Today is the birthday of Italian beer writer Maurizio Maestrelli. I think I first met Maurizio in Belgium several years ago on a press trip, but we’ve also judged together at the Brussels Beer Challenge and, I believe, in Japan. He’s also a founder of Milano Beer Week, so we have that in common. He’s a great person to share a beer with. Join me in wishing Maurizio a very happy birthday.
Today is the 66th birthday of Italian beer writer Lorenzo Dabove, one of Europe’s most celebrated. I first met Lorenzo in San Diego nearly a decade ago, and have run into him here and again a few times since, most recently at the Craft Brewers Conference and the World Beer Cup three years ago in Denver, and annually at the Brussels Beer Challenge in Belgium. He’s a great voice for better beer everywhere, though especially his native Italy and Belgium. Join me in wishing Lorenzo a very happy birthday.
At a beer dinner at Lost Abbey in 2008. From left: Tomme Arthur (Lost Abbey), Lorenzo, Vinnie Cilurzo (Russian River), Sam Calagione (Dogfish Head), Adam Avery (Avery Brewing) and Rob Todd (Allagash).
Anheuser-Busch InBev announced yesterday that they’ve notched another brewery, this time it’s Italy’s celebrated Birra del Borgo. Under the terms of the deal, Birra del Borgo will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of AB InBev, though the price was not disclosed.
From the press release:
Birra del Borgo is happy to announce that it has decided to partner with Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev). The partnership will give Birra del Borgo, one of the leading craft brewers in Italy, a unique opportunity to make the necessary investments for expansion while continuing to independently manage its business and define how to grow.
AB InBev will provide the support to allow Birra de Borgo to expand its brewery know how and infrastructure, continue to innovate and bring new great beers on the market through its distribution system. Founder Leonardo Di Vincenzo will continue to lead Birra Del Borgo as CEO of the company.
In 2005, Birra Del Borgo was founded by Leonardo Di Vincenzo in Borgorose, a small town in the province of Rieti on the border between Lazio and Abruzzo in Italy. Leonardo started brewing beer at home for enjoyment while at University studying biochemistry. He traveled frequently throughout Europe to explore the traditional beer styles; getting to know the German and Belgium master brewers was crucial to his education. One of Leonardo’s most formative experiences was brewing at the Starbess brewery in Rome, which later led to his conception of Birra del Borgo. Leonardo’s initial inspiration comes from English & Belgian beers, but he then reinvented the styles to root them in the Italian gastronomy culture. Leonardo currently produces ten beers year round, some famous such as ReAle, Duchessa, DucAle. Other Birra del Borgo products include 4 Seasonals inspired by local ingredients and several unique beers brewed with original techniques, under the “Bizzarre” family. Leo’s inspiration is dictated by the moment and seasonality related to the main ingredient, with a passion to reinvent styles and push boundaries.
Leonardo will remain the CEO of Birra Del Borgo.
Leonardo Di Vincenzo said: “Our voyage since we started in 2005 has been a great adventure. Today the beer sector has become very competitive and it necessary for us to make a next step to ensure that we can continue to evolve in terms of brewing techniques and in terms of the complexity and taste variation we can offer to consumers. We believe partnering with AB InBev is a great opportunity to do exactly that: it will allow Birra del Borgo to grow in a sustainable way while staying true to our unique identity and the philosophy that we have followed since the very beginning.
The partnership with AB InBev will bring us many advantages, from technological improvements and access to scientific research to the possibility to grow from a commercial point of view. Moreover, this partnership also means that we will be able to focus much more on what we enjoy most and do best: creating and experimenting with exciting new beers and pushing the boundaries of beer evolution in Italy.
He added: “We will continue brewing all of our beers in Borgorose, which will allow us to grow by continuing to invest in our local community, as we have always done. At Birra del Borgo, we have a great team with enormous enthusiasm and love for what we do every day. It is with this team that we start this exciting second chapter in Birra del Borgo’s history. The heart and soul of Birra del Borgo will remain unchanged and it is with the very same passion and love for beer that we will continue Re(Thinking) Ale”.
