From May 14 – 17, the coastal city of Genoa in northern Italy will once again host Slow Fish, Slow Food’s international event dedicated to sustainable fishing and a celebration of the diversity of fishing and culinary cultures found around the Mediterranean. As always, the Beer Piazza will be a hub at the event, next to the street area, giving visitors the chance to experience the uncommon pairing of seafood with beer.
We normally think about paring white wine with fish, but fish dishes can pair splendidly with the right beer: Sarde in saor, for example, a sweet and sour fish dish from Veneto, pairs well with a bitter beer, like a pale ale or bitter stout, giving a great flavor contrast. Poached or baked fish can pair with a bottom-fermented beer such as a lager or pilsner, while grilled fish with a stronger flavor will pair well with a fuller bodied and well-structured beer that can handle it, such as an ale.
This year the Slow Fish Beer Piazza is even more impressive. Some of Italy’s best artisanal beer will be on offer, as selected in our Guida alle birre d’Italia. To whet your appetite here’s a look at the breweries attending.
Beba – Villar Perosa (Piedmont)
The Borio brothers are an important part of the story of Italian beer. Their way of living and working is unique and doesn’t allow for compromises: no pasteurization, no filtration, environmentally conscious choices, and also anti-economic, such as the example of returnable bottles. The trademarks of their beers are bottom fermentation and balance. Creating pleasant and drinkable beer has always been one of Sandro and Enrico’s main objectives, and they never cease to achieve ever-higher levels of quality and enviable consistency.
Birrificio El Issor – Sassello (Liguria)
Luca Rossi is a whirlwind: always busy with work whether he’s brewing, cleaning the drums, making deliveries to customers or participating in fairs and events. He is relentless in searching for new ingredients, spices and features to add to his beer. He works alongside his wife Cristina, who helps in the running of the operation.
Birrificio Jeb – Trivero (Piedmont)
Chiara Baù, brewer and heart and soul of the company, has a long history of home brewing behind her. In 2008, she finally began a family business dedicated to the activity. Straightforward and determined she possesses the necessary passion to drive a project in which she is involved in all of its phases: from the production to local management, future planning to events. The extensive line of beers is linked more to Chiara’s personal taste than stylistic inspirations. The key to her beer is spring water as well as the vast range of quality ingredients: barley malt; cereals such as oats, wheat and spelt; roasted chestnuts for the Castagna beer; spices used in the Cometa and the Brulé; cardamom and sweet orange zest in the Saison n° 5, to name a few. This mixing is Chiara’s trump card, which also takes pairing with food into consideration.
Birrificio Kauss – Piasco (Piedmont)
The Kauss Brewery was established with the will and passion of three young partners: Luigi Cagioni, Diego Botta and Ivan Lodini. Luigi is also a homebrewer with a great deal of experience (he brewed his first beer in 1997), having completed a degree in food and agricultural technology – with a thesis, needless to say, on beer – and an intensive training course in a brewery in the Black Forest. Kauss offers three bottom-fermented beers, and two seasonal top-fermented beers. None of the beers are re-fermented and all are loosely based on the main German styles. Their range brings out the best of the raw materials used: Bamberg malt, European hops and seasonal kilometer-zero wheat. The objective: a beer that is easy to drink, but full of personality.
Birrificio Legnone – Dubino (Lombardy)
Malted barley, top quality hops, sustainable production methods, unfiltered and unpasteurized… but it is the water that makes the difference. It is part of the secret recipe that in 2012 allowed brewer David Cesari to found the Birrificio Legnone in Valtellina, near a source yielding unique characteristics. In fact the water from the source has a low fixed residue and doesn’t require physico-chemical correction. Instead it just needs to be tasted, from the lager varieties and the “Birra del Conte” blanche, to the dark “Spiga Nera.”
Birrificio La Superba – Busalla (Liguria)
In the brewery guide you’ll find the Re family and Andrea Mura, a young but expert brewer with barrels of experience gained from working in various Italian microbreweries. The objective is to strive for a balance between the respect for international brewing traditions and the use of local products. All of the beers are bottom-fermented, with the exception of the Stout, the Weiss and the Pale Ale. They are all characterized by local raw ingredients, like chestnut flour from Val Graveglia, honey and rose petals from the Scrivia Valley and basil from Prà.
Birrificio Svevo – Modugno (Puglia)
Twelve years ago, Vito Lisco gave up his computer and concentrated on the Italian brewing scene with careful and precise work that consolidated a range of interesting and reliable beers. His wife Claudia has been by his side ever since the first experiment, and she helps and supports him in the various phases of the process. The beers, based on English-style beers, are all top-fermented. The historical beers sit alongside new interesting productions that are linked to the raw materials of Italian provenance.
Birrificio Troll – Vernante (Piedmont)
Daniele Meinero (known as Dano) has reached such a degree of knowledge of the brewing process that he expertly plays with raw materials. He is particularly skilled in his manipulation of the hops – preferring European varieties to American – and the use of spices to create perfectly balanced beers. At his side is Alberto Canavese, responsible for the design and development of the beers. If you’re looking for a high-quality, low-alcohol beer, we suggest the Bruna Alpina made from local ingredients (rye from the Valle Gesso and arquebuse, a local herb). To be paired with your favorite street food.
Dueffe – Birrificio del Forte – Pietrasanta (Tuscany)
On Francesco Mancini and Carlo Franceschini’s iniative, the Birrificio del Forte opened its doors in 2011, and represented their “graduation” after long apprenticeships as home brewers (starting in 2001), and as promoters of local initiatives (within the Ars Birraria association). In 2013 Francesco took the helm, and he now continues the mission, encouraged by positive feedback, much of it from the public and critics. His starting points were two beer schools of thought: the British and the Belgian. For the last two years though, the brewery has expanded its range of inspirations, opening up to American influences, without succumbing to trends.
Kamun – Predosa (Piedmont)
Kamun was the term used for beer during the Byzantine Empire. Gippo, a precise and methodical brewer, and Ludovico, business savvy entrepreneur, are friends, partners, and the enthusiastic creators of this venture. All top-fermented, their beers are clean, precise and low in alcohol. Gippo’s idea is clear: to establish their current styles and, one day, carefully tackle different types and new methods of fermentation.
Kulmbacher – Kulmbach (Bavaria)
Situated in the district of Upper Franconia, in the heart of Europe, the town of Kulmbach is defined as a must by connoisseurs. The Kulmbacher brewery has been preserving an important heritage since 1846 and takes pride in the ability and professionalism of its master brewers, who, in offering their wealth of expertise, follow and apply the ancient “Beer Purity Law,” proclaimed in 1516.
Maltus Faber – Genoa (Liguria)
At last Massimo Versaci and Fausto Marenco can focus full-time on the activities of their brewery, having left behind the work commitments that had constrained them to focusing on beer only in their free time. Their range has therefore increased and other than the Belgian style-line, they have also added the Triple Hop, Blonde Hop and Sweet Stout. Fausto’s desire is to exclusively use yeast to characterize the aromatic profile of the beers, manipulating temperature and fermentation. The result is an exemplary product.