Who comes to Italy for the beer? Sure, Italy was once a beer backwater. Vines grew well; who needed beer? Oh a hot day, hard working Sardinians mixed the local Industrial suds with lemon soda so they could slug it down to re-hydrate without fear of drunkenness.
Today there is an explosion of craft beer in Italy. You can’t swing a cat without hitting someone heading for a pub.
A couple of years ago Katie Parla wrote:
“While most would agree that the Italian craft beer industry was born in 1996 when Teo Musso founded the prolific and influential Baladin brewing company, things have really got moving nationwide in the past 4-5 years.” ~ Why the Italian craft beer scene is so exciting
Our merry band of “travel bloggers” had a meeting with Simone, the brewmaster at Birrificio Mazapégul. It was to be held at the Barbeer in the Romagna town of Forli. We had to walk. Past this:
Italy is a wondrous place. Castles everywhere. And now good beer with odd names can be found in pubs and restaurants.
Ever lust after the taste of a beer named 1000 flies? Have no fear, Mazapégul Millemosche is a tasty golden ale. The name is based on a book written for children, Millemosche e la fine del mondo (A Thousand Flies and the End of the World) by a trio of authors: Tonino Guerra, Luigi Malerba, and Adriano Zannino.
It’s good, sound beer, light in alcohol. Perhaps hard working Sardinians would go bonkers with such a brew on a hot day. But I liked:
Balè Burdeli is a little higher in alcohol and was inspired by American craft ales. It’s named after a traditional Romagna orchestra piece. You can hear it on YouTube
So who’s behind all these beers? The brewmaster was kind enough to provide us with Barbeer fried tidbits perfect for munching with his beer. He’s Simone, not only clever beer evangelist but a delight to yack with over a brew.
Simone has a degree in food science and liked to play around with making beer in his garage before being called to duty at Birrificio Mazapégul. It’s obvious he likes his job, and is very passionate about beer and seeing people enjoy the brews he produces.
How hard is it to make and sell beer in Italy? Lots of people complain about the cost of Italian craft beers, but you may fix the blame squarely on the Italian sin tax that has stifled some of the growth already. Craft brewers evidently pay the same excise duty as larger industrial producers. This amounts to about 2,500 euros in peak months, according to figures I’ve seen, and that’s a huge burden per bottle if you don’t crank the stuff out in bulk.
Despite the cost, Italian beer creators have succeeded in delivering distinctively Italian style beers to their customers. Birrificio Mazapégul does a very nice job in its niche.
So look for the distinctive bottles when you are in Italy, or, if you happen to be in the town of Forli, check out Barbeer. The food is great; Italians have a way with fried things that go wonderfully with beer. Yes, there are even burgers.
Or—you could just hang around drinking beer.