Simon Wuestenberg, Country Director for AB InBev Italia, said: “We have been very impressed by what Leonardo and his team have built since 2005. They have been at the forefront of redefining beer in Italy, bringing a unique mix of inspired innovation, quality and consistency. Leonardo’s vision for beer and his passion for brewing will be great inspirations to our whole team, and we’re very excited about partnering up and growing together. As a challenger on the Italian market, we have been successfully developing our business with a great portfolio of premium and specialty brands in the last few years. Today, that portfolio becomes even stronger with some of the best of “Made in Italy.”
Tuesday’s ad is for Italy’s Peroni, from 1976. The headline, “chiamami Peroni sarò la tua birra, translates roughly to “call me Peroni I’ll be your beer” or possibly “call me, Peroni’ll be your beer.” And in the ad copy there’s “sono la birra pùr bevuta la Italia,” which is something along the lines of “drinking the beer while in Italy,” and finally “Lo sapevi,” meaning “did you know?” What makes this ad stand out is how exactly is she holding up that beer mug in her hand with all five of her fingers spread wide? Either she just let go and the photographer snapped the picture before it smashed to the floor, or that’s one slick magic trick.
Last week, the International Trappist Association approved the 11th monastery brewery to be allowed to designate their beers as “officially” Trappist. There are now six Trappist breweries in Belgium, two in the Netherlands, and one each in Austria, the U.S.A. and now Italy. The latest monastery brewery, Abbey at Tre Fontane, is located in Rome, Italy. It was a religious spot since Roman times (from around the first century), and became affiliated with the Cistercian Order in 1625. According to Wikipedia:
Belonging to the monastery are three separate churches. The first, the Church of St. Paul of Three Fountains, was raised on the spot where St. Paul was beheaded by order of Emperor Nero. Legend accounts for the three springs (fontane) with the assertion that, when severed from Paul’s body, his head bounced and struck the earth in three different places, from which fountains sprang up. These still flow and are located in the sanctuary.
That’s where the beer’s name comes from, Three Fountains Tripel, which is an 8.5% a.b.v. Tripel, brewed with Eucalyptus. That’s because the monks of the Tre Fontane Abbey planted fields of eucalyptus to combat malaria beginning in 1870. They also make olive oil, honey (flower, acacia, and eucalyptus), chocolates, and a Trappist liqueur.
The beer is described by the ITA like this:
“The high carbonation gives the mouthfeel a pleasant dry finish. The mildly sweet aftertaste comes from the soothing flavor of eucalyptus herb, which cleanses and refreshes the palate. While the beer gives the impression of being light, it has abundant body. The high alcohol content adds a warm, refined feeling to the soothing highlights of the eucalyptus.”
Monday’s ad is an another early ad for the Italian brewery Birra Pedavena, which closed in 1937, but reopened again in 1998 as La Bierreria Pedavena. The man struggling with the giant beer glass looks to me like he might be King Gambrinus.
Friday’s ad is for Birra di Borgofranco, a stylized ad for the Italian beer, possibly from 1911. I couldn’t find anything about the brewery itself. Still, what’s with the waitresses hat. That’s a pretty odd-looking chapeau, or should I say cappello. And the complexion on the man about to spill that beer on his tuxedo? Is he a zombie?
Wednesday’s ad is also for an Italian beer, though it’s by renowned German illustrator Adolfo Hohenstein, who made a name for himself painting in Italy, where he helped to found Italian Art Nouveau. Hohenstein is also considered the “father of Italian poster art,” and this poster was completed in 1906, the year he left Milan and returned home to Germany. I think it’s one of the most beautiful of the time period.
Tuesday’s ad is a 1920s ad for an Italian beer that’s still in business — Pedavena. Similar to yesterday’s French ad, this one also features a king carrying a beer. Is it Gambrinus? Who knows.