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 totally 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 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 given by the
LAW 28th July 2016, n. 154, art. 35
Annual production of 6 million or less 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. Flavored malt beverages (FMBs) are not considered beers.
The following are some concepts related to craft beer and craft brewers:
Annual production of the Italian craft brewery: less than 200 000 hl.
Brewery legally and economically independent.
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
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: