As a worldwide leader in the production of fine wines and liqueurs, Italy hasn’t been known for beer. But the last decade has seen an industry boom, thanks to trailblazing breweries like Baladin and Birrificio del Ducato. Even stateside operations like Dogfish Head Brewery and Stone Brewing have collaborated with Italian counterparts.
Much like American producers, brewers of birra artigianale often draw inspiration from Belgian and English beer styles, and add their own special touches. They utilize local ingredients like ancient grains, spices and seasonal fruits to create beers that will surely make you say grazie.
Created as an ode to spontaneously fermented Belgian beer, this three-vintage blend from Loverbeer is made with wild yeast and juice from a popular Piedmont export: Nebbiolo grapes. The result is a brightly acidic beer, with floral, grape, cherry and pomegranate notes, and the trademark funky aroma associated with wild ales.
Barley Sella Del Diavolo
Boasting an upfront caramel aroma layered with notes of plum and cherry, this bière de garde strikes the right balance between sweet and toasty. Barley Sella Del Diavolo’s fruity tones are hit by lightly smoked malt to create a pleasant harmony.
Birrificio del Ducato Verdi Imperial Stout
This full-bodied imperial stout pours a dark ebony color. It offers notes of cocoa and coffee as well as a spicy finish suggestive of the chiles used. Fun fact: Verdi won a gold medal in 2008 at the European Beer Star, the first Italian craft beer to win this category at an international beer contest.
Almond ’22 Brewery Pink IPA
While neither pink nor a traditional IPA, this Italian pale ale is brewed with pink peppercorns. It has peach and grapefruit aromas, while the light-bodied palate leads into a dry, spicy finish. This Pink IPA is an excellent partner for a charcuterie board.
Baladin 2014 Xyauyù Teo Musso Reserve
Vintage dated and aged for two-and-a-half years using the solera method, which also oxidizes it, this barleywine has notes of chocolate and dried fruit. With no head or carbonation, it’s more akin to a Port or Sherry, which makes it a nice digestivo.