Greetings, fellow beer aficionados! While Italy is renowned for its exquisite wines, mouth-watering cuisine, and breathtaking landscapes, another facet of the Italian way of life is capturing attention – the enticing realm of Italian beer brands.
To help us navigate the best Italian beers and introduce you to some amazing Italian beer brands, we’ve invited our friend Luciano, an Italian beer expert and connoisseur, to share his favorites and recommendations with us.
Italy’s brewing scene has been thriving, with many passionate and dedicated brewers crafting exceptional beers, celebrating the country’s rich history, and showcasing regional flavors.
From the crisp, refreshing lagers of the north to the complex, aromatic ales of the south, Italian beer has something for everyone, whether you’re a casual drinker or a seasoned beer aficionado.
Recommended Reading: Savor the flavors of Italy with our guide to the best Italian pasta brands.
Discovering the Best Italian Beer Brands: Luciano’s Expert Tour Through Italy’s Finest Brews
In this article, our friend Luciano will take us on a mouth-watering journey through Italy’s best beers, revealing hidden gems and beloved classics that every beer lover should try.
He’ll share fascinating stories behind these brands, their brewing techniques, and what makes them unique additions to the beer world.
So, without further ado, let’s embark on this exciting adventure and indulge in the diverse, flavorful world of Italian beer. Get ready to uncover some of the best Italian beers you’ve never heard of and add new favorites to your must-try list.
Whether planning a trip to Italy or simply expanding your beer palate, this guide is for you. Enter Luciano.
1. Peroni Nastro Azzurro
With over 175 years of brewing expertise, Peroni beer has become a key player in the global market and the most popular beer from Italy worldwide. Out of all their offerings, Nastro Azzurro holds a special place in my heart. Brewed in 1963, this beer boasts a distinctive, invigorating taste, with a citrusy aroma and a dazzling golden hue akin to Prosecco.
Peroni Nastro Azzurro’s rich legacy is evident in the meticulous craftsmanship and attention to detail that go into its brewing process. The beer has recently rebranded, drawing inspiration from its authentic Italian roots and storied past.
The updated bottle features elegant curves and contours, proudly showcasing the engraved signature of co-founder Giovanni Peroni. This refined design perfectly complements the beer’s status as a premium choice worldwide.
Each sip of Peroni Nastro Azzurro delivers a refreshing experience, striking a delicate equilibrium between its bitterness and subtle citrus notes. With a 5.1% alcohol content, this lager is crisp, invigorating, and beautifully golden in color.
Regardless of the setting or occasion, Peroni Nastro Azzurro is the perfect companion for any beer lover, whether you’re in Italy or elsewhere around the globe. So next time you search for a drink to elevate your experience, don’t hesitate to try this timeless classic.
And, in case you’re wondering, the name Peroni Nastro Azzurro originates from the blue ribbon accolade given to the vessel capable of traversing the Atlantic Ocean in the shortest duration.
2. Peroni Gran Riserva
As a fan of Italian beers, I couldn’t resist trying Peroni Gran Riserva, a creation from Peroni, Italy’s oldest and most renowned brewery, founded in 1844 by Francesco Peroni. Peroni is celebrated globally for its bold, flavorful beers that stand out in a country predominantly known for its wine production.
In 1996, Peroni introduced Gran Riserva in honor of their 150th-anniversary milestone. Brewed in Rome, the heart of Italy, Gran Riserva incorporates Saaz hops and Prisma barley malt.
After an eight-week maturation process, the result is a delightful copper-hued beer, balancing sweet and tangy flavors and leaving traces of caramel and toffee on your palate.
With a pleasant alcohol content of 5.1%, Gran Riserva quickly gained popularity upon its release. As the Peroni brewery’s standard line of beers is presented in globally recognizable bottles, Gran Riserva, a part of the Peroni family of beers, pays tribute to Italy’s classic method of serving beer – in petite, elongated wine-style bottles.
Having experienced Peroni Gran Riserva firsthand, I can attest to its exceptional taste and unique presentation, making it a must-try for beer lovers everywhere.
3. Birra Moretti
Established in 1859 in Udine, a charming city in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region, Birra Moretti soon transcended its local roots to become an emblem of Italy itself.
Founder Luigi Moretti hailed from a prominent family of affluent merchants who were deeply involved in the trade of grains, wine, spirits, and food.
With a vision to create distinctive regional Italian beers, Birra Moretti embarked on an ambitious journey, producing unique varieties inspired by regions like Sicily, Piedmont, Tuscany, and Puglia.
In 1996, Heineken Italia acquired Birra Moretti, making it a part of the Dutch Heineken group. While this means Birra Moretti is no longer officially an Italian beer, its rich heritage, tradition, and unparalleled flavor remain cherished globally.
Today, the production of various Moretti beers, including Moretti, Baffo d’Oro, La Rossa, Doppio Malto, Zero, and Gran Cru, is spread across Heineken’s four facilities in Italy: Assemini, Comun Nuovo, Massafra, and Pollein.
