Thursday, May 1, 2014

16 Beer Misconceptions (Part 2 of 2)

In my travels and discussions over the years with other beer lovers I've stumbled across some perceptions that are a bit off.   They are all basically harmless, but nonetheless it doesn't hurt to point them out.  Some of the topics on the list are general, some are specific, and others quite random.

This blog takes a look at 16 common beer-related misunderstandings relating to our favorite drink.  I've split this into two posts.  This second entry will discuss the final eight. 

Click here to read Part  1 of 2.

I'm sure I missed dozens.  Do you have any to add?  Feedback is always welcome!

To continue...

9)  All Trappist Ales come from Belgium.  When I think Trappist, I think Belgium.  But not all Trappist beers are from there.  Koningshoeven is brewed north of the border in the Netherlands.  And two years ago a new player entered the market - Stift Engelszell from Austria.  Out of the eight Trappist breweries, the remaining six are indeed from Belgium - three from the French speaking south (OrvalChimay, and Rochefort) and three from the Flemish north (AchelWestmalle, and Westvleteren).  For more about Trappist breweries please reference my blog post from last year.  

(After posting this I was notified by Jim E. that St. Joseph's Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts also joined the list.  I knew they were coming, but didn't realize their Spencer Trappist Ale was out yet.  Good catch Jim!  And we can all welcome the USA into the Trappist ranks.)

10)  Wine is harder to make than beer.  I'm not out to start a fight here.  Nor am I saying beer is better than wine.  Nor am I saying fine wine is easy to make.  But fundamentally, wine is fairly simple.  Grapes already contain sugar, and the skins are covered with yeast.  (I know, maybe not the yeast you want, but…)  Press the grapes, and let it ferment!

Beer is produced by the fermentation of sugars derived from starch-based material.  Typically barley, but also wheat, rye, and to a lesser extent other grains.  In other words, a seed needs to be malted and mashed in order to get to the sugars that wine makers start with from nature.  Malt production and mashing take precise conditions such as moisture content, pH and temperature.  It is a fairly complex and scientific process to perfect the production of a good wort.  

Beer may be a commoner's drink, and wine may have an air of nobility, but in reality your Pilsner may have taken more skill to produce than your Pinot. 

11)  Germans drink their beer warm.  The British are famous for drinking "warm and flat" Ales, but the Germans don't drink their beer warm.  I would call it cold/cool.  Not ice cold beer out of a cooler like Americans drink at a tailgate, but definitely not warm.

12)  Brettanomyces is bacteria.  Actually brett is a form of super-attenuating wild yeast.  It is not uncommon for brettanomyces to end up in beers that are also partially fermented by bacteria, so some mistakenly think it falls into this group.  Styles such as Lambic and Sour Red Ales are examples of beers fermented with "traditional" brewers yeast, brettanomyces and acid producing bacteria.  

If you want to learn more about this much loved bug, read my November 2012 entry on Anchorage Brewing and brettanomyces.

13)  Light lagers are not good beers.  I am not the biggest fan of mass-produced light lagers.  (Though I don't object.  My father grows 2-row barley for Coors.)  Light lagers, whether mass produced or brewed by your local craft brewer, are in my opinion the most difficult beers to perfect.  

Think of a delicate Helles, or brilliantly fresh Pilsner.  Those beers need to be clean to allow the yeast to get out of the way and showcase the malt and hops.  Any minor flaw will jump out in these beers.  Dark ales and hoppy beers on the other hand are more forgiving.  Fermentation flaws often get buried underneath stronger flavors.  When is the last time you had a "flawed" Porter?  
Kloster Mülln (Monastery) in Austria

I'm not saying it doesn't take skill to make that over-the-top IPA, I'm just saying light lagers are the most challenging beers to brew.  That is my opinion anyway.

14)  Beer and religion don't mix.  I think this perception comes from religious teetotalers.  We all know one.  But I completely object to this generalization.  If not for the church beer would definitely not be what it is today.  Monks were of the few learned people of their times, and their science, experimentation and documentation helped perfect brewing practices.  We owe our great ales & lagers largely to their effort, trials and tribulations.  And think of the most sought after beers today.  Tops on that list has to be Westvleteren - brewed by monks.

Additionally, religion would not be as strong as it is without beer.  The church (often intertwined with the ruling powers) controlled beer production and distribution in much of the old world.  This strengthened their establishment.  

