Italian Craft Beer

Italian Craft Beer: Italy is not just about wine

Italian craft beer

So you thought Italy was all about wine  right? Have you spent your last Italian holiday tasting every single Chianti selection? Well, let us prove you wrong! Wine is still our best product, no doubt, but there is a new trend spreading in Italy, thanks to young, local and creative entrepreneurs: Italian craft beer!

After long years of religious dedication to the art of wine production, the new Italian generation realized that with our great genuine products we could also give it a try with beers! And so it happened! Don’t you trust me? Take part in our Florence Beers and Bites tour and find out more! Let us guide you and surprise you and discover Italy’s newest flavours!

Italian Craft beer

As a matter of fact, Italy’s craft beer scene turns out to be one of the most creative in Europe, with around 500 breweries established in the past 10 years, most of them small-size and relatively young. Italy’s craft beers often contain unusual ingredients such as grape must, chestnuts and different fruits and spices, depending on the region the brewerie is located and the typical products of their area you will find interesting mix of flavours in your beer.

If you want to try a Tuscan one, visit the Birrificio Toscano BSV! Their speciality is Pratomagno, flavoured with a mix of herbs from Pratomagno Mountain!

Birra Viva Toscana

Birra Viva Toscana

The coolest thing is that Italian craft beers are so local-based that you really need to go and look for them sometimes! You won’t just find them everywere, as for wine, and strangely enough it is easier to find them in small Italian villages.  So whenever you travel across Italian countryside, stop by local small pubs and ask taste their selection of Italian craft beer! If you are in Florence, no need to struggle: just contact us and join our Florence Beer tour!

As every Italian product, also with beer quality is the first element. The rest is creativity! 

GRAPPA AND ITS MULTIPLE USES

If you have in mind to visit destinations in northern Italy you can’t ignore grappa. Let’s say it, in Italy a meal can’t be considered finished until you drink the so called ammazzacaffè…which can be literally translated into “coffee-killer”, since is meant to dull the caffeine effect.

A glass of grappa

Each Italian region has its own traditions in terms of ammazzacaffè, but we can say that if in southern Italy usually restaurants serve the world-famous Limoncello, in northern Italy what will arrive on your table is grappa. Of course many restaurants have Limoncello, but since you’re here, why don’t try something local? And honestly after a rich Milanese menu there’s nothing better than a little glass of grappa to help the  digestion. After all, as old (and wise) people say: a devil drives out another.

If you’ve never seen it, imagine that grappa can be transparent, golden or brownish and contains around 40% alc/vol. It comes from the distillation of pomace and, exactly like for wine, the taste depends on the grapes used to make it and on the aging. If aged in wood barrels, the color turns into yellow or darker and it gets a nice vanilla taste.

Let's spray some grappa!

Let’s spray some grappa!

In our Milan Food Tour, we figured  out a way to taste it…by spraying it! Our clients decide if to spray it directly in their mouth or on a hand and then to smell it…Don’t worry, for tougher people small glasses are provided ;-). We picked a variety of grappa distilled from a sweet grape, with a nice floral bouquet of honey, vanilla, almond and fruits like apple and pear. We promise, even the most hesitating person was surprised by how sweet and smooth it can be.

But speaking about habits, how do we serve it in Italy? Basically we drink it straight in small glasses, or we add it to the coffee to make the so-called caffè corretto (literally “corrected coffee”). The quantity served depends on you and on where you are, don’t be surprised if in simple trattorie in country side we bet that they’ll pour you a bigger quantity of it! If you’re hosted by a local family it may happen that after dinner the host proudly opens for you his liquor cabinet and describes you the features of each variety of grappa in it.

If you don’t like to mix your coffee with grappa, you can “rinse” the cup with some grappa after that you finish the coffee. Just put a little amount of grappa in the cup, stir and drink…yummy!

But grappa’s multiple purposes are not finished yet! It can also be used to give a twist to a simple fruit salad. The best is with peaches, just slice them, add some sugar and some grappa and eat them…you’ll be surprised by the taste! Same with gelato, try to put some on top of your vanilla, pistachio or chocolate gelato and tell us if it’s not delicious.

Last but not least, try to put some on meat before putting it on the barbecue, it will give it a special taste and the meat will be more tender.

We bet you’re curious now, then join our walking tour in Milan, learn about grappa’s multiple, creative uses and make a toast with us.. Cin Cin!

