Oh, the merry beers of Christmas. Those fantastic brews spiced with Christmas love. For Italy, the idea of a Christmas beer only dates back to the late 1990s. Think about that. Christmas originated in Italy, yet the Christmas beer and all its cheer didn’t arrive until the end of the 20th century.
Here is a list of some of the great Italian Christmas beers you can find in the US that might brighten the holiday spirits.
Noel from Baladin is probably the first Italian Christmas beer. Brewed by one of the pioneers of the Italian craft beer movement, Teo Musso. This gem of a Belgium Quad was so delicious that Teo decided to keep this Christmas beer year round by changing the name to Leon (Noel backwards). Each year, the Noel is brought back but with a little surprise like vanilla or coffee and a lot of the Christmas spirit.
Moreno Ercolani from L’Olmaia, located near Montepulciano, distinguishes himself with his Christmas beer cloned from his home brewing days. It’s an 8.5% delight called Christmas Duck.
“In our little territory here when someone’s drunk you say in our dialect, he’s ducked. La Nana, is Tuscan for the Italian word, l’annatra, the duck. The expression derives from the way someone walks after they’ve had too many drinks. It’s the drunk of Christmas or the Christmas Duck.”
It still blows our mind that Valter Loverier’s beers reach us all the way out here in the US. Loverbeer’s small operation brewed 160 barrels of beer in 2013. We don’t imagine it’s grown much since then. With a passion for Flemish style beer, every batch is barreled aged and made with love. Drawing on this old Flemish beer style, A Renna Glueh brings the Christmas spirits by way of the gluhkriek and gluhwein, which is a mulled wine. Taking from the base of D’uvabeer, a sour/wild beer made with wine must, Valter adds winter spices, cinnamon, cloves, star anise and orange peel to help you be merry and warm during the holidays.
From Roncole Verdi where the maestro, Giuseppe Verdi was born, Italy’s most award-winning brewer, Giovanni Campari, honors Giuseppe Verdi’s second wife, “the sour wife”. Drawing inspiration from Belgian styles, Krampus Riserva Strepponi features nine different spices in a sour package by way of wild yeasts, brettanomyces and lactic bacteria. Krampus is then aged for 12 months.
“I created Krampus Riserva Strepponi a few years ago when I decided to use Brettanomyces, Bruxellensis and Lactobacillus strains for the secondary fermentation in bottle. The first batch was far from encouraging; it smelled like prescription drugs, acid yogurt and salami mold. We stored it meaning to dispose of it and forgot all about it. Then, during a hot summer day, Maso (at the time assistant brewer) presented me with a blind taste test. I was taken by surprise: a well balanced mix of aromas of rust, lactic, leather, cherries, fruit candies, anise, citron, balsamic and cola with a sour finish. It painted a big smile on our faces.”
Two breweries bring you their own original versions of a Belgium Strong Ale. From the northwest we come to Turin, a hub for the Italian craft beer scene where most of craft breweries are found. Troll’s Stella di Natale clocks in at 10.5%, while Pausa Café brings their Navidad at 8%.
Grado Plato’s Gabriele Ormea decided to go more British with his English bareleywine Kukumerla at 10%. That’s sure to bring the caroling out of ya.
So if you're looking for something original, unique and delicious for your Christmas party or just for your own holiday cheer, look to the old country for something new.
Buone Feste e Cin Cin