Throughout history religion and beer have gone hand in hand.

15)  Bock beer comes from the bottom of the barrel.  I've even read this in reputable bar guides.  I don't even really know what it means.  Is the thought that the stronger/thicker beer settles to the bottom?  

Bock beers are simply stronger, higher gravity beers.  They are brewed like any other beer.  (By German law to be classified as a Bock the wort requires a minimun starting gravity of 1.064, and 1.072 for a Doppelbock.)  

The only other explanation for this misnomer that I can think of is that most Bock beers are lagers.  (though there are Weizenbocks)  Germans call lagers untergärig, which means "bottom fermented."  This simply refers to the slow, cool fermentation carried out by yeast that have settled.  In the old days I suppose
"Funky" Cantillon Lambic in Belgium
this would mean settled to the bottom of the barrel.  But the bock beer we drink is racked off this yeast before packaging, just like any other beer.

16)  All sour beers are awesome!  Just because a beer is funky or sour does not mean it is good.  Just like hoppy beers, sour beers still require balance.  And some beer souring bacteria (like enterobacter) are down right sickening.  

Some of the world's greatest beers make use of spontaneous fermentation and/or barrel aging.  These practices lead to inoculation by brettanomyces and other souring microorganisms.  But funk alone does not guarantee greatness - or even drinkability.  Sour beer brewers should prepare to get an ear full if you want a Belgian lambic brewer to critique your beer!

Well that concludes my list of 16.  Did I miss any?  I'm sure you have some to add… please comment!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

16 Beer Misconceptions (Part 1 of 2)

In my travels and discussions over the years with other beer lovers I've stumbled across some perceptions that are a bit off.   They are all basically harmless, but nonetheless it doesn't hurt to point them out.  Some of the topics on the list are general, some are specific, and others quite random.

This blog takes a look at 16 common beer-related misunderstandings linked to our favorite drink.  I've split this list into two posts.  This first entry will discuss one through eight, and in two weeks I will finish off nine through 16.  

I'm sure I missed dozens.  Do you have any to add?  Feedback is always welcome!

Here we go...

1)  Fresh beer is better.  Anheuser Busch has spent millions of dollars drilling this into our heads.  Why?  Partly because for beer, being like bread, this theory is typically correct.  But mostly because their beer turns over so fast they don't need to worry about anyone buying an old Budweiser.  Imports, on the other hand, are often three months old before they get to the US.  It is a smooth way to get consumers to favor their product.

As a rule of thumb, filtered, light (in alcohol) beers are best fresh.  But many bottle conditioned, strong beers are worth laying down and will build character - some improving for several years.

2)  Fruit and honey make beer sweet.  This misconception probably stems from the fact that many fruit and/or honey beers are sweet.  But that sweetness typically comes from artificial flavoring or added sugars.  

The sugars in honey and fructose from fresh fruit are simple sugars and readily fermentable by brewer's yeast.  They tend to dry beer out, not sweeten it.  (Think of a dry Belgian Triple, typically made candy sugar added to the boiler.)  Honey and fruit may add character, but not body nor sweetness after being fermented out.

3)  Pilsner Urquell is dry hopped.  This Czech lager has a beautiful Saaz noble-hop aroma.  So it must be dry hopped, right?  (Aren't all hoppy beers...)  This is not the case.  Urquell is not even late hopped.  The final of three hop additions comes around 20 minutes before knock out.  This Czech brewery does use a technique known as "first wort hopping."  Hops are added to the thick first runnings before the wort is even boiled.  These running are more acidic, and many attribute that fresh hop flavor to this process.  (Counterintuitive, but it seems to work.)

I've had numerous pilsner clones that are dry hopped, and most of them are good, but they do not taste true to style.  And just because a beer exhibits a great hop aroma and flavor that does not necessarily mean it was dry hopped.

4)  Dark beers are "stronger" than light beers.  In my Beer 101 class I have a quiz question.  Which beer contains more alcohol: a) Miller Lite or b) Guinness Stout?  Lite is 4.3% abv, while Guinness is 4.2%.  Darkness in beer comes from highly kilned malts such as crystal, chocolate, black patent and roasted barley.  It does not take a lot of roasted barley to turn a beer quite dark.

Alcohol comes from the amount of sugar in the wort.  That sugar could be derived from light or darker malts.  Light beers can be quite strong (IPAs, Triples) and dark beers can be quite weak (Mild, standard Stout).

