|April 11, 2008|
Agostino was also telling me about the Italian brewing renaissance, which, while small, is growing at a brisk pace. As I mentioned earlier, there’s been a fiftyfold increase over the last twelve years. Of the 200 craft breweries many are making a name for themselves by using non-traditional ingredients, many of which though are local. One trend apparently is using chestnuts, which several breweries are making. Other ingredients include bran, tea, peaches, cherries, cassis, and many other spices. In fact, Agostino thinks that it’s that adventuresome spirit that is hampering the Italian beer scene from growing faster, as there are not enough beer aficionados ready for such unusual beers. He believes there needs to be more of a balance of beer styles that people already recognize along with the unique ones. I can see his point, but I confess I’m much more interested in learning about the specialty beers. But then I’m not the typical customer.
Birraficio Italiano itself has ten beers listed on its website, all of which sound very interesting. But of those, only the Weizen sounds familiar. All the rest are either completely unique or a combination of other styles. And La Fleurette isn’t even listed! In fact, neither was the Scires, the sour cherry beer Agostino brought along for us to try after the brewing was done, but more about that later.
Orange blossom honey, commercial grade.
Travis and Agostino adding the honey toward the end of the boil.
About to add the flowers and the black pepper.
Vinnie tosses some roses up in the air to commemorate the first time he’s brewed with flowers.
In goes the flowers.
Travis stirring the pot.
Agostino watching the progress.
The bags in the kettle.
Then pulling them out at the end of the boil.
Creating more yeast which will be used for refermentation.
Putting a small amount in one keg, and making sure it’s full, Travis shoots some across the brewery.
With the yeast already added to the fermenter, the transfer from the kettle begins.
And the mesh bag of flowers is also put into the fermenter.
With just a smidge too much to fit in the fermenter, one wooden barrel was filled just to see what might happen.
Agostino climbed up on the barrel to watch his beer put into wood for the very first time.
Until it was filled to overflowing.
And splattered to the floor below.
Afterwards, Agostino broke out a bottle of his Scires. It’s a sour beer made with whole cherries, stems and all.
At the end of a long but rewarding day brewing, we drank a toast to beer — it was the birthday of Gambrinus after all — and to both Agostino and Vinnie, for collaborating to make a very unusual and exciting beer. It will be several weeks, of course, before we can taste the results but I, for one, can hardly wait.
From left: Travis Smith, Vinnie and Natalie Cilurzo and Agostino Arioli.
Back to Part 2