What is an Italian craft beer?

Italy is one of the countries richest in craft foods. This is thanks to a wide culinary and food culture differing from region to region. It is also well known for its craft beverage, including beer.

But what does Italian craft beer really mean?


(EN) handcraft (more widely craft)= (IT) artigianale.

“Artigianale” literally means “made with hands”, “non-industrial”, “made by an artisan”.

Now, you understand that for beer production this is not wholly possible.

And actually, in Italy, we do not brew in terracotta pots in a woody brewery at the foot of sunny hills dressed like the monks. NO. We do need technologies.

So what do we mean when we say ITALIAN CRAFT BEER?

The American definition of craft is clearly defined, unlike the Italian translation.  I could maybe use the direct translation “artisanal” or “handcrafted”, however, to avoid any confusion I will use the word “craft” as it is an American concept.

To understand the difference between the American concept and the Italian concept, take a look below:  in the chart, you can compare the difference between an American craft brewery and Italian brewery that legally produce “Italian craft beer- birra artigianale italiana“:


The definition is given by the

Craft Brewers Associations


The definition is given by the

LAW 28th July 2016, n. 154, art. 35


Annual production of 6 million or fewer beer barrels.


Less than 25% of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcohol industry member who is not a craft brewer.


A brewer that has a majority of its total beverage alcohol volume in beers whose flavour derives from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation. Flavoured malt beverages (FMBs) are not considered beers.

The following are some concepts related to craft beer and craft brewers:

  • Craft brewers are small brewers.
  • The hallmark of craft beer and craft brewers is innovation. Craft brewers interpret historic styles with unique twists and develop new styles that have no precedent.
  • Craft beer is generally made with traditional ingredients like malted barley; interesting and sometimes non-traditional ingredients are often added for distinctiveness.
  • Craft brewers tend to be very involved in their communities through philanthropy, product donations, volunteering and sponsorship of events.
  • Craft brewers have distinctive, individual approaches in connecting with their customers.
  • Craft brewers maintain integrity by what they brew and their general independence, free from a substantial interest by a non-craft brewer.
  • The majority of Americans live within 10 miles of a craft brewer.

Annual production of the Italian craft brewery: less than 200 000 hl.

  • (= LESS than 167 728,3 Barrel liquid US), as you can read, this is a huge difference.



Brewery is legally and economically independent.



  • Brewery property plant (manufactory plant separate from those of any other brewery).
  • Brewery does not operate under license to use others intellectual property rights.
  • Italian Craft BEER must be Unpasteurized
  • Italian Craft BEER must be Non-micro-filtered


In Italy, many medium/ small breweries produce CRAFT beers, aligned with the American concept of craft beer (for example a flash pasteurized beer). Some distinctive features of those producers?

  • high-quality raw materials (no additive, no surrogates)
  • graduated/ skilled brewmaster
  • passion
  • competence
  • knowledge
Birra Amarcord Brewery

In my personal opinion, also these attributes (not taken into consideration by the Italian law) are important in making not just a craft beer, but also a quality beer. But this article talks about the meaning of “craft”, not quality: I do not think that I need to dwell on this as the issues are actually already well known.


Consumers, brewers and beer lovers thanks to the Italian law, have their birra artigianale italiana  (Italian craft beer… Handcraft Italian beer… Italian artisanal beer): less poetry, more pragmatism. Will this be a great thing? We will see…



For more info:


Brewers Association


9 thoughts on “What is an Italian craft beer?

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