5)  All of Germany is Bavaria.  When most Americans think of Germany they have images of Maß swilling groups of Lederhosen-wearing men in big tents.  And this is what you would see if you were to visit Oktoberfest in Munich.  But wear your Lederhosen up north where Beck's or Wahrsteiner are brewed and you'll get laughed out of town.  

Bavaria is the undisputed beer capital of Germany.  From per capita consumption, number of breweries, festivals, etc.  Bayern is the place to be.  But west and northern Germany also have strong beer traditions (think Pilsner, not Helles), though culturally much different than the stereotypical American image of Bavaria.

6)  Jimmy Carter was a lousy president.  Well, I don't really want to get into politics here.  And trust me, I'm not going to stick up for Carter's record.  But not all four years of his presidency went to waste. In 1978 Jimmy Carter did sign a law that essentially legalized homebrewing at the federal level.  That is why many homebrew shops to this day will have a picture of Jimmy Carter with a halo over his head. 

(On a side note, even after this law passed, many states still barred or limited Homebrewing in one manor or another.  The American Homebrewers Association has lobbied for years to make homebrewing legal throughout the United States.  And last year they finally achieved their goal.  Mississippi and Alabama were the last two states to legalize homebrewing.  The Alabama law went into effect in May of 2013 and the Mississippi law went into effect in July of 2013.  Nice work AHA!)

7)  Winning the Beerdrinker of the Year competition is about how much or how fast one can drink.   Many people have asked me questions like,  "How much did you have to drink?"  For those that have been to the competition, they know chugging beer has nothing to do with the honor.  BDOTY is about passion, knowledge, sensory perception, being an ambassador, and a bit of wit.  I think that sums up the major points.  To give people an idea of what it takes to compete I refer them to my Beer Resume.  

8)  Homebrew is not as good as craft beer.   Not many of the craft brewers in the US are classically trained.  Most graduate from the homebrewer ranks and go pro.  In theory these guys would be the best of the best.  

With that said, home brewers have some advantages over the "big" guys.  Brewing six-gallon batches of beer instead of 600 allows the little guys to experiment more.  In addition, money is no object.  What is another 40% expense in ingredients, when it is still relatively cheap to brew your own, and time is typically the homebrewer's biggest investment.  

Finally, home brewers are not bound by inflexible brewery configurations.  Expensive craft systems are typically of high quality, but also may limit process flexibility.  Homebrewers can step mash, decoction mash, make their own hopbacks, etc.  There is just a lot more options from batch to batch on a home system.

I'd put the best homebrews up against the best craft beers any day.  Are there any judges out there that have worked both the AHA Nationals and the GABF?  I'd like to hear  your comments.

Well, that wraps up my first eight beer-related misconceptions.  Come back in two weeks for the second half of this column.  In the meantime enjoy a nice Maibock to celebrate the break of spring!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Pro-Am Saison

GABF or bust

I was lucky enough again this year to collaborate with the Wynkoop on a GABF Pro-Am entry.  For those of you that are not aware, The Great American Beer Festival is the world's largest beer event (based on number of beers available) and takes place every fall in Denver - this year October 10-12th. ( A few years ago the GABF added a new "Pro-Am" match up. This competition allows homebrewers to partner with a craft brewery to scale up one of their BJCP-certified award-winning beers. Out of the 3,000+ beers available at the GABF, there are only 100 Pro-Am entries.  Those 100 are judged against each other for gold, silver, and bronze medals.  In addition, the winner is eligible to compete against all of the other beers at the GABF for best in show.

Last year my homebrewed Saison took first place at an American Homebrewer's Association's (AHA) sanctioned competition. After winning, I hit up Wynkoop brewmaster Andy Brown to see if he wanted to enter another Pro-Am.  Andy and I have collaborated on two of these in the past - a Dunkles in 2009, and a Belgian Quad in 2011.  Our Dunkles turned out excellent.  The Quad, on the other hand, never quite made it to the GABF.  This massive beer could never quite attenuate in time to make the September deadline.  So now, years later, it is still aging in brett infused oak barrels in the Wynkoop cellar drying out and working up more character.  (When it hits the tap, I'll let you know.)

