The New European beer scene

Slightly provocative title, in that I don't know whether there is one!

I've heard the odd good thing about the Italian beer scene, and am visiting there next week, so would welcome anything on that - styles, what they're trying to do (copy the rest of Europe / America or resurrect native styles which have been lost? I've heard of a tantalising "Grape beer" style but never seen it).

I'd also widen the question to Europe in general: are traditional brewing nations responding to the US/craft thing, and how?

I guess I've got personal experience of 2 things:
  • There seemed to be a number of "beer-bars" in Turin when I visited a couple of years ago, testifying to there being a scene, but on finding I was English, was offered a freebie of a "British Pale Ale" which was nice enough but obviously made with with Belgian(!) yeast - didn't have the heart to point it out...
  • I've stumbled across a few Belgian "Tripel IPAs", which I presume to be a nod to highly-hopped US IPAs on a Belgian base - not my style and didn't think they worked, and for all I know, are a trad style anyway.
Probably me banging on about the Italian beer scene :oops:

Baladin probably the biggest name in modern era (but maybe that's my regional bias), and a range worth exploring.
Lover beer do a grape/beer 'D'uva Beer', which uses grape must (I hadn't noticed before - it's Freisa, a lovely grape). I enjoyed the beer when I had it, bought from Beers of Europe.
Birra del Borgo was good, but I'm not sure what Inbev ownership will / has done to them. Unlikely to be a positive change!
Often quite localised, so what I know from Piemonte may be unknown to a Napolitano/a

Styles, many 'copies' but often not a direct copy and often better at the dinner table than what they are supposedly imitating.Plus that Italian sense of adventure such that grape must might go in one, herbs & spices in another, egyptian grains in another etc.

I was down in Borough Market today, and was struck by the eclectic mix there, so that might be a good provoker to what's new. I noticed at least three (rather pricey) beers actively marketed as having Brett, so it seems there might be an active Natural Beer movement ;):D

p.s. I do recall a specialist beer place heading south out of the city (of Bologna) Birreria Amadeus – via G. Dagnini 1
plus this one I noted for a later visit, but we never made it there: Il Birrato (beers) Via San Mamolo, 150/4

Worth checking they're still there before making a journey

Probably one area that Eataly might be worth a look for, as the Torino shop certainly has a strong range.
Thanks Ian - they're certainly bigging the beer selection up at the Eataly theme park. I'll definitely seek out a Grape Ale. Think you pointed me towards Freisa in Piedmont, which I enjoyed so will see if I can find the Lover one (and if not, BOE!).

I don't think we've really discussed the general effect of craft on even the UK on here. I'd typify the effect on the UK scene as:
  • a general raising of standards (even dyed-in-the-wool real ale brewers have had to up their game
  • a possibly overwhelmning fascination with Pacific hops and the styles which accompany them (APA, "IPA")
  • in a few brewers (for me, those who are really trying for quality eg St Austell, Thornbridge), a willingness to pay respect to the traditional European styles (as well as do the "Pacific" styles)
  • nothing much surging forward as a new, or revived, British style?
Be interesting to see the Bolognese take on this.
Hi Rob
Others will be closer to the heartbeat, but for me recent UK trends are:
- Still increasing micro/small brewery scene. The landscape compared to what I recall when in my teens is unrecognisable in a very good way indeed
- More general experimentation though still plenty of breweries having a predictable 'cover the bases' range. Agree some look towards Belgium for their inspiration (I find the same also true of Italy, but they also have an eye on the UK style beers)
- Labelling, with cans becoming a viable option, has kicked on, with much more inventiveness (graphic designers must be happy)
- The ultra hopped styles aren't my thing and TBH I'm not a big fan of IPA style, though perhaps my prejudice too ingrained from my youth.
- Enjoying a resurgence in Porters and not simply dark sweet treacley with/without bitterness. Definitely seeing more innovative & complex porters

As an aside, I popped out after work this week to pick some wild hops for the security guard at work - he enjoys making his own beers. A rather pleasant way to wind down after work, with a short walk in nature, and a little old-fashioned foraging (making a change from blackberry picking). I'm presuming those would have been cultivated hops back a few decades ago, which have survived and carved their place in the area.

Definitely seeing more innovative & complex porters

Yes, I was wondering whether that was the one pushing forward - certainly seem to be seeing more and more in pubs (perhaps fewer in bottles?), and I think there's a good case for it being unique to Britain (and its close relation to Ireland). Although I don't drink all that much Porter/Stout, it lends itself to a lot of different styles, most of which I like, from Milk to Oatmeal Stout through to Foreign Extra/Export Stout and to "flavoured" porters - I've seen plum, coffee, chocolate and Vimto(!) in recent months. There's always been a case for Mild being our last unique style, but people just don't seem to get it - I love it.

Having said I like mild, you won't be surprised to find me sharing your view on (US) IPAs too much. I can get through gallons of more British-style IPAs though - Proper Job and Jaipur for example from the breweries I mentioned above, and Fuller's Bengal Lancer, seem much more balanced than US versions. However, a good example of US Pale Ale (without the India) goes down very well, and I've only found the odd Brit version of APA which compares to the originals.

Foraging for others - a fine example of community spirit at work :)