I spent the last few days tasting Italian craft beer at the Beer and Food attraction, the Italian craft beer festival held every year, except 2021 when the event did not take place because of the pandemic, and I have mixed feelings.
The last couple of years have been tough for everyone including craft breweries and two years are quite some time, so not only I was looking forward to attending the event but had expectations. I was excited.
I could not notice the difference in the number of breweries attending the event, they went from three halls to barely one, breweries replaced with the likes of Coke or Red Bull to make up the space and help footing the bill. I guess the ones left are the ones that were able to sell their beers; the microbrewery era is over.
This was the first official event since the end of the pandemic. The event is held in Rimini, a summer resort that for the duration of the festival is awaken from its winter hibernation. Luckily it wasn’t hot, so wearing masks and tasting beer wasn’t too uncomfortable.
Last time I attended the event was in 2020, in February when it is normally held, just before the pandemic, but this year, due to the Italian government releasing its rules later compared to the UK, it was being held at the end of march.
At the time, as I wrote on the blog
, I noticed that the excitement wasn’t there anymore but passion and joy were. This year, with a very few exceptions, even the passion and joy had disappeared. It looked like the excited child that Italian craft beer once was, had become an adult, and with adulthood, the passion and the fun disappear and making beer, even craft beer, has become a proper job, a job that needs to pay the bills and wages. Italian craft breweries have become businesses that need to balance their books.
Of all the breweries I visited and beer I tasted, I did not taste any “extreme” beer like in past editions, I did not taste any beer that would get me salivating only on the ingredients. The beer’s styles were the usual suspects, with differences in the recipes between breweries, but were beers that every beer drinker and not, would recognise and drink; however, the quality of the beers was really good, Italian craft beer keeps getting better.
There were also a couple of companies bottling industrially made beer hoping to take market’s share away from Peroni and Moretti, but only time will tell if they will succeed. Personally, I believe it is too late to jump on the Italian beer wagon.
The Italian craft beer movement is still here, less breweries and less excitement, but plenty of independent breweries producing outstanding beer, breweries that now have several years of experience and whilst they stopped experimenting with beer, they kept learning and improving on the beers they produce.
At the beginning of the beer revolution, Italians would know very little about beer, beer wasn’t cool or trendy, and was mainly drunk on the back room of small villages’s bar up and down the country when playing cards. A few brave breweries started the Italian craft beer revolution and Italians fell in love with the drink, beer consumption has increased several folds since, and beer has become a nation’s favourite.
The next step would be for the remaining craft breweries to step up their marketing skills and prove the world that not only Italian do beers and do it well, but Peroni or Moretti have nothing to do with Italian beer other than their name. I wish them all the best and we will do everything we can to promote the real Italian beer.