The great yeast experiment

Belgian Saison is a broad category of beers with roots in Wallonia - the southern, French-speaking part of Belgium.  Saisons range from golden to amber, light to strong, spiced to unspiced.  But most are dry and highly carbonated.  Another characteristic I would assign to the Saison style is, like many other Belgian ales, it has a strong yeast character.  Yeast selection and how those yeast are handled often defines the finished product.

Since yeast character was so critical to the beer we were looking to produce, Andy suggested we partake in a yeast experiment to identify the perfect strain for our Pro-Am entry.  We split up scouring different yeast suppliers for various Saison, Farmhouse, Biere de Garde, and Ardennes strains.  In the end we had rounded up seven different varieties.  One Friday after work I headed to the Wynkoop as usual.  That day Andy had brewed a light wort for one of their beers, and pulled off 14 one-gallon jugs of the sweet liquid for our experiment.  After I arrived, we got together and pitched half of each strain into two jugs - one to be fermented warm, while the other cool.

Two weeks later the test batches had fermented out and it was time to sample each and seek out the starter with the best character for the type of Saison we were shooting for.  It is worth noting that temperature has a profound impact on how yeasts behave.  It changes the concentration of phenols & esters, impacts turbidity, influences color, and alters attenuation - to name a few qualities.  It definitely was a learning experience for me.  These are things I already knew, but never had the resources to attempt a yeast experiment on this scale. 

After Andy and I both sampled and took notes on each of the 14, we selected the "French Saison (S-11)" strain from one of the Wynkoop's commercial suppliers.  The warmer fermented batch was preferred by both of us.  I do not know with 100% certainty, but I think it is safe to say this strain is similar to Wyeast's 3711.  With that said, even the same single cell source can morph over time once split among suppliers.  To sum up - our yeast had been selected.

My recipe

As most of you know, I tend to be a fan of simplicity.  Some of the best beers in the world are single malt (Helles, Dunkles, etc.), and/or single hop beers (Saaz for Pilsners - as an example).  Plenty of complexity can be achieved with simplicity.  Well... this recipe runs contrary to that line of thinking.  Sometimes there is nothing wrong with brewing one of those "everything but the kitchen sink" type of beers.

My Saison was inspired partially by Karmeliet Tripel, which employs three cereal grains in the mash - barley, wheat and oats.  I also used these three grains, as well as a number of specialty malts to round out the grist.  This recipe has a little bit of everything.  Here it is (scale to your system and needs):

Grain Bill:

  • 71% Weyermann Pils
  • 8% Weyermann Wheat Malt
  • 5% Quaker Oats
  • 5% Gambrinus Light Munich
  • 4% Gambrinus Honey Malt
  • 3% Weyermann Crystal Wheat
  • 2% Weyermann CaraMunich III
  • 2% Castle Special B

Mash for 30 minutes at 122 degrees F then raise to 150 degrees F for 40 minutes.  Mash out as needed to suite your system.

Boil for 75 minutes:

  • 1st hop addition: sufficient Mt. Hood or Hallertauer to result in 15 IBU  (60 minutes)
  • 2nd hop addition: sufficient Mt. Hood or Hallertauer to result in 15 IBU  (30 minutes)

Very lightly spice with fresh crushed coriander at knockout


Ferment in the low 70s with Wyeast 3711 - French Saison.

Target gravities:

O.G. 1056
F.G. 1007 (try to really dry it out)

Tres Bon Saison (name of our beer)

So how did our Pro-Am experiment turn out?  What does it look like, smell like, how does it taste?  Not telling!  You'll have to judge for yourself.  This beer will be on tap Saturday at the GABF Pro-Am section (usually right up front near the entry), and it will also be available at the Wynkoop until supplies last.  I hope you get a chance to sample a few, and I welcome your feedback.  Enjoy!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Birra in Italy

Last week my wife and I returned from a trip to Europe.  On this vacation we spent a majority of our time in idyllic Italy.  A visit to Italia has been on our list for over a decade now, and we finally made it happen.

I must admit the trip was not planned around beer - rather sightseeing, history, and leisure, but like all of our travels beer ended up in many of our activities.  So with that said, this blog is not based on extensive research into the Italian beer culture, rather a more passive, tourist's perspective on the scene.

In preparation for our trip I naturally started reading up on Italy, as well as solicited advice from friends that have been there before, and in one case born and raised there.  I knew that wine was the undisputed drink of choice among Italians.  Italy is located squarely in the wine-belt.  (Tuscany is better suited to growing grapes than barley or hops.)  But I had also heard from many Italy-visiting-veterans that, like other parts of the world, the craft beer movement was taking hold there too.

