled like prescription drugs, acid yogurt and salami mold. We stored it meaning to dispose of it and forgot all about it. Then, during a hot summer day, Maso (at the time assistant brewer) presented me with a blind taste test. I was taken by surprise: a well balanced mix of aromas of rust, lactic, leather, cherries, fruit candies, anise, citron, balsamic and cola with a sour finish. It painted a big smile on our faces.” 

Three breweries bring you their own original versions of a Belgium Strong Ale. From the northwest we come to Turin, a hub for the Italian craft beer scene where most of craft breweries are found. Troll’s Stella di Natale clocks in at 10.5%, while Pausa Café brings their Navidad at 8%. Leonardo Di Vincenzo from Del Borgo in Rome warms our spirits with his Winter Warmer style the 25 Dodici 

Grado Plato’s Gabriele Ormea decided to go more British with his English bareleywine Kukumerla at 10%. That’s sure to bring the caroling out of ya.   

Buone Feste e Cin Cin

 

The Rise of the Italian Beer Critics

At the 3rd Annual Brussels Beer Challenge this year, of the 725 beers, 200 were Belgium, 525 were from around the world with 110 being Italian.

Held this year in the great beer city of Leuven, a location with an ancient and great beer tradition, the tasting took place from October 31st to November 2nd. Beers were divided into categories based on origin, type and style. Winners were given gold, silver and bronze awards. Once again, Italy took home multiple prizes with five Gold, four Silver, three Bronze and one Honorable Mention.

The importance of the event isn’t so much that Italian craft breweries are winning international beer awards, they have been for some time, it’s their budding role as beer judges. Six of the sixty-one judges were from Italy. Lorenzo ‘Kuaska’ Dabove, who is Italy’s foremost beer critic, was in attendance. Without Dabove, it’s safe to say Italian craft beer wouldn’t be as far along or maybe even on the map. His astute criticism of the first brewers, his encouragement for those getting started and his constant support were crucial in helping Italy become a great craft beer nation.

From the Italian craft beer hotbed of Piedmont, Luca Giaccone is perhaps the second most important Italian judge. His annual book via Slow Foods, Guida Alle Birre D’Italia is the Rick Steves of guide books for the Italian beer reader. His dedication to the movement with his knowledge and guidance has kept the Italian craft beer engine humming. Andrea Turco also attended as one of the judges, his first outside of the country. Turco’s blog, Cronache di Birra is the most informative and up-to-date blog on Italian beer. Along with Maurizio Maestrelli, Severino Garlatti Costa and Vincenzo Scivetti to round out the crew, Italy was well represented.

In the last few years, the Italian’s have been making more of a mark on the international beer world. This year, Lorenzo ‘Kuaska’ Dabove, Anna Manago`, Giovanni Campari and Agostino Arioli all judged at the Craft Brewers Conference’s World Beer Cup. It’s an important development to note. If they can be critical of other great beers, they must be coming from a place with great craft beer. And that is truly the case.

 

Meet the Brewer: Simone Dal Cortivo, Il Birrone

Vicenza is no stranger to breweries. One of the first Italian craft breweries is nearby in Padova and opened at the dawn of the movement, Vecchio Birraio, owned by Stefano Sausa. Vicenza was where six brewery owners in 1997 came together for the first meeting of Italian craft brewers. This would lead to Italy’s most important association, Union Birrai. There are now five breweries in Vicenza and Simone Dal Cortivo and his brewery, Il Birrone is leading the way.

Simone is no stranger to yeast and fermentation. He and his family own a bakery. But there was a calling that Simone couldn’t ignore and this is how it unfolded.

“The first brew kit I saw, I told my wife, Sabrina, I need that. She told me no, you already drink too much beer. But then, for Christmas, when I opened my gift, she had bought me the kit. And that’s where the adventure began. That following morning, I began to brew.

“But soon after I bought the kit, I brewed a batch and found it terrible. A friend of mine gave me a pint of malt to use, I went home and immediately set to brewing. Sixteen days later, I found that batch foul as well. The beer I was making from the kit wasn’t what I had in mind. So I went out and bought a larger vat.”

