7 Italian Beers The Talented Mr Ripley Would Die For


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Italian beers are already trendy in other countries, yet Italy is still mainly seen as a wine-producing and wine-drinking nation. The best Italian beers are well-balanced, flavoursome, and incredibly easy to drink.

Although it is part of Europe’s wine belt, Italy has produced quality beer since Gaetano Pasqui planted his first hops crop in Italy in 1847. The Italian’s love affair with beer has boomed, particularly their “national beer,” the pale lager style.

Let’s get acquainted with some of the best beers the Italian nation has to offer. I’ve concentrated on lagers, with an amber beer and a Vienna-style lager thrown in for good measure. BTW.. you’ll never know how long the title took me to think of!

Best Italian Beers

The best Italian beers are nicely carbonated with an abundance of malt, hops, caramel and citrus flavours. Here are 7 of my top picks to consider.

1. Peroni Nastro Azzurro

Peroni Nastro Azzurro
Credit: Peroni

Overview

  • Brewery: Peroni
  • ABV: 5.1% (10.2 Proof)
  • Country: Italy
  • Colour: Pale Gold

Review

In 1846, Francesco Peroni set up a brewery in the northern Italian town of Vigevano and created Birra Peroni. By the mid-1930s, Peroni had become the most prominent Italian brewery. 

Fast forward to 1963, Carlo Peroni created a new and supremely refreshing lager, Nastro Azzurro, naming it after the Blue Ribband award won by the ocean liner SS Rex in 1933.

Nastro Azzurro is a pale lager brewed from barley malt and unique corn (Nostrano dell’Isola) and flavoured with bitter and aromatic hops.

On the Nose

This beer reveals light citrus, sweet malt, and subtle grassy aromas.

On The Palate

Sweet malt, dry and bitter hops, and faint grassy and citrus notes show on the crisp, refreshing palate, leading to a dry finish. Moderately carbonated.

Overall

Peroni Nastro Azzurro is a light, crisp, supremely drinkable lager and an outstanding example of a classic Italian beer.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

2. Birra Moretti

Birra Moretti
Credit: Birra Moretti

Overview

  • Distiller: Birra Moretti
  • ABV: 4.6% (9.2 Proof)
  • Country: Italy
  • Colour: Pale Gold

Review

Luigi Moretti founded his brewery in 1857 in Udine, near Venice, selling the first bottle in 1860. From the early 1900s, Birra Moretti grew from being a beer of the Friuli region to a national beer.

Birra Moretti is a bottom-fermented lager brewed from barley malt and corn and flavoured with hop extract and is internationally known and recognised for its quality.

On The Nose

This beer has distinct bread and biscuit notes on the nose, with faint grassiness, malt, and a hint of orchard fruit.

On The Palate

Medium carbonation, sweet malt, fruitiness, slight grassiness mid-palate, and bitter floral hops on the finish. It is a little more bitter than most popular lagers.

Overall

Birra Moretti is a refreshing and traditional lager that’s best served chilled to keep you returning for its depth of flavour.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

3. Ichnusa Anima Sarda

Ichnusa Anima Sarda
Credit: Ichnusa

Overview

  • Brewery: Birra Ichnusa
  • ABV: 4.7% (9.4 Proof)
  • Country: Italy
  • Colour: Pale Gold

Review

Founded in 1912 in Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia, this beer is inextricably linked with Sardinian culture. The name “Ichnusa” is from the ancient name Hyknusa for Sardinia, and “Anima Sarda” means “Sardinian soul.”

Nowadays, the beer is brewed in the town of Assemini, near Cagliari. In line with their Anima Sarda philosophy, Ichnusa supports various traditional craftspeople across the island.

This beer is a bottom-fermented lager, brewed from barley malt and corn and flavoured with hop extract. I first enjoyed this malty beer on a trip to the island of Capri, that’s right next door to Sardinia.

On the Nose

Initially, I get lots of malt and biscuit aromas (reminds me of those malted milk biscuits), with overtones of grass and citrus.

On The Palate

A medium-bodied, relatively dry lager, Ichnusa delivers malty biscuit notes on the palate, with honey sweetness, mild grassy bitterness, and some citrus overtones.

Summary

Ichnusa is a distinctive and flavoursome Sardinian lager that sums up the island’s cheerful Italian spirit.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

4. Forst Premium Lager

Forst Premium Lager
Credit: Forst

Overview

  • Brewery: Forst
  • ABV: 4.8% (9.6 Proof)
  • Country: Italy
  • Colour: Pale Gold

Review

Despite being an Italian beer, Forst Premium Lager was founded by ethnic Germans, with two entrepreneurs launching the brewery in Foresta in South Tyrol near the Italian Alps in 1857. Ownership later passed to the Fuchs family, who have run it ever since.

This beer is a lager, brewed by bottom fermentation from barley malt and corn grit and flavoured with hops. I especially like the heavier carbonation as it brings out more flavour.

On The Nose

Initially, I found its mostly grain and bready malt aromas, with a subtle hint of sweet toffee/caramel.

On The Palate

This beer reveals grain, caramel malt, and straw flavours, with peppery old-fashioned hops in a medium body with plenty of carbonation.