When in Rome...

Our first stop on this trip was Rome.  Here is some background.  We worked all day Friday, caught an evening flight to Europe (Rome via Frankfurt), and arrived on Saturday afternoon.  After checking into our B&B we took the subway to the Spanish Steps and walked down to the Trevi Fountain.  After fighting our way through all the other tourists, we headed toward Piazza Navona.  Both of us were hungry, tiered, and thirsty, so we stopped at a quaint pizzeria in a narrow alley.  We sat at a small table out front, and after two long days we finally got a chance to relax.  This place really hit the spot.  The salami pizza we ordered was excellent, and never before has a Nastro Azzurro tasted so good!  We were hot and the beer was cold and refreshing.  Weather is a major influencing factor on local styles around the world - and Italy's Mediterranean climate steers people toward beers like Peroni.

This was my first impression of Italy.  Good food, friendly service, and a gold lager that was quite satisfying.  I must admit that I expected a city where everyone would be drinking wine.  I suspected there would be times when we may feel out of place.  (My wife does not drink much alcohol at all.)  But to my pleasant surprise, I saw as many people enjoying beer as Chianti.  Almost all restaurants had something on tap (typically Peroni or Moretti), and were more than happy to serve it with their fine cuisine.  No dirty looks or anything.  A pleasant surprise. 

No Open Container?

There was another interesting thing about Italian regulations that I quickly discovered.  When purchasing a bottle at the grocery store, or at a cart on the street, the merchant typically asked if I wanted it opened.  That is right, walking around with an open container is no problem over there.  This was actually very nice.  We could continue to do more sight seeing after dinner, with a beer in hand, and not worry about being questioned by the authorities.

One minor warning when purchasing beer - just be cautious of "Doppio Malto" beers that are ubiquitous at these markets and stores.  The name conjures notions of Doppelbock (think Moretti La Rossa), but many of them, some foreign, more closely resemble malt liquor (think Colt 45) than Salvator.  Otherwise, drink away and have fun getting lost in the maze of Rome's narrow streets.

Craft Beer Scene

Caffetteria Aristocampo
One has to seek them out a bit, but there are excellent beer pubs and breweries hidden throughout the city.  You may have to pass several Trattorias serving mass produced lager to get to them, but they do exist.  My experience was that these pubs tended to cater to a younger crowd.  Some were "sports bar" themed, and some worked to attract tourists seeking out unique and specialty beers.

I admit, I spent more time at the Vatican and Colosseum in Rome than seeking out beer havens, so take my less-than-extensive-list of recommendations with a grain of salt, but there are a few places I would suggest visiting.  And the nice thing about Rome, these establishments are all walkable and not too far from the center of town. 

  • Bir & Fud ( - Note, does not open until 6:30 pm.
  • Ma Che Siete Venuit A Fa' ( "What did you come here for?"
  • Caffetteria Aristocampo - in front of the Santa Maria della Scala church on Via della Scala.  In addition to Italian staples, they serve Peroni Grand Reserve and Franziskaner Weissbier.
  • Open Baladin Roma ( - In the lively Campo de Fiori area

North to Tuscany

After three days in Rome we rented a car and drove north into Tuscany.  We stayed at a picturesque winery on a remote hillside near Siena.  This location was our base for several day trips and excursions.  The countryside of Tuscany was beautiful, carpeted by vineyards and hilltops capped with medieval towns.  From Siena we made the winding trek through the scenic Chianti region that eventually led us to Florence.  Florence is another 'must see' town in Italy - renaissance architecture, famous museums, and a cultural center of the world.  Like most other famous Italian towns, it is also packed with tourists.   So after soaking up some art, history, and spectacular views from the top of the Duomo, we headed away from the masses toward the train station to the Mostodolce brewpub. 

Mostodolce was buzzing with a young vibe and casual atmosphere.  (a few dogs too)  The bar opened onto the street making the place feel bigger than it was.  Technically it is not a brewpub.  The owners brew the beer outside of town and have the finished product trucked in for their thirsty guests.  
Mostodolce's Owner and Berwer

Their menu provides detailed descriptions of several of their beers, though watch out because many of them are seasonals and may not be available.  Pay attention to the chalkboard left of the faucets for the beers currently on tap.  There were four when I visited.

My first beer was an A.P.A.  I asked the owner what that stood for and she said, "American Pale Ale."  I guess in some parts of the world, our hoppy Pale Ales have become so famous that "America" has replaced "India" in this style's name.   This beer poured a clear gold color topped with a cream head.  On the nose it had a fresh sent of light grain (Maris Otter?) with a sturdy hop backbone of citrus and passion fruit.  New Zealand hops dominated the flavor growing stronger and more pungent as the beer warmed.  The finish was crisp and long with more hop character and just a touch of diacetyl.  Overall well balanced.  What I would call a "light" IPA, but with hops from the southern hemisphere.  What about the name - APA?  Sounds fine to me.

My second beer at Mostodolce was their flagship English Bitter, Christian, named after the brewers' son.  I really enjoyed this beer too - a rich copper color, hints of caramel, earthy hops, minerally character, and a toasty finish.  This ale had a bit of everything.  In fact it was so well rounded, after reviewing my notes, the flavor wheel I scribbled was almost a symmetric circle - with only a dent/absence in the sour radius.

I spoke with the co-owner (pictured), and she said she and her husband are doing great business and intend to expand their distribution to other establishments.  So if you are in Florence, stop and check them out.  And keep an eye out for Mostodolce beers in other establishments too.

Südtirol or Alto Adige?

After leaving Tuscany and short visits in Cinque Terre (a must see) and Venice, we headed further north toward the Austrian border.  The number of breweries in Italy is rapidly expanding, and if you look at a map, you'll notice a disproportionate number are located in the north.  This is not a coincidence.  The terrain of the Alps and cooler temperatures lend themselves to beer.  History in the region also plays a significant role.

My wife and I spent a couple of nights in Kastelruth (Castelrotto) outside of Bozen (Bolzano) soaking in the awe-inspiring scenery of the Dolomites.  This semi-autonomous region, Südtirol, known as Alto Adige in Italian, is predominantly German speaking.  Südtirol was part of the Austrian Hungarian Empire until the end of the First World War when it was annexed by Italy.  The Third Reich left this province alone due to Mussolini's cooperation during World War II.  So there you have it... to this day Austro-Bavarian people living in Italy.  Today, this region is seeking total independence.  The feeling appears to be somewhat mutual since most Italians I spoke with did not recognize this province as part of "real" Italy.  Nevertheless, Alto Adige is part of Italy.

Culturally this region has much more in common with the German-speaking north than the rest of Italy to the south.  Not surprisingly, the beer scene here bears a similarity to that of Austria and Bavaria.  Many towns have their own breweries, and the beers tend to fall into more standard styles that would be expected north of the Alps.  Styles such as Pils, Helles, Dunkles, Bockbeir and Weizen.

The Forst brewery is quite popular in the region.  In their hometown of Meran (Merano) they have a large Biergarten.  Their beer can be found allover, including Restaurant Forstbräu in Bozen.  This gastropub is across the street from Hopfen & Co. - the home of Bozner Bräu.  Around the corner from these two beer havens is the Paulaner Stuben restaurant.  As you can see there is heavy concentration of good beer in central Bozen.

My wife and I pulled up a table out front at Hopfen & Co.  Our seats offered great people watching.  There was a bakery stand on the street directly in front of us selling all sorts of fresh goods including large pretzels.  A perfect accompaniment to the great beer we were drinking.

My first round was a Bozner Bier Helles.  A Helles it was, though more specifically I would put it in the Kellerbier category.  It was a hazy light-gold color (unfiltered) with a beautiful fresh decoction mash aroma.  It had a slightly fruity character from the malt and a light, sweetish finish.  Very enjoyable.  My second round was their Dunkles, which was equally enjoyable, though I failed to take any tasting notes.  Before moving on I had to try their Weizen, served in the traditional Weißbier glass, and also tasting very traditional - true to style.
Brewhouse at Hopfen & Co (Bozner Bier)

You can find great beers in Italy

This concludes my not-so-scientific observations of the Italian beer scene.  No, Italy is not Colorado or Franconia, but few places are.  Whether it was a mass-produced light lager on a hot day, or a Hefeweizen up north, I really enjoyed my beer drinking experiences on the boot.  If you get a chance to visit Italy, make sure and indulge in fine cuisine and excellent wines.  And don't forget that good beer can also found... even in this country squarely in the wine belt.  Enjoy.