Quite a while back I read an article on Italian craft beer. It was probably from All About Beer magazine. The article basically claimed that the younger Italian generation seeks quality and innovation in all their food and drink including beer. A few years later, at a Philly beer event, I had a chance to chat with Carol Stoudt from Stoudt’s Brewery. One of the things she mentioned was to keep an eye out for Italian craft beer.
I haven’t come across any until recently. My local beer store has a few but the price is a bit high. A buddy of mine recently bought two bottles of Italian beers to coincide with an Italian dinner theme we were preparing. Remember the article I mentioned regarding the beer revolution in Italy? One of the things that stood out for me was the use of chestnuts in their ales. So, as I expected, both Italian beers included chestnut in one way or another.
Unless you are very new to craft beer or live in Antarctica, you have heard of or have tried one of the many ancient ales from Dogfish Head Brewery. A recent and quiet addition to the Ancient Ale Series was Birra Etrusca Bronze, another Dr.Pat McGovern collaboration along with Birreria Brother Brewers Leo DeVencenzo of Birra del Borgo and Teo Musso of Baladin.
Birra Etrusca Bronze ingredients include hazelnut flour, pomegranates, Italian chestnut honey, Delaware wildflower honey and clover honey, a handful of whole-flower hops, gentian root and Ethiopian myrrh resin.
So why the chestnuts? First of all, Italy, along with other mediterranean regions, ranks among the top chestnut producers in the world. So like chefs and bakers, brewers find ways to use what is readily available.
Brewers also find creative and practical ways to utilize chestnuts in beer, from chestnut honey, chestnut flour and even chestnut smoked malt. Chestnut flour also provides a gluten-free aternative.
If you can’t find Italian chestnut ales, don’t worry. American brewers are following the same trend and incorporating chestnuts in many ways.
Were you aware of the Italian craft beer scene and have you tried any chestnut inspired brews?