“For years I worked on my recipes.”

“As a home brewer I was very monotonous, I brewed for 10 years the same beer, the helles. I did make a pilsner or wiezen from time to time, but 80 percent of my concentration on the beer I made was the helles. Mainly it was to reach a quality helles which isn’t easy to make.

“In the beginning they used to tease me, ‘Oh, you want to become German making your simple beers.’ But what they didn’t understand was, those were the most difficult to make. In Rome, that fad for IPAs is curving more towards low-fermented beers with low ABVs in the style of Franconia. The Italian palette is returning to the German lagers. My beers, lagers, have never faded as a fad, being of high quality.”

During his 10 years as home brewer, seven times he attempted to start his brewery. Each time, he had to throw out the beer along with his idea of a brewery. He gave up, but after a month, he had to return and try at it again.

“It’s a passion from the heart. Many of today’s breweries are coming in for the business reasons. It’s not the same.”

Simone continued to create better machines to form his ideal brew. “At my brewery, I have a museum with all my home kits.”

The final kit brewed 400 liters (about 3.5 barrels). At that point, it was no longer for personal brews. That’s when Il Birrone was born.

“I had already bought a large cooler.”

In 2008 Simone invested in a 12 hl (10 barrel) system. He had made up his mind and in April Il Birrone opened. By the end of the year Simone had made 370 hl (315 barrels) of beer—a pretty sizable amount for a new comer in the Italian craft beer world. In the beginning, though, he still had to work at the bakery. So he brewed at night, after work. After a year, brewing had become his job. In 2010 he left the bakery to his brother to run Il Birrone full time. That year they made 1,280 hl (1,090 barrels). By the second year, Simone was well into the business of brewing.

Ninety percent of Italian breweries struggle; you can’t make it with passion alone. “It does take some luck, but in the end, luck alone won’t keep you in business. Last year Italy’s brew scene had a growth of more than 37 percent, something like 45 percent this year.”

This year Il Birrone brewed more than 3,000 hl.

Growth means travel

For the last six months Simone’s not had time to brew. He’s been busy traveling to festivals and events. A move that isn’t easy for Simone. For the first 2,000 hl (1,700 barrels) he had made them all personally, including observing them in the lab. He watched over every drop and found it very difficult to hand over the reins to an assistant. But when he returns, he immediately goes to the brewery to check on his ‘daughters’.

“One of the most important reasons to go to beer festivals is you can gauge how things are changing. Those that don’t go to festivals and stay home lose an opportunity to see what is going on. For example, last week at the Festival of the Beers in Tuscany there were five sours made with fruit. In short, it means that this is a style that is coming into its own here. Not going to festivals, you lose a great opportunity to understand your movement’s direction. You can never say you’ve learned enough. You’re always learning. But when you are fully and passionately into a movement, there’s also fun.”

Via Fossanigo, 6
36033 Isola Vicentina (VI) Italia

T. +39 0444 975702
F. +39 0444 979540
E. info@birrone.it

Beer Around the World Panel

While there are going to be many events during the Great American Beer Festival (GABF), one in particular marks a little shift in how American the GABF has become.

One thing to take note is that the entire world is now looking to our movement in craft beer. When we began our craft beer movement at the beginning of the 1970s, it was truly a handful of pioneers with exceptional willpower that made it all happen. Men like Fitz Maytag who rekindled the old Anchor Brewing Company and would launch a movement that would influence the world 40 years later, or Jack McAuliffe, who would be an influential persona that would be imitated for his engineering and passion. Of course, Ken Grossman, creator of Sierra Nevada, who would put the US on the world beer map as perhaps the father of hoppy American beer. But more locally and very much the global kick starter is Charlie Papazian.

