Beer is one of the most ancient beverages and the third most popular drink in the world after water and tea. Beer is produced from cereals, mostly malted barley, but also wheat, corn, rice, and hop, which adds that characteristic bitter note and acts as a natural preservative and stabilizer.
The balance sheet provided by Assobirra in 2017 shows that the exportations of Italian beers have reached a record high (2,7 million hectoliters), which amounts to a 7,9% growth, compared to 2016.
The annual report of the association, which monitors over 90% of the national production, also says “Last year the production has reached an all-time high too (15,6 million hectoliters), which is 7,5% higher than the previous year. These digits show that the beer sector is healthy and that it has positive effects on the farming sector, on restaurants, hotels, catering, and on the traditional distribution”. The beer sector employs 140.000 people, and the growth forecast is 3000 workers per year.
In the past, many Italian brands of beer existed, and often their names reminded of countries with stronger beer traditions than ours, in particular, Germany, Switzerland, and Austria: think of Spluga (later renamed Splügen) in Chiavenna, Wuhrer in Brescia, Dreher in Trieste, Peroni in Vigevano and Poretti in Varese.
Starting from the second half of the 20th century Italian brands were acquired by foreign companies, so today the Italian beers that are most famous abroad don’t have much to do with Italy anymore! Anyway, let’s learn about their history.
Peroni is another name that indicates the Italian region of this beer. Unfortunately, the reality is very different. First of all, it must be taken into account that its real name is not Peroni, but Birra Peroni S.p.A. That’s a significant difference, because the society owns two brands: Peroni and Nastro Azzurro.
In 2003 Birra Peroni – and hence also Nastro Azzurro – was acquired by the South African giant SABMiller, and after a few years by the group Asahi. It’s to be remembered that Peroni itself acquired the brand “Birra Raffo” in 1961, which is a typical beer from Taranto. So if Peroni is not Italian anymore, Birra Raffo isn’t, either.
Nastro Azzurro is a premium pilsner beer produced since the ‘60s by the brewery Peroni di Roma. It has the typical taste of a pilsner with a hint of citrus fruit and hop. Its alcoholic strength is 5,1% vol.
This beer owes its name to a tribute to the ocean liner “Rex”, which won the prize “Nastro Azzurro” in 1933. For many years the brand has sponsored the famous motorcycle racer, Valentino Rossi.
One of the best ingredients of this product is local corn, a variety that is exclusively grown in Italy, it’s not genetically engineered and it’s being selected through the collaboration with the Unità di Ricerca per la maiscoltura di Bergamo (Research Unity of Bergamo for maize-growing).
Whereas in Italy it is sold without the name “Peroni” on the label, the bottles that are headed overseas carry the writing “Peroni Nastro Azzurro”, and nowadays it’s the best-selling Italian beer in the world, exported in all continents and in more than 75 countries.
Birra Moretti is one of the most famous beer brands abroad. It was born in 1859 in Udine (Region of Friuli-Venezia-Giulia) and quickly became the symbol of an entire city – to the point that some buildings and public places bear its name. The founder was Luigi Moretti. The national (and international) success came with the advertising campaign of Italy’s most famous Mustache.
Lately, Birra Moretti is undertaking an ambitious project: producing regional beers (Sicilian, Piedmontese, and Tuscan). In 1996 Birra Moretti was acquired by Heineken Italia, which in turn was part of the Dutch group Heineken. Consequently, also Birra Moretti has stopped being an Italian beer, at least officially.
Birreria Poretti was funded by Angelo Poretti in 1876; in 1939, it was clear that the company was going to fail, but it was saved by the family Bassetti, also the owner of the brewery Spluga, which produced the beer Splügen.
Later it caught the interest of the Danish group Carlsberg, which in 1982 started buying bigger and bigger shares, until, in 2002, it owned the whole company. In 2007 the historic Birreria Poretti became subject to a huge operation of re-branding: its new name is widely known today: Birrificio Angelo Poretti.
Menabrea is an ancient beer brand that is produced by the company that has the same name, historically based in Biella (Piedmont) where the brewery also is.
This brand is property of the group Forst since the early ‘90s, and before that, it was owned by the family Thedy (heir of the company’s founders); Franco Thedy is still the company’s general manager. Under this brand about 100.000 hectoliters of beer are produced every year, thanks to 38 employees in the production plant of Biella, part of which are headed overseas to be exported in 25 countries, producing a total turnover of 22 million euro.
In over a century and a half the beer Menabrea has been awarded numerous prizes, thanks to the undisputed quality of the product; moreover, besides the factory, there is the beer museum, which includes a series of historical relics which show the different systems used in the past for the production of this popular beverage.
Peroni, Nastro Azzurro, Moretti, Angelo Poretti, and Menabrea may not be 100% Italian brands, but they have production sites in our country and they provide jobs for many Italians. Also, in the vast majority of cases, they only use local ingredients to produce beer that today represents the best of Made in Italy everywhere in the world. After all, recently several artisanal breweries were born in Italy, so that it’s still possible to enjoy a 100% Italian beer.
Be its famous brands or artisanal products, Bell Italia distributes the best Italian beers on the market and the best of Italian food in the whole world, guaranteeing the lowest prices on the market; hundreds of wholesalers and retailers from every part of the globe choose Bell Italia each week to restock their shelves with the best of Italian food and no food… strictly Made in Italy. If you are interested in knowing our prices, contact us Ezia Caputo and Giovanna Caprioli!
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