Well sock it to me! Brewfist Italian Ales is our brewery of the month for March. It was almost three years ago that I discovered this great Italian brewery while on a trip to Rome and let me tell you: it completely changed my perspective on Italian beer.
Obviously the Italians are famous for their wines--and rightfully so. However, there has historically been a strong brewing tradition in the northern part of the country, where Brewfist hails from. Since brewing their first beer in late 2010, Brewfist, alongside other great Italian breweries like Toccalmatto and Birra del Borgo, have put new wave Italian beers on the, well, map.
In recent years, the Italian beer scene has become one of the better-established beer scenes in Europe. Sure there are the stalwarts like the UK, Copenhagen and the Czech Republic, yet when considering that beer has to struggle against a strong cultural tide in countries like Italy it is all-the-more impressive that there are breweries like Brewfist that have people mentioning "Italy" and "beer" in the same sentence.
When I was in Rome a few years ago I was really impressed at how much craft beer has been embraced in the city. From restaurants emphasizing beer-and-food pairing matches to bars featuring exclusively Italian microbrews to some of the best bottle shops I've seen on the continent, it was clear that beer is ready to re-write history.
Brewfist is great at giving respect to the cherished Italian artisan while also embracing modern techniques and trends. For example, we've been able to get our hands on a special version of their Spaghetti Western Imperial Stout that has been aged in grappa barrels--a reverent nod to the great Italian grape. Conversely, the American craft-beer influence is obvious in the Spaceman IPA, my Brewfist first and still-favorite. Packed full of American hops (Simcoe, Citra, and Columbus) it is a juicy--and very American--West Coast IPA. Finally, collaborations with other great breweries are a big part of the range--like their Spaghetti Western collaboration with the Oklahoma-based Prairie Artisan Ales.
Suffice it to say, with all the great stuff coming out of Italy and becoming more readily-available here in the UK (hint-hint: we'll be getting more Italian lines in at some point as well) I'm super excited that we're able to feature Brewfist this month as our Brewery of the Month. I just wish we had done this awhile ago--I would've saved a fortune on the overweight baggage I paid to get our Brewfist bounty home from Italy.