A beer revolution has been under way in Italy. Micro breweries have been springing up for around twenty years and the good news is not only is Italian beer great but it’s becoming more accessible here in the UK.
In the past I have enjoyed Italian beer at Ham Holy Burger located on the third floor of John Lewis in Oxford Street. If like me you enjoy burgers, you will love the food at Ham and there is an interesting selection of beers from two breweries, Baladin in the North West of Italy and Birra del Borgo based in Borgorose – a small village between Lazio and the Abruzzo region.
With my burger I had Birra del Borgo’s Keto Reporter which is a great porter made all the more interesting by the addition of tobacco.
It is worth mentioning that owner of Baladin and Italian craft beer pioneer Teo Musso is responsible along with another top Italian beer expert Lerenzo Dabov, nicknamed Kuaska for creating the TeKu glass. The TeKu is shaped to allow the aroma of the beer to hit your nose and the taste to be at it’s optimum.
I have also enjoyed Italian beer at the GBBF – see my blog on this year’s GBBF, and I have bought bottles of Italian beer from Beer Boutique in Putney which is a handy fifteen minute stroll from my office.
Now I happen to know that the Italian beers I bought from Beer Boutique are supplied by Beers of Italy, a London based supplier of Italian craft beer set up by Andrea Mancuso.
Eager to promote Italian beer Andrea and his team got together with Italian Beer Sommelier Jacopo Mazzeo and Tozi Restaurant and Bar, in London’s Victoria to hold an Italian beer lunch last week. Having attended this wonderful event I feel obliged to share my findings with you all so that you too can discover the joy of Italian beer.
The featured brewery of the lunch was Opperbacco, a micro brewery in the Abruzzo region of Italy, founded by Luigi Recchiuti, a graduate of Agricultural Science who started off as an enthusiastic home brewer.
Often using locally sourced ingredients such as honey, the Opperbacco range is comprehensive with interesting hybrids and collabs.
We started with a lovely salad of roast fennel, carrots, beans and spelt, along with Calamari paired with Opperbacco’s 4 punto 7. With Simcoe, Columbus, Amarillo, Perle and Saphir
hops this beer although inspired by a German larger Jacopo told us resembles British ale.
With grass notes in the nose and a light malty, grassy taste this was a great beer to start with.
We moved on to Tripping Flowers. Named after a rock band also from the Abruzzo region, Tripping Flowers contains local flowers and honey. Orange in colour, the flowers and honey
are detectable in the nose. This is a fresh tasting beer that manages to combine sweetness with malt. Paired with Crab Ravioli in a creamy tomato and basil sauce Tripping flowers uses it’s petals to slice through the sauce beautifully!
Next up the Eipiei paired with Aubergine Parmigiana, a satisfying dose of Italian comfort food which the beer complemented. Served as all the beers were in a TeKu glass, Eipiei is bronze with a foamy head, hops hit the nose and the tongue gripped by dry hoppiness.
We then moved on to the Buffalo Ricotta Ravioli with Black Truffle, a wonderful earthy dish served with L’una rossa, an amber beer with coconut and cherry notes. The earthiness of the truffle gave the L’una rossa a slightly sour note and I have to say I preferred the L’una rossa paired with the pork cheeks served with Cavolo Nero and mash that we were treated to next. The fruit notes in the beer complemented the pork beautifully.
Next came the cheese and oh what a cheese it was! Cow cheese with Barolo grapes. This cheese is dense like cheddar and not at all crumbly. A layer of grapes gives the cheese
amazing subtly fruit notes.
Paired with this amazing cheese was Triplipa. A gold beer with a creamy lacy head and a nose of pear drops and yeast. This pairing worked really well as Triplipa is a slightly sour, dry beer. The carbonation cut through the cheese and left my palate ready for more!
Finally we were treated to a hit of chocolate with a Coffee and Amaretto Bonet. A gorgeous chocolate dessert with a mousse-like consistency. This little piece of chocoholics heaven was paired with my favourite beer of the lunch Dieci e Lode. A dark beer with a mild coffee nose – I knew this was a good sign. Dieci e Lode is a rich warming beer but maintains a lightness. A wonderful beer to sup slowly.
The food at Tozi was amazing. Head chef Maurilio Molteni has in the past worked with Antonio Carluccio so I knew it would be good but and every dish we had was wonderful.
All the beers were perfectly at home with the food demonstrating the wonderful flexibility of beer as a companion to food.