Charlie Papazian moved to Boulder in 1981 and would bring the entire show into one ring, the Great American Beer Festival. All these men and many more have created a beer industry and culture that has never before been seen in world beer history. This influence is now being imitated around the world. As Italy, with all its history dating back as far as 900 BC, adds a new chapter in 1996 with beer. Or Germany, whose long standing brewing laws is now being scrutinized to keep up with craft beer. The American craft beer culture has brought longtime and legendary breweries from Belgium from the brink. Now they too are enjoying the resurgence of their beer as many craft American brewers have imitated their styles. But new beer cultures like Italy are emerging. Japan imports so many beers from around the world that they are now a big part of the movement. Brazil, Mexi-Cali, Peru, Argentina and Spain all have begun their craft beer movements.

So it’s no surprise that during this great celebration of American craft beer there will be a panel of diplomats from around the world discussing their craft beer scenes here in Denver. Some of the attendants from 3 pm to 5 pm, October 2nd at Jazz@Jack’s, located at the at the Denver Pavilions on the 16th Street Mall, will be government representatives including top ambassadors/diplomats from Belgian, Cananda, Japan and Mexico. Representing Italy will be locals Bryan Jansing and Paul Vismara who wrote the first book about the Italian craft beer movement, Italy: Beer Country. The event will be moderated by Ed Sealover, writer for the Denver Business Journal and author of Mountain Brew: A Guide to Colorado Breweries.

It’s certainly beer week in Colorado, but it’s a week being participated and watched by the entire world. I’ll toast to that.

Link

We’ve been on a long hiatus from our blogs, but now that things are becoming manageable again, I plan to maintain a regular blog.

Why have we been away for so long?

Well, projects; lots of them and all very important to our devotion to getting you closer to the Italian craft beer scene. The book has been incrementally rising in sales and acknowledgments. One major project has been getting Italy: Beer Country into reviewer’s hands. A stellar review was in the last edition of the Celebrator and we are very proud to have been mentioned by them so handsomely.

The other part has been getting the Italy: Beer Country to retailers. You can buy our book locally at the Tattered Cover, Book Bar and the downtown Barnes & Noble. We are also very proud to announce that our books can also be found in the Eataly’s in Chicago and Manhattan. The book continues to find its way into people’s hands around the world, including Norway, Tokyo, Italy, England, and across the US.

We also are getting invited to more events. Today, I am writing you from Rome where I have been invited by the great Italian beer blogger, Andrea Turco to his event Fermentazioni. In its second year, this is quickly becoming one of the most important beer events in the nation. What makes this event so important is that it brings brewers that are not accessible to the Roman beer drinker here to them. Rome, as you may know, is a crucial component to the Italian craft beer scene because it’s really where most of the beer is being drunk in Italy. With its eclectic cultures, a healthy Roman curiosity for new things and a broad reach of Pubs, bottle shops and more and more breweries, Rome is the most important city for this movement and it’s key that the Roman public be able to reach these brewers in person from time to time.

 

Included are many of the well-established breweries like Baladin, Toccalmatto, Birrificio Italiano, L’Omaia, Del Ducato, Lambrate, Brewfist, Foglie D’Erba, Del Borgo, and Opperbacco. Alongside them are newer breweries like MC-77, Birradamare, Pontino, Les Bieres du Grand St. Benard, Indipendente Elav, Corce Di Malto, Birranova, Bruton, Birrone, B94, BiRen and on and on, who are all making their own mark today in an ever-growing and changing Italian craft beer scene.

Like the US in the 1990s, Italy is experiencing a surge. While Paul and I traveled to interview breweries, we kept hearing how numbers were reaching 300. As of now, Italy has breached 700 breweries. This is only in a year and a half. Pretty incredible for any craft beer scene, more so when you consider the economic and cultural obstacles. 

Thank you to everybody who’s bought the book and who continue to support us. Keep drinking craft beer, and keep reading our blog for more information in this ever-growing and eclectic market.

