Last Updated : 16/09/05
I don't know a lot about the Italian brewing scene, but what I do know is not good. it seems to be run by a load of big companies making mediocre "lager" style beers with a few "red" beers available - apparently. Having never been to Italy before 2004, therefore, what I know has been derived from others.
Before we visited Sardinia in January 2004, I spent fruitless hours sweating over the computer trying to rustle up some gen on beer, any beer, on the Island. The search was almost totally fruitless apart from 1 beer - Ichnusa. The stuff seemed to be omnipresent on Sardinia and was allegedly brewed there, maybe set for a brewery tour or at least some good tastings of the stuff in bars. Unfortunately, further investigations unearthed that this brewery is owned by Heineken, and I could find no evidence it is even brewed on the Island anymore - I suspect the worst! (It's actually from Heineken's Milan plant!)
Anyway, to the beer. I wasn't expecting much from an alleged brewery owned by Heineken, and to be honest the beer didn't let me down from my starting point of rock-bottom expectations. We tried it in the station bar at Alghero waiting for a train to Sassari (which turned out to be a bus), which was a lively and characterful place. The place was pretty busy, but a local invited us to share his table and we eventually made a few words of halting conversation in a mixture of English, Italian and German. He was drinking Ichnusa and enthused over the huge 66cl bottle of industrially produced slops, telling me conspiratorially "Ees beer of Sardinia!". Hmmmm, maybe.
I poured some into the small branded glass provided, and was apprehensive to see that the bottle was still stubbornly 75% full and we had 10 minutes to drink it. I gingerly tried a sip - and that was enough to confirm that it was just another tasteless gassy straw coloured fluid blaspheming under the name "beer". The rest of the bottle took a bit of emptying, and we were the last onto the bus to Sassari.
Well, we had scooped the alleged "beer of Sardinia", but believe me, it's not worth the trip. Even at £18 return with Ryotscare, it's just not worth it. The place is fantastic, even the cute little narrow gauge train is pretty good, but Ichnusa? Forget it.
- Second thoughts, February 2005 -
I've since learned that there are several micros on the island all which sound very promising and, with easyJet flying there from spring 2005, we may pay another visit to check it out at some point. Check out www.maxbeer.org and www.beercoasters.it for more information on Italian beer. Ichnusa, however, is made at Heineken's Milan plant!
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