Italy's craft beer revolution

Donald Strachan on where to drink the best of brewing

Add This

Donald Strachan

Donald Strachan 
HomeAway travel expert


Italy's craft beer's and barsThe first week in March is a big one for Italian drinkers: the annual Settimana della Birra (“Beer Week”) sees breweries, bars, and bottle shops across the country run events for Italy's growing army of beer lovers.

But, wait: “Italy” and “beer”? I must mean Peroni, right?

Oh, no.

In fact, the country now has over 600 artisan brewers, most of them small and a huge proportion less than five years old. There is a craft beer revolution in full swing. And whatever week of the year you visit, you'll find plenty to celebrate.

 

Donald Strachan's verdict on Italian craft beer

 Styles.   International styles are edging their way into Italian beer culture. Huge-hopped, high-alcohol IPAs are popular. But Italy has its own brewing traditions, too, many of which looked to Belgium for inspiration. Ambrata (amber) beer tends to be sweet-edged rather than bitter or with dominant hops. A Bionda (blonde) has similar richness, but often with a subtle citrus kick. Chiara (“clear”) is the local name for lager-style beers. Scura is dark beer; full-flavoured but not usually with porter- or stout-like burnt bitterness. Rye beer (segale) is another you might encounter. Almost all are slightly fizzy and served cold. Local products also find their way into Italy's beers: don't be surprised to find honey (miele) or chestnuts (castagne), as in Amiata's expressively titled Bastarda Doppia. (Yes, it means pretty much what you think it means.) All Italian artisan beer is unfiltered and unpasteurized.

 Resources.  With so many styles and creative breweries to explore, it is worth doing some homework. Micro Birrifici has a search function to help you find breweries and bars by region. The same functionality is built into their iOS app (69p from the App Store). Slow Food's Guida alle Birra d'Italia book is written in Italian, sure, but is easy to follow for a beerophile hunting reliable advice. Fermento Birra and Cronache di Birra are handy bookmarks for beer lovers who read Italian. The Beer in Italy YouTube channel is a recent development worth watching.

 

 
 

Top places to sample “la birra artigianale”


   

Capital of Beer: Rome Capital of Beer: Rome

The capital of the country is also the capital of beer. It's here you'll find Italy's best craft beer bars, both in the centro storico and in areas away from the sights. Beer lovers will swoon when faced with the “beer wall” in Open Baladin. I lost count at 30 taps on my last visit, and didn't even look in the bottle fridges. The place is all chrome and chatter, and right in the centre, close to Campo de' Fiori. In Trastevere, pub Ma che siete venuti a fà (a.k.a. Macchè) specializes in brews from around Italy and Europe; their Facebook page publicizes special events. The edgier Pigneto district has Birra+, a grungy, laid-back bar with multiple taps and a big bottle fridge that keeps brews from Italy, Europe, and the USA nice and cold. Brewpub Birstrò recently opened around the corner. Expert local blog The Rome Digest keeps on top of the city's beer bars.

 

View holiday rentals in Rome

 
   
 

   

Buzzing Bars in Florence Buzzing Bars in Florence

Expats, students, and young locals keep Florence's bars buzzing almost all year—it's quieter in August, when many of the best places are closed. There are ten taps and countless bottles at Beer House Club, close to Santa Croce. There's more of an expat-student and backpacker vibe at Mostodolce: a traditional pub with their own beers on tap (brewed in nearby Prato), as well as happy-hour discounts and sports on several screens. Archea has the best selection south of the Arno.

View holiday homes in Florence

 
   
 

   

Local Brewers in Lucca Local Brewers in Lucca

 

The city is small, and with a distinctly genteel air about it, but brewing has a long history in Lucca. One of the town's landmarks—the Palazzo Pfanner, with its baroque gardens—was inhabited by an immigrant Bavarian brewer in the 19th century. The best local brewers are north of the town, towards the foothills of the Apennines. La Petrognola brews with farro, a mountain grain, instead of barley. The range at Bruton includes English-inspired bitter Lilith. De Cervesia, in the centre, has a constantly rotating trio of taps plus a well-stocked bottle fridge – Italian beers only. They also do take-out at fair prices.

View holiday lets in Lucca

 
   
 

   

Italy's Best Brewers: Piacenza Italy's Best Brewers: Piacenza

 

Visit north-west Emilia-Romagna to pay homage to one of Italy's best craft brewers. Brewfist was established in 2010, and has a reputation for forthright, no-compromises brewing – it's Italy's Brewdog, perhaps. The best places to try it are at Terminal 1, the brewery's own bar in Codogno, a short drive or train journey north of Piacenza. Parole di Birra has the best selection in the centre of Piacenza. Also in Piacenza itself, Tuxedo Beer House has 30 taps with beers from Denmark, Germany, and more (even the UK, if you're missing the taste of home). It's a lively spot, where the action goes till late. The town itself is well worth a visit on its own. Once an important member of the Lombard League—a medieval military alliance—it is graced with fine Gothic architecture and one of Italy's best Romanesque cathedrals.

View lettings in Piacenza

Images

Capital city beer: Open Baladin by Donald Strachan
Florence by eGuide Travel

Tuscan Holiday Homes

House / Villa - Firenze

In the heart of Florence, very quiet, every comfort Ideally completely renovated Possibility to reach the historic center on foot

BADIA A CORTE 15 / 12 Sleeps, Elegant Holiday Villa With Pool, Park, Patio, Immersed In The Tuscan Landscape Near Florence And Chianti

Situated on a hill and immersed in the unmistakable landscape of the green hills of Florentine Chianti, Badia a Corte is an old, cosy farmhouse dating back to the Middle Ages. The recent restructuring, undertaken with particular accuracy, has prov...

Great Value Recently Renovated & Restored Family Apartment With Pool And Garden

Restored in 2013, Villa Nonna is located in the lovely Val di Chio a few kilometres from the small medieval town of Castiglion Fiorentino - rich in history, in the heart of beautiful Tuscany. One of the first things you will notice here is the ve...

Apartment With Pool, Gardens And Access To Lake Tresimeno

Casa Astrale is a lovely apartment providing a perfect base to explore southern Tuscany and Umbria with' Private use of Pool'. It provides accommodation for 4-5 guests with one double bedroom, a single bedroom and a comfortable sofa bed in the s...

Great Value - Charming Family Home, Gardens, Views, Free Wifi,

A great opportunity to enjoy a family holiday in Tuscany, Set in the lovely countryside of the Val di Chio 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, Sleeps 6. Views of olive groves, Castelo Montechio and countryside. Casa Mariana is lovely private house in its o...

A Super Family Villa, Private Pool, Set Within An Organic Olive Grove,

Villa Wisteria - Authentic Country 4 bedroom Home Lovely Pool, Endless Scenery...... This is a place to enjoy an authentic Tuscan experience. Close to the historic town of Cortona and set in acres of olives and pastures - this beautiful 17t...

Tuscany-Brown Apartment with Garden- Siena Centre

Brown Apartment (2+3 pax) (80 mq) Brown apartment is a gem in the heart of Siena, close to the Church of San Niccolò al Carmine, the National Art gallery and the Botanic gardens. It is located in Siena centre, museums, Piazza del Campo, Cathedral...

4 people unit s with garden, swimming pool and wi-fi. Castiglion Fiorentino

IL RIO 4 beds Area 60 m2 Ground floor apartment suitable for disable persons, composed of sitting/dining room with kitchenette, double bedroom, twin bedroom, bathroom with shower and bath (suitable for disabled except for the shower). Pergola equi...

4 people apartment in the Chiantishire. Pool and wi-fi

PANFILO 4 Sleeps Area 78 m2 Apartment on two floors with entrance through portico equipped with table and chairs. GROUND FLOOR: sitting-dining room, kitchen, double bedroom and bathroom with shower. FIRST FLOOR: double bedroom and bathroom with sh...

Holiday villa. with private pool near Castiglion Fiorentino. High standard

GROUND FLOOR: Entrance from a porch, living room, kitchen-dining room with fireplace, bathroom with shower, twin bedroom. FIRST FLOOR: Double bedroom with small panoramic loggia, double bedroom, bathroom with shower. OUTBUILDING: A ground-floor li...

italyFrance Valle d'Aosta Piedmont Lombardia Lombardy Emilia Romagna Switzerland Trentino Alto Adige Austria Veneto-Venice Friuli Venezia Giulia Slovenia Slovenia Croatia Tuscany Marche Umbria Lazio Sardinia Abruzzo Molise Puglia Campania Basilicata Calabria Sicily Europe Stati Uniti World

 


Search for holiday rentals

Search for holiday ideas
 


Bank Holidays & School Holiday Breaks

 

Sign up to our newsletter

Our latest updates and special offers, direct to your inbox

Advertise with HomeAway

Related Articles


 

Other Categories



Popular Articles