In bocca al Luppolo,

Bryan & Paul

Link

For our Italian speaking friends

http://www.mixable.it/Birra/birrificio/birra-italiana-guida-inglese

BIR FUD’S SPRING REBIRTH

Originally posted March 20 on http://birraitaliana2014.blogspot.com

 

When Leonardo Di Vincenzo approached Manuele Colonna, the great Roman publican, in 2007 about opening a high-end pizza joint with only Italian craft beer on tap, it took some convincing. At the time, Leonardo was struggling to get his new brewery Birra Del Borgo off the ground. Even so, he was convinced of his new idea that eventually Colonna conceded. The idea was to open a pizzeria, but this would be one of the most original pizzerias since the conception of pizza in Naples. The notion soon proved to be genius. Bir & Fud would become in short time one of the most important elements in the Italian craft beer movement.

The model of beer with pizza isn’t a new one. In fact, the concept was created by Italy’s big beer companies early on. The main reason for the now long-held association of beer and pizza was simply because the beer industrialists were seeking a common thread throughout Italy. Not a very easy task in a country racked by extreme regionalism. But alas, during the late 19th century, there it was—pizza. Italy had only just been united by Garibaldi’s Risorgimento and formally recognized as a country in 1861. As a fledgling new country built out of city states much of it remained fragmented. The Neapolitan invention of pizza became nationally popular when Queen Margherita and King Umberto I of Savoy visited Naples. The Queen was presented the pizza, a special recipe made for her, one with tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil. The three ingredients made up the three colors of the new Italian flag. The pizza is today’s cheese pizza in America, but in Italy it is still called the Margherita.

From that introduction, the pizza spread throughout Italy. It was the only common food thread from north to south. The industrial beer companies pounced on the new food concept and began to associate beer with pizza. The pizza was as exotic to Italians as beer was; the two made a match that continues to be a common association in Italy.

When Leonardo brought the idea of a pizzeria with beer to Colonna, it wasn’t necessarily a concept Colonna was willing to jump into. After all, the still fledgling Italian craft beer movement was doing everything it could to detach itself from this big beer association. It was a thorn in its side, to be blunt. At the dawn of the movement, Teo Musso, one of the four pioneers and perhaps the most influential brewer in the country, had painstakingly worked to get his beer on the tables of fine dining restaurants. He maneuvered his beer onto the table by first creating beautiful bottles to match those of wine, and then introduced them to the top 500 restaurants in Italy. For the better part of the movement Italian craft beer had been mimicking Musso’s move and placing their beer onto tables meant for wine. And for the better part of the movement, Italy only had a market in the wine world, beer was just a sibling fighting to be at the grownup table.

But Leonardo had a twist to the taboo. Bir & Fud wouldn’t just be any pizzeria. No, it would be something truly special. Enlisting Italy’s up and coming pizza maker, Gabriele Bonci, knighted by Vogue magazine as the Michelangelo of pizza, the pizza at Bir & Fud would be something of its own topic. Bonci’s 200 year-old-mother yeast and gourmet toppings, along with Colonna’s extraordinary ability to bring in great Italian beer directly from the brewers (since there is limited distribution in Italy), the match would recalibrate an old idea and infuse two old familiarities into something unique. Food critics condemned the waste of Bonci’s gourmet pizza on beer, but with hard work, Colonna and Leonardo were able to bring the union home even to the hardened critics.

But from the beginning, something didn’t sit well with Colonna. Though the concept was truly an important move, Colonna knew something wasn’t quite right with their idea. When Colonna visited Teo Musso’s and Leonardo’s collaboration, the impressive, Open Baladin, Colonna saw the mark Bir & Fud had missed. Open Baladin brought Italian craft beer front-and-center like no other, featuring 40 taps, all pouring Italian craft beer. As Colonna gazed at the 40 taps, he realized Bir & Fud’s concept was flawed. Italian craft beer shouldn’t stand alone at their restaurant; rather, it should be showcased along with other great, well-known craft beers from around the world. But there wasn’t much he could do now. Bir & Fud had been launched. Then serendipity made its move.

During a regular inspection by officials, it was realized the kitchen, which had been through thousands of inspections over a few decades through other restaurants, was not to specs. This is after all Italy. Having to make the changes to the kitchen, Bir & Fud would have to be shut down. Seizing the opportunity, Colonna revamped the seven-year-old Bir & Fud.

