Last weekend I traveled to Rimini in Italy to attend food and beverage expo Sapore, the part of the fair for the beer industry was once called Pianeta Birra now this section is named Selezione Birra Beverage. I had no idea what to expect although I had read a recent blog by Zak Avery on his beer trip in Italy, my personal knowledge is little. Walking in to the expo I first went to the floor plan which was a shocker it shows nine halls and from what I could see each hall twice the size of London's Earls Court, glad I had soft shoes on.
Once battling through the Pasta, Wine and Olive oil halls I finally reached my destination. A large section of the hall was taken up by companies selling Micro brewery equipment which was quite interesting, pretty modern stuff in all sizes and the there was a complete micro brewery fit out that would have fitted in my garden shed...I've kept their card for my records. :)
Further up the hall there was a section with around 40 booths with craft brewers from around Italy showcasing some quite remarkable beers....yep you heard right. The land of Wine is slowly brewing up a craft beer revolution and I noticed most were from Campania a region of south-western Italy, I wonder why that region is so popular and to be honest I never got round asking as I was very busy trying out the goods.
Now these dudes have gone full-out, the ones who have got it right have 6/7 different beers you can see have spent time on branding/marketing plus they all have this beautifully curved bottle which shouts out "I'm Italian" really nice. Other than the brewers smartly dressed in slick Italian suits (I saw no men with breads) another thing I noticed other than the 330ml bottles 70% of them had 1ltr bottles too which I was not too sure was a good or bad thing.
A few names folks you must look out for are:
Berraficio del Ducato
Birrra del Borgo
These guys had some amazing beers and to be fair the standard overall was very impressive. The only downfall was they were not selling bottles (saw me coming) only sampling, so back at my hotel I began the job of finding a specialist beer shop. I asked the front desk if they knew of any and told me there were none in Rimini, which I was quite surprised as it is a busy touristy town but the nearest one they had heard of from a friend of a friend of a friend!! was 40 km away in a small town called Santarcangelo di Romagna.
So a dash to the railway station and finally to Santarcangelo di Romagna, people I was the only one who got off the train and walking out of the station I saw no one and heard nothing which made me a bit edgy but I was on a mission to find beer. This was a very very small town quite dusty cobbled streets a few bikes and the odd Fiat parked in the road, I eventually saw a bar and thought must be life in there! Again empty so I sat at the bar and ordered a beer a Peroni red, never had one before but bloody nice (I was thirsty), I'm not a fan but I'd drink that again if I can find it in the UK.
I began to question the chap behind the bar and immediately he said 'Birroteca Grand Cru' luckily on the same street he told me waving his arm and said I should ask for Q a mate of his. No joke I thought what's this MI5 lol? I got to the shop and walked in, it was busy with a dozen or so people (so this is where everyone was hiding) eyeing up the stock, I met Q who showed me his Italian selection. This shop in this little town had over 700 different beers, quite incredible, I'd never had thought it, beers from Brew Dog to St Peters to Mikkellerthey had them all....I was in heaven!
Seriously so many collaboration beers I'd never heard of and one that got my eye was called My Antonia a collaboration between Dogfish and Birra del Bongo, then I found a beer I'd been looking for a while by Brouwerij de Molen called Hel en Verdoemnis 666 even Q said was awesome. Got together some great beers which now it was the job of getting them home safely.
What a find, I love it when you discover places like this, Q who owns the shop is a really enthusiastic guy and certainly knows his beer, his customers knew what they wanted and one was also earlier at the expo in Rimini and had booked the equipment recently to set up his brewery in this town.
Birroteca Grand Cru -Santarcangelo di Romagna, Italy. The shops website is www.grandcu.it do check it out and if your ever in Rimini do pop in and see Q.