Everyone knows Italy has some of the finest wines in the world…but don’t ignore the artisanal beers
A new day has dawned for Italian beer, as a unique class of artisans drastically changes the landscape of the country’s brews.
Italian interest in craft beer can be traced to the late 1970s, according to Luca Giaccone, Italy’s foremost beer expert and author of Slow Food’s Guida alle Birre d’Italia. As beers started to arrive from Germany, Belgium and England, Italians became enamored with their novelty and diverse taste. Early enthusiasts began making pilgrimages to the legendary breweries of northern Europe, filling their suitcases with bottles and their minds with inspiration. “What happened next was rapid evolution,” Giaccone says.
While a majority of microbreweries and beer-centric restaurants are in northern Italy, Rome has become Italy’s craft beer capital, attracting the best of the culture, putting it on display and making it accessible to a wide audience.
The small scale production of artisanal brewers, however, results in relatively high costs, which explains why 25oz bottles of Italian craft brew can cost between $25 and $60 at restaurants in American cities—as much as the price of a bottle of wine.
“What I tell people who complain about the prices is, you’re paying for some of the best beers on the planet,” says Allen Arthur, of New York City’s Birreria. The roof-top restaurant at Eataly draws large crowds for its bottled and house-made Italian craft beer. “In my opinion, some of these beers really are the best. I can’t think of any best bottles of wine on the planet that go for $25.”