Still the great pizzeria it was intended to be, Bir & Fud reemerges like Botticelli’s Primavera, illustrious and splendid with a freshness equal to that of spring. Like the barrel of a gun, the bar stretches under a vaulted ceiling offset by shades of octagonal wood tiles made from wooden barrels. The bar has been extended where the kitchen once was. Tapas and finger foods will replace the food once being served in the old kitchen. The taps will feature thirty standard beers and six hand pumps, but not all will be Italian craft beer. As for pizza, well, the pizza will remain the same, but the pizza oven has been updated.

The sleek new look, the new international classic beers along with the Italian craft beers, tapas and Bonci’s pizza all come together to make a successful concept more concentrated. After all, who can doubt the great Colonna, a man who is a support column to the beer movement as one of his concepts comes to fruition just as Colonna intended it to be.

Check out Bir & Fud at Trastevere on Via Benedeta 23 if you’re in Rome or take a look at the pub at www.birandfood.it.

 

AND THE WINNERS ARE THE RESULTS OF THE ITALIAN BEER AWARDS

We originally posted this on our blog (http://birraitaliana2014.blogspot.com) about a month ago. Were adding the relevant posts over here.

 

Back in January I wrote about Andre Turco’s Italian Beer Awards for best of 2013. Turco, a journalist, started Cronache di Birra early in Italy’s craft beer evolution. As I wrote before, no one is better at reporting the movement’s every step than Turco who reaches farther, reports more and brings the entire movement together. Turco is truly the choir of the movement. His continued passion is inspiring and refreshing. England and America had Michael Jackson, Italy can be proud of Andrea Turco for his informative blog and his innovative and creative ways of bringing the message to the people.

The Italian Beer Awards was voted using a two tier system involving both experts and craft beer enthusiasts. Seeking to “award the best players on the national brewing scene,” Andrea Turco collected a large list of who’s who of beer critics to head up the first part of the contest. It was Turco’s desire to ‘on the one hand offer prominence to the best professionals in the industry; the other, directly involve those who drink beer every day.’

“We all know that to operate in a market of quality beer is not easy: it takes devotion, entrepreneurial skills, expertise and a deep love for the product and its culture,” says Turco. “On the other hand the whole movement would not exist without the presence of active consumers and enthusiasts: it is therefore right that the latter decide the outcome of the Italian Beer Awards, allowing them to choose the best character for each type in a list drawn up by some experts of Italian beer.”

During the first half of January, the experts composed a personal list of the best brewers of the Italian craft scene under categories Turco chose, which included: Best Brewery, Best Brewpub,Best Beer Firm, meaning, a location that doesn’t have its own brewery but serves its own beer, Best Pub/Brewery and finally, Best Beershop. The brewers had to be working in Italy for at least twelve months.

Well, the results are out and the winners are:

For Best Brewery in 2013:

Birra Del Borgo (Borgorese)

Birra Del Borgo was started by Leonardo Di Vincenzo in 2007. Leonardo was one of the first Roman brewers. Most breweries in Italy are located in the Piamonte or Lombardia area. Leonardo collaborated with Teo Musso of Baladin (one of the forefathers of the movement) in the founding of Open Baladin, one of Italy’s most impressive beer pubs and which only features Italian craft beer. Leonardo collaborated with the messiah of the Italian tap house, Manuele Colonna in Bir & Fud and with Marco Valente’s La Taberna, one of the most important restaurants bringing Italian craft beer to the table alongside high quality food. Leonardo jointly owns NO.AU, a French Bistro featuring Italian craft beer in Rome. Leonardo Di Vincenzo has stood out as one of the most important brewers of the third generation of Italian craft brewers.

For Best Brewpub in 2013:

Lambrate (Milan)

Lambrate was one of the four founding breweries of the movement born in 1996. A collaboration of friends and family, the five owners made history and advanced the scene with their brewpub. Years of hard work and growing success allowed the group to open a second, larger location not far from their original pub. Their craft beer continues to set a standard in quality and excellence.

