Raising a Toast to Italian Beer

Pizza is now commonly served with a glass of beer in Italy. Photo by Marco Tripisciano

Tuscany, and Italy in general, is not well-known for it’s beer. However, it is becoming an increasingly popular beverage.

Beer is certainly not a new phenomenon in Italy. Enjoyed since ancient times, it become known as a North-Italian drink and was not so popular in the wine-drinking south.

In light of the strong wine history in Italy that meant every Tommaso, Riccardo e Erri had a vineyard in his yard to make wine, beer was actually considered a beverage for the upper-classes who could afford the production expense.

Compared to wine production, making and storing beer actually cost a lot more back then! Even to this day in fact, a pint in Italy will usually cost more than a glass of wine.

Nowadays, beer is the standard beverage of choice when Italians dine on pizza. Nonetheless, Italy is still the lowest consumer of beer in Europe.

Pizza in Italy, by the way, is served one per person, about steering-wheel size and usually quite thin. Toppings are kept to a bare minimum, the standard being the Margherita. The pizza is cut up with cutlery, and is usually not eaten with the hands when in a restaurant (but at home, that’s ok).

Peroni is Italy’s oldest beer, having been established in 1846. Peroni also makes another popular Italian beer, Mastro Azzuro. Moretti is another well-known Italian brew, and is around 150 years old. These are all cheaper varieties that can be bought at supermarkets and found easily in bars around town.

Recently however, a new trend in beer has arisen in the form of artisan beers like honey, fruit, wheat and chestnut beers bottled in chic champagne-like bottles and costing around 10 to 15 euro a pop. These beers are generally not pasteurised, and they are made by small, boutique producers.

So next time you think of having a typical Italian meal, you can opt for a good Italian-style pizza and a glass of beer. You might even want to watch a game of football (soccer) whilst you’re at it!

And as to how you say ‘Cheers’ in Italian: ‘Salute’ (‘health’).

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