Christmas beer in Italy

As we already know, Italy is not only the land of wine anymore: its passion for brewery is increasing and it’s really easy to find some nice craft beer here and there.

Often, they customize it, adaptating to the weather and the period of the year. Christmas beer is, in my opinion, one of the most difficult beer to make: it has to be tasty and cozy, and yet not so strong – no one wishes to get drunk on Christmas! Besides, it has to get along both with food and dessert.

natale

Well yes, you read well: “Christmas beer” is actually a thing. A craft beer, for the sake of precision.

It’s easier and easier to find them, mostly at beer fairs where the local producers sell their own in glamorous one liter bottles, and the number of italians buying it or making it a present is increasing as well.

So, if you happen to be around during this red-and-gold period, try some golden drink!

1 - in a pub: two examples, there can be much more! In Rome, in  the “Prati” zone, you will find a small pub with a strange and nordic name. It’s LAPSUTINNA, where you can find some delicious, seasonal, craft beers. The winter one is tasty, with cinnamon hints, and it’s perfect with their home made fried potatos (or anything else).
If you are planning a trip in the Eternal City and you are curious to taste special beers, Rome Beer and Bites Tour is just what you need!
In Florence there is one famous brewery called “Mostodolce” (mosto is actually a wine thing, and that’s quite ironic) where they serve you only their own beer. And a dessert called “birramisù” : guess what might it be :)

birramisu

 

Florence Beer and Bites Tour should be a realy nice experience for you and your group!

At last but not least, we could not miss Milan, the most european city in Italy: a lot of pubs, many different places to visit and….Milan Beer and Bites Tour, of course : )

2 – in a shop: All over Italy you will find good beer shops, usually they serve it as well. It’s always so good to taste (possibly with the help of someone who knows what he’s talking about) a craft beer with matching food, while choosing between the hundreds of fancy bottles around you! Try once, and you’ll never regret.

3 – at a fair. Beer fairs are practically spreaded everywhere. Even the tiniest town has its own beer fair, and usually they don’t have a lot of choices. But when it comes to great fairs, or just to people who love their work, it’s another thing. Wander around with your graduated glass and taste each beer with small sips. You maybe don’t think so, but your mouth will be able to find the perfect Christmas flavour between them!

 

 

 

How do you like your beer?

Brewery” is a word that usually goes with the Germans or the Belgian abbeys, where the most famous artisanal beers were born. And it’s quite funny to think that they used it as a replacement for food, in their meditation and fasting periods!

All beers are delicious, and we all know that almost every country has its special golden nectar: from the delicate Blanche beers in Belgium to the Weizen beers in Germany, you will find plenty of flavors while travelling around: especially nowadays, beer is experiencing quite a renaissance: beer fairs, beer experts, beer lovers are popping out like mushrooms.

But… what about Italy? Italy is the land of wine, ain’t it? Why would we care about beer when we have this wonderfully rich acres of land?

We are probably known for our ‘pizza&birra’ dinners, possibly to consume while watching a soccer match: our beers, in the common thought, are light and sparkling, perfect to be drank in a warm summer night… “Una birra ghiacciata è proprio quello che ci vuole!”, you will hear that quite often when you walk around in town as soon as the sun starts to heat. And when the sun goes down, what’s better than a cool beer to drink with your friends?

Chair-Magazine-Birra-artigianaleAnd yet, during the last five years more or less, we assisted to a ‘beer rebirth’: in stores, just next to the most common brands – the big brown 66cl bottle, anyone? – it’s more and more easy to see some fancier package, to try some interesting taste. Italians re-discovered beer!

You don’t need anymore to dig deep to find a nice beer: stores are filled with strange bottles, but you can find also pretty cute ‘Birrerie” in town, who will let you try their own product.

These beers come usually from “microbirrifici”: if the subject was music here, I probably would have said that these breweries are indie, lo-fi, underground colorful experiences… And they’re experiences to be tried.

So, how are these new ‘indie’ beers? The styles are just the same as in all over the world, with a touch of creativity that makes perfectly understandable the idea of a beer with some typical Italian meal – yes, the one that you usually would pair with wine.

Let’s have a quick overview!

1) IPA

Screen-shot-2010-01-10-at-21.38.45-590x393Short for “India Pale Ale”, it comes from England, and it was originally meant to be exported in India: the long trip this beer had to take is the reason of its peculiar characteristics – like a higher alcohol graduation than the normal Ale, and the bitter-ish flavor of hops that comes right at the tongue.

Being not a delicate taste, goes very good with rich entrees and sauces: English like to drink it with red meat or strong cheeses, so why do not try it while enjoying a semi-old cow cheese (but pecorino will do as well) or some Parma? The bitterness and the slightly salty flavours will truly pop in your mouth!

2) SPICES AND CEREALS BEERS

Tired of the ‘normal’ beer flavors? What did these five girls say… Spice up your life beer! There’s a whole world out there where you can taste pepper-beers, ginger-beers, herbs-beer… brewers love to dare, and try interesting combinations.

Most of these beers are suitable for winter: imagine yourself walking on the cold stoney streets of our cities, desiring nothing more that somewhere cozy to go – then you’ll find a pub where they will hand you a nice pint of cinnamon beer and a warm hamburger sandwich. Suddenly it’s home!

3) LAGER BEERS

Yes, we do have our Lager: light alcoholic, golden and sparkling beer that goes perfectly with… pasta! Its moderate alcohol degree makes it good for a refreshing lunch with friend, a pic-nic, or a warm night on the beach.

It’s the most common beer in the world, that’s why it is so versatile. Have it cold, make a toast and enjoy summer!

pizza_birra…Wait! There’s something missing here, a very important question: after all this, what will happen to our beloved Pizza&birra?

Fear not, this is a pairing that will never disappear. To enhance the flavor of pizza, though, the common light and sparkling beer is not our best choice: pizza is still made of wheat, and its strong flavors may overwhelm the beer, and if the drink it’s too bitter it will ruin the dish.

Better will be try a stronger (in taste, not in alcohol, unless you don’t have to drive!) one: bocks or weizen will do their job. And, of course, we do produce them.

Thirsty after reading? Try some good beer with our Florence Beer Tasting, at the Beer House Club in Corso Tintori.. and discover which one best suits you!

 

WHAT IS APERITIVO?!

Italians love their drinks and food and aperitivo is the prelude to our rich meals. Aperitivo is meant to whets your appetite by “opening” your stomach for the feast that’s about to take place.
This is a must do when in Italy and you can bring your kids too, because nowadays you can have it also non-alcoholic !

 

Aperitivo was born in the late 18th century in Torino with Antonio Benedetto Carpano who created the first aperitivo drink: vermut.

Carpano Label

Carpano Label

Vermut is a herbed flavored white wine that Carpano started serving as a pre-meal drink in the central square of Torino, Piazza Castello. Soon afterwards the Martini & Rossi company started a mass production of this white and spiced wine, that we all know now as Martini, but is no longer classified as vermut because not strong enough.

Aperitivo started to spread all over Italy in the 19th century and has reached us to this days, with changes and evolutions. The traditional drinks are: vermutNegroniAmericanoSpritzProsecco. On the non-alcoholic side you can have Sanbittèr or Cordino, strong and bitter in taste, but soft for those who want to enjoy the happy hour without the dizziness!

ALCOHOLIC DRINKS

As said before, the alcoholic drinks are meant to “prepare” your stomach for the meal, but don’t overdo it, you wan to have some wine with your meal too!

Campari Negroni

Did you know that Negroni was born in Florence? It happened in the 1920s thanks to Count Camillo Negroni, who used to drink Americano in his favorite bar until one day, bored with the same drink, asked the bar-tender to add a sprinkle of gin – instead of the seltzer – to give it a twist. As we know now, it was then renamed after the count itself.

Americano is another usual aperitivo drink, that was actually born in Italy despite the name. It’s composed with Italian beverages: Campari BitterVermut and seltzer. Apparently it’s named after a popular Italian boxer, Primo Carnera, who used to have matches mostly in the USA and was himself called “The American Boy”.

Spritz is a most famous drink, originated in Veneto and quickly spread in all north-east Italy. It descend from a custom of the Austria soldiers that couldn’t handle the strength of the Venetian wines and therefore added a part of soda to their wines.

Spritz “Macchiato”

This practice turned into a popular drink, especially from the 1970s when Aperol Soda started to promote the “Spritz Macchiato” (stained or dirtied Spritz) which is the original base of prosecco and soda, plus a hinge of Aperol that adds a touch of reddish to the otherwise pale Spritz and a little taste of orange. Now is called simply spritz.

NON-ALCOHOLIC APERITIVO

You might not get the blur from the fumes of the alcohol, but this drinks have sugar just as well so don’t exaggerate with this either.

Crodino Bottle

Crodino Bottle

Sanbittèr is the first non-alcoholic  Italian “cocktail” mass produced and became famous quite immediately; it’s a sparkling infuse of fruits and herbs, with a bitter taste that recalls quite well an alcoholic drink. Another famous non-alcoholic drink is Crodino whihc is an infuse of spices. The recipe is kept secret, it’s know that is has coriander, cloves, cardamom and nutmeg and also this is quite bitter in taste.

APERITIVO FOOD

Don’t think that you’ll drink on empty stomach! Aperitivo is always accompanied by some delis.

Maybe it wasn’t this way since the beginning: just a few years ago during aperitivo you’d drink and nibble on olives, chips or crackers. But this is no more, aperitivo has evolved itself into a more complex snack with crostini, cold cuts (ham mostly), cheese, bruschetta and so on.

The latest and ultimate form of aperitivo is AperiCena: you drink aperitivo while eating on a “buffet dinner”, which varies from bar to bar, but basically you get all sorts of pasta dish, meat dishes, crudité with dips, along with the classic aperitivo food mentioned above.

Apericena Buffet

Apericena Buffet

Apericena is more expensive than aperitivo - around 10€ per drink, food comprehend – but you eat almost as much as on a meal, that’s why it became so popular among youngster. In the past years it spread all over Italy, even if is still more common in north-center of the country, and within all ages and kind of people.

WHEN…?

Aperitivo happens later than happy hour – without excluding happy hour itself

Now, the apericena or aperitivo time starts from 7pm more or less, but you can still get a drink starting from 6pm, so you can start by “opening” your stomach in preparation for the aperitivo. Between 9pm and 10pm, apericena ends.

If you’re on holiday in Italy and want to try it, know that you can’t start eating before 7pm and check also the prices, because if you don’t want to eat you have to specify it to the waitress when ordering your drinks. In some places during aperitivo time it’s mandatory to have also food therefore pay full price.

Santo Spirito, Oltrarno, Firenze

Santo Spirito, Oltrarno, Firenze

If it’s spring or summer, you have to seat outside, most bars don’t have tables outside and you might end up sitting on a curb, bench or wall, with a plate in one hand and the drink in the other, wondering how you’re going to eat or drink without resting your plate or glass on the ground. After a couple drinks it gets easier. Or you can practice beforehand at home.

Worst part of apericena, are the smurfs-size plates: you can’t get much to eat at one time and have to keep refilling your plate, but the trays of food are stock up continuously and you won’t miss anything.

Now you know all that you need to know to have a proper Italian aperitivo, it is a must do when visiting Italy so make sure to plan it in your visit! And if you need a closer insight on Italian food a guided food tour is always a good start.

So enjoy your Italian holidays and be Italian for one night having Aperitivo or Apericena.

Florence Beer Tasting

Florence Beer and Cheese Tasting!

Florence Beer and Cheese Tasting!

Italians are the masters of fermentation: wine and bread are the most noted products but what about Italian beer? Italy gets left in the dust for beer appreciation but little know that a beer culture is brewing across the delicious peninsula! Italy Food Culture is your resource center for various food tours offered in Florence, Milanand Rome and we are happy to announce that in addition to the classic food tours and wine tastings we offer in Italy, we are now offering a Craft Beer Tasting in Florence!

A little history about Beer:

Ancient documentation of Beer Culture via Wiki Commons

Ancient documentation of Beer Culture via Wiki Commons

 Beer is one of the world’s oldest prepared beverages, possibly dating as far back to 9500 BC Neolithic times! This is suggested to be the period when cultivated cereals was first recorded in the written ancient history books in the Middle East and Northern Africa. According to The History of Beer, archaeologists speculate that beer was instrumental in the formation of civilizations. Today, social scientists suggest that Beer is a social lubricant, bringing together people from around the world on Food Tours in Italy! Okay that last part was exaggerated but no doubt is beer a truly special product that glues friends and people together from all walks of life world-over.

 

Thirsty for some info about the new Florence Beer Tasting? Check out some Frequently Asked Questions:

What is a Craft Beer Tasting in Florence?

beer florence BHCThe Florence Beer Tasting takes place in a local pub downtown Florence where you can find different draft beer, which change according to the owners’ taste and seasonal availability, who also will guide you through this experience and be a wealth of information regarding all things beer. This is not a tour, but rather an informative, informal beer tasting with a master brewer in their pub.

