From my experience, Italy is not a beer drinking country. I may have only lived there for 6 months, but within those transformative weeks I guzzled far more Irish and Scottish beers than Italian brands.
It makes complete sense really. Why drink beer in a country with such an unlimited wealth of world-class wines, liquors, and cocktails? More over, it seemed the only locals chugging local beer were the gypsies suckling Birra Moretti 40′s on a stoop at 8am…Not the scene to wet one’s palette.
But change and variety is imperative to living a good life, not to mention lightly-buzzed, and Italy is now gaining some esteem and respect for it’s balanced and delicious brews. Craft beer stores are stocked with a catalogue of exciting new draughts from the boot, but today’s time-honored classic will forever be the flagship Italian pour:
Peroni Nastro Azzurro
Product Details: 5.1% Alcohol lager brewed in Rome, founded in Lombardia in 1846.
Appearance: Similar in many aspects to a Heineken, Peroni is bright blonde with a sparkling white foam and energetic bubbling on the pour.
Aroma: Fresh, lightly malty with a crisp whiff of hops.
Taste: Clean pilsners and lagers have always been my favorite beers. What they lack in over-saturated flavor they make up for in refreshment, clarity and simplicity. Peroni is exactly that: refined and balanced with a tip to classics like Pilsner Urquel and Grolsch (owned by the same company unsurprisingly). It’s a great example of the classic saying: ‘Quanto Basta” meaning just enough – it’s beer, with just enough of what you’re looking for to make it a perfect pint.
Food Pairings: The few times I enjoyed a draught tumbler of Peroni in Italy, it was accompanied by an oven-roasted pizza, fried calamari or small vegetables, and grilled meats. I’d raise the bet by challenging anyone to find a dish this clerical beer won’t accompany well.
Price: $8.99 for a six pack at your local grocer. However, my friends and I have been ordering kegs of the good stuff for special occasions, which runs upwards of $165…totally worth it. Peroni on tap is sublime.
Overall: I’ve mentioned this thought to a lot of craft brewers I’ve met over the years: if you want to change the game, make a beer like Peroni. Not only is it tastier than Sofia Loren in a bikini circa 1960, but it’s the ideal session beer with that unmistakeable thirst-quenching quality that ironically never quenches your thirst. Microbrewers take note: coffee stouts are great, but a seamless session pils will please the masses.
NOTE: Interestingly, Peroni Nastro Azzurro translates to Peroni Blue Ribbon or…oh my gahhhhh….PBR!!!
Happy Drinking & Salute!