The brand’s most recognizable symbol is the mustachioed man featured on its label, instantly evoking memories of its Italian roots. My experience with Birra Moretti reaffirms the brand’s enduring appeal, showcasing its exquisite taste that continues to delight beer lovers worldwide.
4. Menabrea Beer
As a beer aficionado, I’ve enjoyed sampling the timeless Menabrea beer, a historical Italian beer brand crafted by the eponymous company in Biella, Piedmont.
Established in 1846, the company adopted its current name in 1872 after Giuseppe Menabrea acquired it, later passing it on to Augusto Antoniotti and Emilio Thedy. The Thedy family maintained control until 1991, when the Forst group took over.
Today, the Forst group produces approximately 110,000 hectoliters of beer under the Menabrea brand, exporting a portion to 25 countries worldwide.
Over its century-and-a-half-long journey, Menabrea has garnered numerous prestigious accolades, a testament to the indisputable quality of its offerings.
Additionally, the company houses a beer museum showcasing a collection of historical relics that trace the evolution of beer production techniques over the years.
Among Menabrea Brewery’s diverse offerings, the Bionda Lager stands out as a fan favorite. The Bionda Lager is delicately matured in cave cellars, providing the perfect temperature for optimal taste and clarity.
With a 4.8% alcohol content, this harmonious blend of fruity, citrus, and floral notes offers a pleasant, light-drinking experience accentuated by subtle bitterness and an intricate malt and hop profile.
I can attest to the exceptional flavor and craftsmanship that go into creating these distinct Menabrea beers, which continue to captivate the palates of beer enthusiasts worldwide, and for a good reason.
5. Birra Poretti
I had the opportunity to visit the renowned Birrificio Angelo Poretti (Angelo Poretti Brewery), founded initially as Poretti Brewery by Angelo Poretti himself in 1876 in Induno Olona.
In 1973, the Danish Carlsberg group acquired the brewery, eventually obtaining full ownership in 2002. In 2007, the historic brewery underwent a massive marketing operation, rebranding itself as the Angelo Poretti Brewery.
My visit to the brewery was an unforgettable experience. Beer enthusiasts like myself can explore the museum near the production plant, offering an immersive journey through the brewery’s history.
The tour begins at the Cooking Room, the heart of the production process. It continues through the scenic park where Villa Magnani, the founder’s grandson’s stunning Art Nouveau residence, stands. Of course, the visit includes a beer-tasting session featuring the brewery’s diverse offerings, culminating in a stop at the Brewery shop.
What struck me most about the Angelo Poretti Brewery were its key strengths. The master brewers excel in selecting and combining over 300 hop varieties worldwide, a skill passed down through generations. This artistry has led to the creation of unique recipes that set the brand apart.
The brewery’s retro-style, distinctly Italian labels emphasize its rich history and showcase the number of hops used in different variants, from the classic 3-hop lager to the sophisticated 10-hop beer that evokes the elegance of sparkling wine.
Angelo Poretti beers stand out for their exceptional value for money, offering premium quality at an attractive price, which appeals to both consumers and retailers. The brewery’s diverse range features some of the most popular types of beer, each showcasing unique flavors, potency, and scent.
This variety is a testament to the master brewers’ expertise in combining different hops, including a distinctive Italian variety, and skillfully blending local ingredients. I highly recommend visiting the Birrificio Angelo Poretti and sampling its diverse, high-quality offerings for a truly memorable experience.
6. Birra Del Borgo Cortigiana
Birra Del Borgo, a small craft brewery established in 2005, is renowned for its innovative brewing techniques and bold flavor experiments. Among their intriguing beer offerings, Birra Del Borgo Cortigiana truly stands out.
In crafting Cortigiana, the brewery incorporates a variety of grains alongside traditional ingredients. During brewing, spices like ginger, coriander, and orange peel are introduced, further enhancing the beer’s complexity.
The resulting brew boasts a rich, invigorating flavor with subtle cinnamon, vanilla, and citrus notes. Cortigiana is an ideal companion for fish dishes or simply as a refreshing aperitif.
By blending oat flakes and wheat cereals into Cortigiana’s recipe, Birra Del Borgo elevates the beer’s character, including ginger, coriander, and orange peel, adds a distinctive touch, making it a memorable and delightful experience for beer aficionados.
7. Ichnusa Beer
I’ve always been fascinated by Ichnusa, one of the most famous Italian beer brands. With a history spanning over a century, Ichnusa carries the ancient name of Sardinia, the island it proudly represents.
Founded in Cagliari in 1912, the brewery relocated to Assemini in 1963, introducing several innovations, including Italy’s first cylindrical and vertical fermentation tanks.
In 1986, Dutch brewing giant Heineken acquired Ichnusa. Despite the acquisition, the beer continues to be exclusively brewed in the Assemini facility.
