It’s probably safe to make the claim that America’s faith in the tried and true was rocked today with the news that Anheuser-Busch has been adding water to a number of its beers, including Budweiser, Michelob, Natural Ice, and Bud Light Platinum. And let’s face it, it’s not like we were all shocked by the news. After the scandal of Taco Bell’s “beef” a couple of years back, stories of cheating the system have popped up everywhere, from olive oil that is in fact mostly not to “fillers” in cafeteria chicken nuggets. Yet in this wave of disheartening new outbreaks, there are also breakthroughs, as the craft of artisan food and drink making is ever on the rise, and one of the hubs of the buzz concerning beer is Italy.
Italy has traditionally not been well known for its brews, with its wine hogging the spotlight and Germany and Austria’s strong Brauhaus tradition overshadowing the boot’s limited attempts. Yet in the last few years, the country who is known for its artisan food and wine has also been making strides in the bubbly bread that Americans love…and this isn’t your grocery store shelf’s watered-down beer.
Small breweries across Italy have been popping up around the country, and they are becoming evermore available for tourists and interested visitors to stop in to check them out. Some major cities, such as Rome, have organized events surrounding the crafted specialties, such as this pub crawl in Rome. Larger festivals have also seen a significant increase, such as the Italia Beer Festival taking place in Rome, Milan, and Bologna from March 22-24, which even dedicates a section to gluten-free beer, or next week’s countrywide Settimana della Birra Artigianale (website here in Italian).
The taste? Far from the water-filled Bud at your local 7-11. Much like the signature wines of the country, these craft beers reflect Italy, it’s earth, and its prominent flavors, and can be paired with a number of the traditional dishes. Pizza and beer, anyone? Only if it’s Italian.
Have you tried any artisan Italian beers? What struck you the most about them?