I’m all about exploring the local wonders that surround me here in Friuli.
The mountains, the scenery, the wineries, the villas, the cheese…and the beer?
Yes, the BEER!
Great microbreweries are trickled around Friuli and northern Italy, probably due to the Austrian/German influence on this liquid gold that I love so much. Since I am right on Friuli/Veneto border, I feel the need to share one artisanal beer from Veneto that I absolutely love. Veneto is huge and I haven’t had the opportunity to explore many of my beer options further into the region. All in good time!
Although I am not a beer expert, I have tasted a wide variety of beer since living in Italy. After I was married and I got my VISA/work permit, I landed my first Italian job at a pub – a quality pub with beers from Europe and abroad.
My experience as a pub bunny will have to be told in another blog post (oh, the drama!), but one of the job perks was getting a free beer or two every day after work so that I could “learn the flavors and be able to explain the differences between the beers to the thirsty pub-goers.”
Um, yeeeeeeahhhh. I just wanted to drink free beer! Unfortunately, this is also where I discovered my slight intolerance to beer yeast and probably gained a few pounds. OOPS!
My Favorite Artisanal Brewery (which is in the neighboring region of Veneto)
I remember the first time I tasted this beer…just like it was yesterday.
It was at the town sagra (or town “festival” in English) a few years back.
My husband and I passed by their stand where they were heavily promoting the product.
Shall we taste? Lets!
They had an amber beer – Ambra Rossa di Treviso – which was quite unique since they use radicchio in it. Treviso is famous for its radicchio, so the fact that they incorporated it into their beer was a great way to promote their region and one if its most well-known plants from the cichorium genus.
I like full-bodied beers that are light/amber in color but pack a punch (usually with a high alcohol content) so of course I had to try their blonde beer – Bionda.
My favorite Italian beer to date. After we discovered them at the sagra, we stalked all other sagre for their beer stand.
TIP – Be sure to go to their brewery/pub in Levada di Ponte di Piave. It is a stunning refurbished old barn with ample outdoor seating and pretty good food to boot. Have you ever heard of “Tiramisu?” They’ve upped the ante and created a “Birramisu” with beer. YUM! Get in my belly!
Microbreweries / Artisanal Breweries In Friuli
A hot Thursday in August lead us to the hidden location of Birra Gjulia. We called the day before to make sure they were open (since August is the big vacation month for Italians, we weren’t sure if they would be open). Yes! They were.
After a long drive and an even longer wait at a train crossing, (the train passed and the bars seemed to be stuck), we finally arrived to our beer location.
Clean, plenty of outdoor seating and we were surprised to discover that they also make wine in addition to running an agriturismo. The rolling hills and rows of vineyards surrounding the place had us second guess if we were in the right location, but once we saw the beer logo we were good to go.
Their logo, the arrows of a compass, tie in nicely to the names of their beer; which reference north, south, east and west.
I headed straight for the amber beer: Ovest Ambrata. Definitely up my alley. It was sweet, not as cold as I like my beer to be so that kind of put a damper on my tasting, but the flavor was excellent.
My husband, who prefers weizen beer, opted for their Est Bianca. Thumbs up on this one.
The Sud Nera beer was the darkest one we tried. Since I’m not a fan of dark beers, I didn’t care too much for this one myself, but it’s worth a taste if you do like darker brews!
TIP 1 – This artisanal brewery also offers an organic blonde beer in addition to a gluten-free beer. We gifted it to a friend and then ended up tasting it when we were invited to dinner at their place. Excellent beer! Check out their website for all of their options.
I see that they are also making their way into the UK beer scene. Give it a try if you happen to see it!
TIP 2 – One tip just isn’t enough, so I am going to give you TWO!
The Bastianich winery just happens to be a hop, skip and a jump away from this brewery. You know, Lidia’s Italy from PBS? Joe Bastianich, judge on Masterchef?
That’s their winery. You can visit their restaurant, Orsone, as well, which we stopped at for a glass of wine before hitting the road again.
Another great little microbrewery located at the foot of the Dolomites.
What started as a hobby grew into a business, and so Valscura was born.
This little gem makes some awesome seasonal beers that I love. In the summer months when the fig trees are producing, they begin brewing a delicious fig beer.
Once the weather cools down and the leaves change color, you know it’s almost time for some chestnut beer. Chestnuts thrive in this part of Italy, so try a chestnut beer if you have the chance. This particular beer even won a “Beer of the Year” award in 2010.
Zahre Beer (*pending visit*)
This is a brewery tucked into the heart of the Dolomites, in a town that is already famous for its speck. Sauris, which is located in the province of Udine, is not as close to me as some of the others so the next time I plan a visit, I will do a thorough tour of this microbrewery.
I will tell you that I had a chance to taste their beer (finally!) at an artisanal beer event in April (2016).
I tried their canapa beer. Yes, that’s right. CANAPA.
A.k.a. “Cannabis” in English.
No, this doesn’t get you drunk and high. It’s cannabis done right! The flavor was amazing, and I also had a sip of their darker Affumicata (smoky) beer.
I’m not a fan of the darker stuff but that one was GOOD!
I can’t wait until the summer so I can drive up to Sauris and spend the day eating Speck and drinking beer.
A match made in Dolomite Mountains heaven!
La Birra Di Meni (*pending visit*)
This is another microbrewery that makes a delicious chestnut beer which I tasted a few years back at the chestnut festival in the tiny town of Mezzomonte.
Visit their special beer section and your mouth will water. They have: apple beer, pumpkin beer, elderflower beer, strawberry beer, honey beer and cherry beer.
It’s beer heaven! I think it just moved up to the top of my must-visit list.
Microbreweries in Veneto:
Microbreweries in Friuli:
La Birra di Meni
Have some suggestions of your own? Feel free to write them in the comment area below! I am happy to investigate any new beer possibilities in my area.
Whether you want to fill yourself with some Italian beer or any other drinks, continue following my blog so you can receive more in-depth and authentically Italian suggestions like these!