For Best Beer Firm in 2013:

Buskers (Rome)

Buskers Pub is one of the most recent additions to the history of Italian craft beer, but Mirko Caretta isn’t a stranger to the movement. Owner of the bottle shop, Bir & Fud Bottega (beershop with no relation to the pub Bir & Fud), Mirko doesn’t just dabble in beer making, he’s brewed with some of the best as a gypsy brewer (he prefers, busker brewer). He began brewing at L’Olmaia, but has also brewed at Del Borgo, Etraomnes and several others.

For Best Pub/Brewery in 2013:

Ma Che Siete Venuti a Fá (Rome)

Ma Che Siete Venuti a Fá (Macche) is the equivalent of the famous Horsebrass Pub in Oregon and Manuele Colonna is similar to the late charismatic founder of Horsebrass, Don Younger. In fact, I’d venture to say that Colonna is the Italian version of Don Younger and just as charming and brilliant. His efforts to tear pubs from the rash of tied houses are allowing independent pubs all over Italy to blossom. His original venture, Macche, is a must-see destination in Rome. His contributions to Italian craft beer continue with his other projects like Bir & Fud and NO.AU. Colonna’s influence to the Italian craft beer scene is so great that it can’t be quantified.

For Best Beershop in 2013:

Bere Buona Birra (Milan)

Milan certainly has its place as one of the regions most blessed with craft breweries, but Rome is by far the engine running the craft beer movement with several well-established tap houses and a plethora of beer shops. Bere Beershop may not have a prominent place in the early history of the Italian craft beer movement, but with beer from all over the world, home brewing kits, three taps and one hand pump, Bere Beershop is making its own mark while dragging Milan out of the craft beer dark ages.

So there you have it. Remember, when you travel Italy today, you no longer have to drink bad beer…so don’t!

Congratulations to all the winners. And thank you Andrea Turco for shinning a light, blasting the horn and keeping the beer thirsty people aware of a gem of a movement.

 

 

 

 

The Italians are coming, the Italians are coming!

This week, as the Craft Brewer’s Conference (CBC) kicks off, we are very happy to have some of Italy’s most influential people in Denver. As Italy’s creative craft beer scene grows and grows and grows, there is no doubt that because of the great foundation provided by the first four brewers, Agostino Arioli from Birrificio Italiano, Teo Musso from Birrificio Baladin, the crew from Lambrate and the Borio brothers of Birrificio Beba, a great movement is coming into its own globally.

When Paul and I began our interviews, starting with Agostino Arioli, there were just over 300 breweries. It was a big deal then. But as we completed the book and began to get it to press, the numbers continued to grow. By the time our book, Italy: Beer Country made it to print, there were over 600 brewers.

From our own American craft beer movement, we know how this story might play out. The astronomical growth can’t continue indefinitely and the staggering numbers don’t necessarily mean that all the breweries will be fantastic, or even adequate. But playing that numbers game, we can be sure that some extraordinary breweries are evolving out of that fertile soil. Breweries like ExtraOmnes, Buskers, Birrificio Rurale, Foglie D’Erba, are more than just new kids on the block and have become influential brewers in their own right. They, in turn, are producing a great many of young apprentices who will move on to do great things themselves. Bruno Carilli’s former assistant brewer, Marcello Ceresa, has already made that leap by opening his own highly regarded place called Retorto. And this, after all, is what it’s all about.

When the American craft brewery bubble burst in the 1990’s, those that remained are considered some of the finest breweries in the world like Avery, Great Divide, Bell’s, Sierra Nevada, Left Hand, New Belgium, Elysian, Odell’s, etc.

