The Best Damn Beer Tour in Italy; Hands Down
This week we ‘drag’ five beer lovers on our inaugural tour of some of northern Italy’s finest. Most of these breweries are closed to the public, but have been open to us. Climb in, have a seat and ride along on the best craft beer tour in Italy.
Our first day in Milano we visit the great Agostino Arioli at Birrificio Italiano. This was the first craft brewery in Italy to kickoff twenty-years of Europe’s best in craft beer. Agostino will, graciously, give us a tour and samples at his newer brewery. Thank you dearly, Agostino. Then he’ll join us for lunch at his original location. Oh, and did I mention we’re going to have beer, particularly the greatest, everest, pilsner in the world, the original Italian craft beer, Tipo Pils. Yeah, I said everest.
From Birrificio Italiano we tour Stefano Simonelli’s Birrificio Vetra. Stefano is a talented brewer, a student of the prodigious Agostino. Did I mention drinking beer here too?
We cap our first night at one of the four frontier breweries we will visit, Lambrate’s newer location for dinner pairing artisanal foods with artisanal beer.
The next morning, we head out of Milano in our Mercedes jet plane…well, not exactly; Mercedes Luxury 8 passenger van. We expand our horizons on Italian food at our first stop for lunch La Piadineria where they serve piadina. La Piadina is a flatbread, typical of the Romagna region. It’s the Italian taco to be crude about it. After lunch, we visit Birrificio Stradaregina for an exclusive tour of their barreled aged ales and lambics. Continuing on our way to Torino, we visit the great Valter Loverier at his tiny brewery, Loverbeer. Then we clean up for a 4th of July feast alla Torinese at Birrificio Grado Plato with the protégé brewer and one of the first craft beer publicans (he was only 19 years old), Gabriele Ormea. Our feast will include snail dishes, pastas made from spent worts used to make…wait for it…beer, deserts from their beehives all paired with Grado Plato’s line of beers.
We start Day 3 with a Torino traditional coffee called Bicerin, coffee made with chocolate, oh dear God, yes, chocolate, another great food of Torino. We will see one of the world’s (yes, world’s) finest brewer/blenders, Renzo Losi, who started Panil, then left to open Black Barrels in downtown Torino.
After letting our guests buy some of Italy’s best at Black Barrel’s bottle shop and sample Renzo’s God-given talents from his barrels downstairs in his blender’s cellar, we head to Baladin.
We will stretch our legs, get some sun at Baladin’s new, just-opened, 786,000 square-foot beer park, Open Garden (see the link for my Beer Advocate article). Along with the fresh bread made in a 17th century brick oven, we will have, you guessed it, beer. In particular, Baladin’s new beer Open Garden made and served only at the beer park’s brewery. We won’t eat too much because we will be having a chef’s beer and food pairing at Casa Baladin. Casa Baladin is an intimate and quaint B&B owned and built by Teo Musso, owner of Balaidin in the small square of Piozzo. Piozzo’s square is the size of a baseball diamond and the birthplace of Baladin and Teo. We only have to crawl upstairs, because Day 4 begins early.
A quick and special stop at an enoteca for our wine lover in the group, since we are in the Barolo/Barbaresco region. Then to drink from more barrels of another of Italy’s, and world’s for that matter, great brewers, Riccardo Franzosi at Montegioco. If you don’t know Montegioco, go right now to your bottle shop and request the Quarta Runa, a Belgian blonde made with local Volpedo peaches. Sam Calagione, founder of Dogfishhead Brewing, called it the Ferrari of peach beers. And that’s just one of the extraordinary beers Riccardo offers.
We move away from the Belgium styles to one of Italy’s great innovative breweries near Parma, Birrificio Brewfist. Pietro Di Pilato set a new standard in craft brewing in Italy with smaller bottles, pulling away from the traditional wine-like bottles that launched the movement. He also went with hoppy beers and a more American-tinged, brewery operation. After an exclusive tour and samples, we will have dinner at Terminal 1, Brewfist’s pub.
Day 5 starts with lunch at an osteria where the great composer, Giuseppe Verdi’s mother used to shop, located next door to his home now a museum. We head to another of Agostino’s students, Giovanni Campari, to tour Italy’s most award-winning brewery, Del Ducato. We jump back into our wagon for a quick jaunt to another innovator in the Italian craft beer scene, Toccalmatto’s Bruno Carilli. We finish our day with Bruno and leave our guests to their night in Parma with a list of suggestions.
Our last night brings us back to our lovely accommodations of Day 1, a few bottle shops to refill our coffers we certainly emptied in our van through the hills and valleys of northern Italy and dinner at one of the most progressive craft beer pubs in Italy located in central Milano, Nino Maiorano’s Lambiczoon. Lambiczoon has a full line of Italian craft beer as well as an A-list of Europe and America’s best. This will give our guests a chance to compare their new knowledge of Italian craft beer with the rest of the world.
Did I lie?
Still not convinced? Check in with us each night on our blogs at www.italybeertours.com, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the latest rundown of Italy’s greatest craft beer tour, Italy Beer Tours.
If you’re curious to know how we’re doing, besides the blog updates, you can tune into American Craft Beer Radio, Saturday at Noon (MST) on Mile High Sports Radio AM 1340 and FM 104.7 where we will call in to say hello live from Lambiczoon on Saturday, July 8th sometime between 12 and 1:00pm.