Italian beer culture

bеер-morettiIf it were not for the title of this post you would have never been able to answer this simple question: “Which fermented beverage is the most popular in Italy?” Do you insist on saying that it is wine? No. The beverage of choice for most Italians is actually beer. The reasons for that are manifold.

It has been said that beer made civilization possible. Quite simply, consumption of raw water by large masses of population leads to decease and death. Beer has just enough alcohol to make drinking safe, even in warmer climates. Although beer has “an acquired taste,” every civilization that adopted this fermented drink enjoyed prolonged periods of growth and prosperity. Similarly, beer has been well known on the Italian peninsula in ancient times. It appears, however, that beer making culture declined with the decline of the Roman Empire. The problem was that Italy is such an great place to grow vines! It is also possible that beer became associated with barbarians who indeed were much more accustomed to beer, because wine was more difficult to make in northern regions of Europe. Thus, Italy was sent on a long wine-loving trend. Although beer never disappeared from Italy, only in the 1990s the country witnessed a true beer renaissance. The main players in this development were, you guessed it, Italian microbreweries.

Not surprising, Italians put their own spin on beer. Italian drafts are very food-centered. Beans, nuts, fruits, berries, herbs, vegetables, spices — these are the ingredients you will often find in locally brewed beers in Italy. Competitions are held were the only beers present are chestnut-based (probably a very unique kind of beer, found mostly in Italy).

Many of the newly converted beer enthusiasts in Italy are actually former (or present) wine-makers. They often create beers that are influenced by wine in many ways. For instance, some people make beer in barrels that used to hold wine.

Beer brewing in Italy is a lucrative industry that thrives on ingenuity and originality. Italian beer has not yet peaked in a sense that the technical expertise is often lacking. Brewers may not be always able to capitalize on their serendipitous discoveries, which prevents them going big. However, the future of Italian beer making seems very bright.

See also:

Italian spices
Italian wine etiquette.
Italian toasts for every occasion.

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