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.



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


For our Italian speaking friends

Hello World!



Our book is out. Pick up a copy and let us know what you think.

We aim to update this blog on a regular basis with news and notes from the incredible world of Italian craft beer.

Paul & Bryan