Who you can expect to see during CBC from Italy

 Agostino Arioli/Birrificio Italiano

Visiting us during this epic beer week from Italy will be Agostino Arioli from Birrificio Italiano, one of the four founders of the Italian craft beer movement. Agostino’s German influence came at a time when even the word, craft beer didn’t exist in the Italian idea of beer. He fought hard and long to get Italians to understand that beer making isn’t just something produced industrially from places like Germany and Belgium. Agostino has been so influential that he even created a new lexicon in the Italian language, Birrificio. The Italian word for brewery is birreria. The word birreria has been so tied to the industrialization of beer that Agostino gave the word a twist, birrificio, something more organic that can be associated with words like panificio as in bread maker. Agostino is also credited for brewing the first authentic Italian beer, Tipopils. His top-selling beer, Tipopils, is a German-style pilsner which is dry hopped in the English tradition to create a light, flavorful beer that is crisp under the cloud of hoppy aroma. Clean, dry and exceptional it has become one of the most influential beers in the world for its simplicity. As craft beers become more and more complex, great lagers and pilsners are often forgotten. Tipopils has reminded us all that great beer can be extraordinary in its simplicity.

Giovanni Campari/Del Ducato

Giovanni Campari from Birrificio Del Ducato is the most award-winning brewer in Italy. He’s won 61 awards globally and it doesn’t look like he’s going to be running out of medals this year either. Once an apprentice to Agostino Arioli, Giovanni was instrumental in turning Italian craft beer from a local thing into an international and, even harder, a national affair. As the third generation of brewers came into their own, they not only were following their forefathers in making great beer, but were looking at the bigger, business picture for the movement. Giovanni has shown how business and artistry in taste can go hand in hand with beers like ViaEmilia, My Blueberry Nightmare, Baciami Lipsia, Chrysopilis and La Luna Rossa.

 Bruno Carilli/Toccalmatto

Like Giovanni, Bruno came into the game during the third wave of brewers who were not only committed to brewing great beer (and Bruno brews great beer), but also committed in bringing the movement into its own market. Bruno’s background with the big industrial beer like Carlsberg was essential in turning local attitudes into global craft beers. His influence also allowed Italian brewers to take steps away from just Belgian-style beer towards hoppier profiles that were nearly non-existent 5 years ago or simply disregarded because they were a bit overwhelming to the Italian palate. Bruno also brought the hardline regionalism and long held suspicions Italians have of each other to an end. He was the first to do  collaborations and since then many collaborations have followed. Sounds juvenile to us Americans, but Italians have thousands of years of battles and betrayals between one town and the next. Not something easily dismissed.

 Anna Mangò/beer judge

An expert taster, Anna Managò is one of the very, very few women in the Italian movement. But she holds her own and paves the way for many new craft beer fans in Italy, particularly for women. She’s traveled the world and judged some of the most important events. It’s no accident that she is here in Denver to judge the CBC’s World Beer Tour.

 Lorenzo “Kuaska” Dabove/Italian beer expert

It’s hard to fathom where this movement would be without Kuaska. His influence on every generation of Italian craft brewer starting with the forefathers, Agostino and Teo, is immeasurable. If brewers are artists, Kuaska is certainly the critic necessary in turning good efforts into masterpieces. His influence brought Italian craft beer to the Great British Beer Festival, to Canada, Belgium and finally here in America. His endless energy takes him to every corner of Italy. On any given week you can find Kuaska in Rome doing a food and beer pairing or in Bologna doing a beer tasting. Kuaska, in short, is the push that has brought all of this here to us this week. He is greatly respected and should be. The Italian craft beer movement needed one of their own to communicate great beer to them since there were no Italian beer critics when the movement started, no books in Italian on how to craft beer and above all, no one had the global repertoire of beer knowledge to help the movement, one brewer at a time, hone in their skills.

Craft Brewers Conference

The Craft Brewers Conference begins next week here in Denver, but brewers and fans will be coming to town this weekend. Our first event is Sunday, April 6th @ Backcountry Pizza & Tap House in Boulder, CO. The event begins at 1:pm with over 20 sour beers from Europe going on tap. We will have a table set up with our books and we look forward to sampling the sweet and savory food pairings created by Chef Anthony.

Backcountry Pizza is at 2319 Arapahoe Road, just west of Folsom on the north side of the road.

See you there!