Crafted from pure barley malt, Ichnusa is a full-bodied beer with a subtle bitter note in its finish. The brew incorporates light barley malt and caramel barley malt, creating a unique blend that exudes Sardinia’s herbaceous and exotic aromas. With an alcohol content of 4.7%, Ichnusa is a delightful representation of its homeland.
In celebration of its centenary, Ichnusa introduced Ichnusa Cruda, an unpasteurized light beer with a bold flavor. This special edition further showcases the brewery’s dedication to preserving and promoting the rich heritage of Sardinia.
8. Birra Montegioco Quarta Runa
As someone passionate about beers, I’m always looking for unique flavors. Birra Montegioco Quarta Runa certainly delivers for those who appreciate fruity beers.
Birra Montegioco, a microbrewery in Piedmont, Italy, is renowned for its specialty beers that have gained popularity in international markets. They produce an array of barley-based wines and sour ales with eye-catching packaging that is hard to miss on any liquor store shelf. Adorned with vibrant, twisted paper, their bottles resemble playful piñatas for grown-ups.
Quarta Runa, their standout offering, boasts a 7% alcohol content and is brewed with the enticing aroma of locally sourced baked peaches. The fragrant peach notes are unmistakable, alongside hints of spices and baked fruits.
9. Forst Beer
I appreciate breweries that capitalize on their unique surroundings, and Forst is no exception. Nestled near the Alps, Forst brews exceptional beer using some of the world’s purest water.
Established in 1857, the family-owned Forst brewery produces two standout beers: a premium lager and the Sixtus doppelbock. Both are crafted with top-notch Italian ingredients, resulting in layered and intricate flavor profiles.
While the name “Forst” may not immediately suggest an Italian origin, the brewery is indeed located in Bolzano, a bilingual region in Italy. Forst offers an array of both dark and light beers to suit varied tastes.
For those looking to sample a Forst beer, the Forst Premium Lager is a popular choice. With an alcohol content of 4.8%, this lager boasts a harmonious balance between hops and malts, offering a notably aromatic fragrance and a lasting, adherent head.
10. Castello Beer
Birra Castello, a bottom-fermented premium beer, offers a delightful balance of flavors, making it a versatile choice for any occasion.
With its medium alcohol content, Castello provides a rich and well-rounded taste. A subtle hint of hops and a beautiful golden hue complete the beer’s profile, making it a true pleasure to enjoy.
This European pale lager boasts just the right amount of sweetness without becoming too overpowering. For an optimal drinking experience, I recommend serving it chilled.
Birra Castello is a proud subsidiary of the renowned Birra Moretti, maintaining the same high-quality standards that have made its parent company a favorite among beer lovers. Enjoy this exceptional beer with a full meal or as a satisfying after-dinner treat.
11. Birrificio del Ducato
Birrificio del Ducato began their craft beer adventure in 2007, nestled in Roncole Verdi di Busseto, Parma, Emilia-Romagna, Italy. Quickly gaining recognition, the brewery earned numerous accolades in various national and international beer competitions.
Thanks to their high-quality offerings, they’ve become the most awarded Italian brewery worldwide. In 2015, they relocated to a new facility in Soragna, where their primary beer lines are now produced.
One standout offering for fans of high-gravity beer is their Verdi Imperial Stout. This imperial stout boasts an 8.2% ABV and is a full-bodied beer featuring licorice, chocolate, and tobacco notes. It perfectly complements chocolate treats, blue cheeses, and delectable dry pastries.
12. Messina Beer
Hailing from Sicily, Birra Messina is a celebrated beer crafted with meticulous attention and passion. The master brewers handpick only the finest ingredients to create this classic recipe.
As a lager beer, Birra Messina boasts a respectable 4.7% alcohol content. Its vibrant golden hue embodies the spirit and traditions of its Sicilian origins.
The beer’s taste profile is genuinely refreshing, featuring a harmonious blend of bitterness and a dry finish. Savor the delightful aroma of malts and hops as you enjoy this crisp and satisfying beverage.
Discover the Flavorful World of Italian Beer Brands: A Toast to Italy’s Brewing Heritage
To sum up, our exploration of the wide range of beers from Italian beer brands has been a thrilling and delectable voyage.
We’ve delved into numerous delicious beer options, each showcasing distinct attributes and representing Italy’s deep-rooted brewing legacy. These most popular Italian beers cater to every preference, from refreshing lagers to robust ales.
As we’ve seen, Italy’s passion for crafting high-quality beers is evident in the artistry and dedication of its brewers. These Italian beer brands represent the country’s love for good food, drink, and the simple pleasure of enjoying life’s finest moments with friends and family.
I hope you’ve found inspiration in this list to try some of the best Italian beers and share your discoveries with fellow beer enthusiasts. Let’s continue celebrating the Italian way of life, one sip at a time. Salute!