“Buongiorno! Ciao! Benvenuto to Chuck and Dave’s Faves!
As some of you may already know, I recently returned home after a fantastic trip to Italy. Many pizzas were eaten, ancient ruins and historic sites explored, and one or two bottles of wine consumed. On top of all of that, I also took it upon myself to research the beer scene in Italy, in order to assess the quality and to compare the differences of styles on offer (for science).
The very first beer that I ordered in Italy was Peroni Nastro Azzurro. Italy’s own mass-produced light domestic lager is more comparable in flavor to European counterparts than our own domestic light beers. It has a bit more malt and yeast character and a very mild touch of hop bitterness. Peroni proved to be a very refreshing beer while in Rome on the warmer days!
During my time in Rome, I also discovered that there is a budding craft beer scene. The more common seem to be various blonde ales and lighter styles of lagers. There is also a growing popularity of American craft beer styles like hazy/juicy IPAs, and even a few red IPAs. The particular IPAs that I tried seemed to have less hop bitterness when it was needed, and the New England IPAs lacked the extra juicy quality that would be indicative of the style. They may not have been quite as flavorful as what we have available here, but were still very solid and enjoyable. I believe now that the future of craft beer in Rome is actually quite promising.
After eating and drinking our way through Rome, we traveled north to Tuscany to visit Florence, and then Cinque Terre on the west coast. Being less populated and less trendy in these areas than the bustling city of Rome, craft beer opportunities seemed to be a bit slimmer and harder to find. However, my resolve was strong and I persisted to find the local flavors of beer. I searched far and wide for more IPAs, but finally had to settle for styles of beer that I generally don’t drink as much. I found some golden ales, a few saisons, and a few beers in the realm of amber ales. The beers that I did try were certainly not bad, but it turns out that Tuscany and Cinque Terre are known more for their wine than beer. Shocking!
Finally, for the last leg of our trip, we traversed to Val Gardena in northern Italy, at the base of the Dolomites. The area is only 60 miles or so south of the Austrian border, and the influences of being so close to Austria were immediately clear. For the first time while in Italy, I found several options for dark and malty beers. Belgian dubbel, dunkelweizen, stout… the list goes on. I tried a handful of darker beers, in order to expand my palate beyond the flavors of golden ales and IPAs that I had available to me earlier. All of these beers that I had were truly solid and full of flavor, with recipes that, in some cases, may have even been hundreds of years old. The quality of these specific styles of beers spoke to the influences of the countries that border Italy to the north.
I could go on and on about the specifics of the flavors of what I tried, and about our experiences in Italy, but I will stop myself now before I end up with a novel!
Swing on by sometime soon and tell me about some of your own adventures!” – Charlie Poehls, Senior Brewery Lead