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.