Overall

Forst is a very clean and refreshing lager that makes for easy everyday drinking. More flavours develop as it slowly warms up.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

5. Menabrea Bionda Lager

Menabrea Bionda Lager
Credit: Menabrea

Overview

  • Distiller: Menabrea
  • ABV: 4.8% (9.6 Proof)
  • Country: Italy
  • Colour: Pale Gold

Review

In 1846, Giuseppe Menabrea set up a brewery in the town of Biella in the foothills of the Italian Alps. The Menabrea family has run this operation in this town ever since, producing quality lagers matured in their underground cave cellars.

This pale lager is brewed from barley grown in the Champagne region of France, and brewer’s corn, flavoured with noble hops and aged underground for 30 days in the lagering process.

On the Nose

A floral fruitiness comes through on the nose with grain and citrus notes that’s similar to a Trappist Beer.

On The Palate

The floral fruitiness from the yeast continues on the palate, with sweet malt, citrus notes, and slight hop bitterness with medium carbonation.

Overall

Despite being bottom-fermented, the yeasts used in this lager result in Menabrea Bionda Lager having a distinct, pleasantly fruity nature. Serve chilled.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

6. Menabrea Ambrata Lager

Menabrea Ambrata Lager
Credit: Menabrea

Overview

  • Distiller: Menabrea
  • ABV: 5% (10 Proof)
  • Country: Italy
  • Colour: Amber

Review

Not content to make good pale lager, Menabrea also makes an exceptional Vienna or amber lager. These beers are medium-bodied lagers with toasty, caramelised malt character and a range of hop bitterness.

Menabrea Ambrata is a Vienna or amber lager brewed similarly to Menabrea’s pale lager. However, they add some roasted barley malts to add colour, body, and complexity. They brew to a slightly higher alcohol content to maintain balance.

On the Nose

Aromas of caramel, malt, and earthy bitterness.

On the Palate

A dry, medium body, complex malts, caramel, bready notes, toffee, and fruitiness, leading to a malty finish with a pleasant bitterness. Gently carbonated.

Overall

Although Menabrea Ambrata Lager is an amber lager, it is much easier to drink than average amber beer as it’s not too rich and has a nice bitter kick.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

7. Birricifio Angelo Poretti

Birricifio Angelo Poretti
Credit: Angelo Poretti

Overview

  • Distiller: Angelo Poretti
  • ABV: 4.8% (9.6 Proof)
  • Country: Italy
  • Colour: Pale Gold

Review

In 1877, beer fanatic Angelo Poretti travelled around Austria, Bavaria, and Bohemia to learn how to craft an exceptional beer and to identify the best quality hops.

He returned to his Italian hometown of Valganna in Lombardy (near Lugano in Switzerland) and set up a brewery (birrificio). He numbered each beer after how many different hop varieties were used.

Birrificio Angelo Poretti No. 4 is a pale lager brewed from barley malt and flavoured with four varieties of noble hops, of which Columbus and Zeus are the most prominent. Unusually for an Italian beer, it contains no corn and reminds me of a crisp Mexican beer.

On The Nose

Malt, and caramel show on the nose, with hints of fruitiness, grassiness, and citrus.

On The Palate

Fruity, malty sweetness, and lively, medium hop bitterness display on the palate, with pronounced citrus and grain flavours. Medium carbonation.

Overall

Angelo Poretti No. 4 is a distinctly mild lager with plenty of grain and citrus flavours and is highly esteemed among Italian beer drinkers.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

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Andrew’s Top Pick

best Italian beer

Birra Moretti

My top pick for the best Italian beer is Birra Moretti because it is crisp, light, gently carbonated, and has a nice touch of bitterness to it. Sweet malt and fruit are balanced by a slight grassiness, and bitter floral hops finish.

Italian Beer Q&A

Andrew with Moretti beers
Moretti: For pizza…. and beyond!

Which Is The Most Popular Beer Brand In Italy?

Peroni is the most popular beer brand in Italy, according to AssoBirra. Peroni beer (4.7% ABV; brown bottle, red label) and Nastro Azzurro (5.1% ABV; green bottle, white label) are the most popular Peroni beers worldwide.

Do Italians Drink Beer?

Italians did not traditionally drink much beer, but eating pizza usually calls for beer rather than wine, Amaretto, or Grappa. Young Italians also favour beer when hanging out socially or relaxing in the summer sunshine.

In recent years, beer consumption has grown in Italy, and AssoBirra reported a per capita consumption of 31.7 litres of beer in Italy in 2021, compared to a European average of 56,5 litres.

Conclusion

Although you probably think of Italy as a wine-producing nation, and with good reason, the best Italian beers are packed with delicious malt, hops, caramel and citrus flavours. 

Although influenced by the lagers of Germany, Austria, and Czechia, Italian blond beers have become a distinct style of their own, which is well-worth acquiring a taste for. Don’t forget to wash down your Italian beer with Malfy Italian Gin.

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Further Reading

Below are some additional articles from The Drinks Geek blog. We write articles on several fascinating areas of drinks, including different brands, drink types, cocktail recipes and more.

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