What will we learn? 

beer florence divina enotecaYou will learn the history of beer making and its development in Tuscany and Italy, getting to know the beer types by tasting 3 different kinds of it, you will be enlightened by the high and low beer fermentation world.

What is included in the Florence Beer Tasting?

3 Beer tastings, all intentionally paired with typical Tuscan food like locally cured meats, salami, hand-made crostini and appetizing marinated veggies. A selection of craft beers you might taste: Lager, Pils, Sour Ale, Porter, Stout, Belgian Strong Ale, IPA and more. Want more? Add-ons are definitely welcome!

How much in the Florence Beer tasting?

For a guided tasting, meeting the local brewmaster, a private tasting, 3 beers and food pairings…just 35€ per adult! Beer Tastings in Florence are scheduled daily at 5:30pm.

Still thirsty for knowledge? Contact us! We are available 24/7 to answer any and all questions that may “brew” up:)

Cheers! Salute! Cin Cin!

Where to taste Italian Craft Beer

BEERITALYIf you are traveling to Italy, you may not have Italian craft beer on your to-do list but we think you should! Italian craft beer is really taking off in major Italian cities like Rome, Florence and Milan where you can taste some of the greatest beer local artisans are brewing up. If you think about it, Italians are the masters of fermentation with wine so why not BEER? Give it a shot! Or rather a pint!:)

Here is where and how you can taste Italian craft beer at its finest in cities throughout Italy, starting with Rome, Florence and Milan.

ROME

Ma Che Siete Venuti a Fa’- This is a quaint little beerpub in the trendy, central district of Trastevere in Rome. It is humble and small but does not lack in offering a wide array of tasty brewed beers. Plenty of Italian beers on tap with friendly, knowledgeable staff (who can make up for your lack of Italian should you have any reservations) to guide you through their extensive collection. The name translates into “What the hell are you doing here?” so you better enjoy some beer like you mean it. Address: Via Benedetta 25     00153 Rome, Italy (Trastevere) Phone number +39 06 97275218 Business website: football-pub.com

 

Beer drinking in Rome goes WAY back in time

Beer drinking in Rome goes WAY back in time

Domus Birrae- Located off the beaten path of Roma central in the cute and chic Monti, lies a beer pub that is slightly higher brow serving brews not only from top notch Italian makers but also features beer from around the world. It is reported that excellent English is spoken here and with rare and unique beers to match. If you happen to find yourself in Rome for an extended period and are interested in home brewing, they also have resources and materials for those of you interested! Address: Via Cavour 88 00184 Rome, Italy     (Monti) Phone number +39 06 97997570 Business website domusbirrae.com

FLORENCE

Florence Beer and Cheese Tasting!

Florence Beer and Cheese Tasting!

If you are in Florence and are looking for Italian craft beer- you just got lucky! We have just launched a new Beer Tasting Tour in Florence that will not only teach you about the Italian craft beer craze that is sweeping the food and drink obsessed nation, but you will also get to visit the cities top rated and post popular breweries, beer pubs and bars. This is the best way to get your feet wet with Italian craft beer while doing something fun and social in Florence. Drinking tours are the best tours. The icing on the cake: food pairing and finger foods are included on this beer tour. Score!

MILAN

Milan has a buzzing food and drink scene being one of the greatest metropolitan cities in Europe, let alone Italy. We also offer not necessarily a tour wholly dedicated to beer as we do with our Beer Tour in Florence but where you will taste one of Italy’s most famous beers on our Milan Food Tour. Plus, with your local guide in Milan they will give you an exhaustive list of beer pubs and artisan drinking holes around the city of Milan for the traveling beer lover. If you can’t make our tour here is a place we suggest for tasting top notch craft Italian beers in Milan:

 

Outside the BQ Beer heaven in Milan

Outside the BQ Beer heaven in Milan

BQ Birra Artigianale di Qualita’- Translated into Quality Artisan Beer, BQ for short is a craft beer pub with several Italian beers on tap and it is literally a hole in the wall. But that is okay because BQ is located along the hippest Navigli district of Milan where most people gather outside anyways for a drink and a chat. If you are craving some street food, they also offer some affordable options for piadine (what I like to call Italian quesadillas) and panini. Not to be missed for the beer and pub crawling traveler. Address: Alzaia Naviglio Grande 44  20144 Milan, Italy (Porta Genova) Phone number +39 02 89403212 Business website birreriabq.wordpress.com