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Historic Beer Birthday: Angelo Poretti

Today is the birthday of Angelo Poretti (June 19, 1829-October 20, 1901). He was born in northern Italy, in the Vedano Olona area. He traveled in his youth, learned the brewing trade, and returned to Italy and founded the Birrificio Angelo Poretti in 1877. The brewery remained in his family until 1939, and today is owned by the Carlsberg Group.

This biography is from his Italian Wikipedia page, translated by Google:

He was born into a peasant family and decided in his youth to emigrate to Europe, moving between Austria, Germany and Bohemia. Enriched by the experience abroad, in the mid-seventies of the nineteenth century, he returned to Italy to spread the beer in his country. In fact the various years spent abroad gave Angelo Poretti the opportunity to acquire a deep knowledge of beer, thanks to the encounter with some of the best brewers of the time. He then sought in the province of Varese, of which it was originally, the best area to build its brewery, investing the savings accumulated with fatigue together with its Bohemian wife Franziska Peterzilka. At Induno Olona, near the caves of the Valganna, he bought the abandoned Amideria del Dones starch factory; from abroad it imported the machinery, the raw materials and the first master brewer, while the purity of the water, a fundamental element for a quality beer, was guaranteed by the source of the Valgannaknown as the “fountain of the sick”, which Angelo Poretti had purchased. The choice dictated by the search for quality also had a strong advertising impact as the water of the “fountain of the sick”, famous for its healing effects, became the basic element of the beers produced in the new Poretti brewery. Another key element in the choice of the area was the presence of the lake of Ganna and Ghirla from which it drew the ice for storing the drink.

The Angelo Poretti brewery around 1904.

This account is from an Italian museum website in Varese, Museoweb:

Angelo Poretti, born in 1829 in Vedano Olona, ​​decides to leave the province of Varese in his youth to work in Austria, Germany and Bohemia first as a laborer, then as a laborer and finally as a contractor for some railway lines.

In the mid-seventies, with his wife, the Bohemian Franziska Peterzilka, decided to return to Italy and to invest the discreet wealth accumulated in brewing which is so successful in Central Europe. His idea is to introduce in Italy a new type of beer – the Bohemian Pilsner – which compared to those sold up to that point (the “Vienna” and the “Chiavenna”) is lighter and is produced with top quality ingredients . He was convinced of the goodness of the initiative through his long experience in the euro zone. At Induno Olona he identifies the area where to build his own plant. It is located near the caves of the Valganna, where there is a spring, called the “fountain of the sick”, very famous not only in the district but even in Milan for its effects called “miraculous”. Angelo Poretti buys both with an immediate advertising effect: the water from the “fountain of the sick” becomes the basis of his beer.

In short, he buys the factory of the terminated Amideria del Dones, he gets machinery, raw materials and the first master brewer from abroad. The company, created in 1877 and formalized three years later with the establishment of Poretti Angelo and C., won great popularity a few years later, in 1881, on the occasion of the Universal Exposition held in Milan. The elegant Swiss chalet that houses the Varese company, in fact, is literally besieged by a crowd of visitors who want to taste the Italian pilsner. In the following years, the company grew and this despite a market then as now characterized by very low per capita consumption compared to the European average (today we are around 30 liters) and an extreme fragmentation of the sales points.

In addition to his entrepreneurial experience, Angelo Poretti is also active in public and economic life. Over the years, in fact, he held the office of municipal councilor in Varese and mayor of Vedano Olona, ​​while in the mid-1980s he was appointed chairman of the permanent committee of the brewers’ association. He has no children and at his death, in October 1901, he was succeeded by his grandchildren (the sisters’ children) Edoardo Chiesa, the brothers Angelo and Tranquillo Magnani and Francesco Bianchi (who died in 1918).

Until the outbreak of the First World War, the company recorded very positive results, so much so that it entered the top of the national ranking per hectolitre of beer produced. Meanwhile, in 1905, the increased production requirements led the two grandchildren to renew the Induno Olona production facility. The project is entrusted to the German studio Bihl and Woltz, which creates a factory in pure Jugendstil style able to perfectly combine industrial technology with art.

As far as I can tell, this is a wax figure of Poretti on display somewhere, possibly at the brewery museum or visitor center today.

This is the description of the brewery from Wikipedia:

The brewery was founded in 1877 by Angelo Poretti in Induno Olona. In 1939, the company passed to the Bassetti family, who owned the Splügen brewery in Chiavenna. In 1982 the Carlsberg Group bought 50% of the shares from the company, followed in 1998 by a further 25%. In 2002, the Danish group acquired the remaining 25% and thus obtained full ownership of the company from Induno Olona.

An early Poretti label.

And according to the section on Modern Brewing Associations in the “Documentary History of the United States Brewers’ Association,” published in 1896, Poretti was president of the Italian brewers’ organization.

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