Then something completely out of the blue happens. I have known for some time that Italian craft beer is coming on strong, hell it better, I was getting sick of going to see the family and being stuck with the Doppio Malto’s, or a limited range of Belgians.
Ok, so, I come from Italian stock, my mum is Italian. She’s been living in the northern city of Parma ever since we sold our family pub. In the meantime, Italian brewing has come on leaps and bounds. Local to Parma, of course known for its incredible cheeses and salami, has a great wine heritage, beyond the much maligned Lambrusco and Guturnios styles, just where was the beer? Over these last few years, breweries such as Panil with their crazy barrel aged Barrique of which ever label you got be that Sour, Medium Sour or non sour, styled in the Flemish red with all manner of bugs and critters. The Setembre, a hybrid grape and beer beverage. The completely spontaneous Divina, a lambic-esque sour hazy gold brew. These beers not only grabbed my attention, but many beer lovers around the world. Perhaps Italy, along with the likes of Baladin, the most known of Italian breweries with the crazy Theo Musso at the helm, were really making waves.
Here I was heading down to Italy somewhat often, as the dutiful son does, with more and more beers popping up on my horizons. Heading into Parma with cousins, to the very beer centric bar, the Highlander, I saw their range transition from Belgian and Germans, to many more exciting albeit Belgianesque brews. Having no hard brewing heritage, I believe not only given them a platform of experimentation with no interference from the style guru’s, but a chance to learn, find their feet and I now see, their running shoes.
A recent trip in to see my mother, I arrived at the house, a plate of pasta was rustled up, a nice looking 75cl was presented at the table. Ok, this’ll be fun, rolling the bottle around reading the label in my now broken italian. Ok, this sounds more than a little fun. Prying the crown cork of the champagne bottle, a big waft of brassy hops followed the genies tail from the bottle. Wait, what? “Mum, where did you get this?!”, “oh, down in the town…” she said nonchalantly.
A glass filled, brought to nose, was a delight, this bad boy was called Rude Boy.
This was a solid beer, bright, honest, and clean. My bed was fast coming that night. Something about being so high about sea level that after being down here by the sea all the time, just makes you sleep so heavy.
The following morning, back into the car, down the mountain side, there I was at the brewery. In time, the full range of beers were opened, with the Sibilia, a french Style Saison really cleaning up.
Here I was, with a brewer who not only could brew sound English style ale, turns out he’s a big fan, Belgian and French style brews that just rock, but the crown that day was the Surfin Hop.
The second time I opened a bottle was with friends from California, and @terry_tibbs. Said friends and Angelo were blown away. Big bright brassy citrus notes. It’s a great beer! Certainly my new European beer of the year, albeit of a completely west coast style.
On a closing note, It’s rare, genuinely rare that I bump into a brewery brave enough to brew a diversity of national styles, who does them well, and is also willing to have a go at something different, adding this and that to some of their brews. The Elderflower Wit was a summer dream, the Jadis is delightful, the skitzoid, crazy bright american hops. This is one of the best breweries in the world, right now.
Here you are dear reader with the best brewery that I had never heard of.