Italians love birra: beer. Here is a list of the best-known beers that Italians drink. These popular Italian beers are widely distributed here in Italy, but you can also find many of them for sale in the US.
As you will see, many of the most popular Italian beer brands are now foreign-owned, but are still produced in Italy, like Peroni and Angelo Poretti. Others on the list are Italian owned and produced and use Italian ingredients, like Birra del Borgo and Baladin. And though they may not be popular on a large scale, Italy also has scores of local craft breweries making high-quality Italian beer.
Have no fear: I’ve also included how to pronounce the Italian beers on this list, so you can order and talk about them with confidence.
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WHERE TO BUY ITALIAN BEER
Most of the Italian beer brands on this list are available at stores or online in the US. In Italy, you can find most of them in bottles at big supermarkets and alimentari (small food stores), or specialty stores. They are also available at bars, pubs and some restaurants. Some of these companies have their own brewery tap rooms, or their own birrerie con cucina (gastropubs), like Forst, Angelo Poretti and Baladin.
TOP 10 ITALIAN BEER BRANDS
Peroni is a very popular, widely distributed Italian beer. It was founded by Francesco Peroni in Vigevano, near Pavia, Lombardy, in 1846- back when Italy wasn’t even a nation yet. Though today Peroni is owned by Asahi, it is made in Italy at plants in Bari, Rome and Padua. Peroni’s classic red label beer is a lager made from 100% Italian malt. There is also the Peroni Gran Riserva line, that includes a bianca (white, a weiss) and puro malto (pure malt, a premium lager). Peroni launched their famous pilsner Nastro Azzurro, which means blue ribbon, in 1963.
Listen to how to pronounce Peroni:
Moretti is another easy-to-recognize Italian beer that can be traced back to the 1800s. The brand was founded in 1859 by Luigi Moretti in Udine, a city in northeastern Italy. Though Moretti was bought by Heineken in 1996, it proclaims that its ricetta originale, or original recipe, is still made the same way it was back at the beginning. My husband would agree- he estimates he’s drunk gallons of Moretti in his lifetime. Look for the man with the mustache on the label.
Listen to how to pronounce Moretti:
Poretti rhymes with Moretti, our last Italian beer brand, but I assure you they’re not the same! Angelo Poretti founded his brewery in 1877 in the town of Valganna, near Varese, Lombardy. Poretti’s beers bear the word hops in Italian: luppoli, for example 4 Luppoli, 7 Luppoli, and 9 Luppoli. The company is owned by Carlsberg, but you can visit Poretti’s unique Liberty style brewery in Induno Olona Va outside of Varese, in northern Italy.
Listen to how to pronounce Angelo Poretti:
Menabrea is probably the most highly respected non-artisanal Italian beer brand. It is still brewed in Biella, Piedmont (near the Alps) at the oldest working brewery in Italy, which was founded in 1846. Menabrea became part of the Forst Group in 1991. Menabrea fans can visit the Mebo Museum in Biella, which is part Menabrea beer museum, part Botalla cheese museum.
Listen to how to pronounce Menabrea:
Though the name might not sound like it, Forst is an Italian beer brand from the Alto Adige, a region in the very north of Italy, near the border with Austria. It was founded in 1857 near Merano, in the mountains. Forst is on tap locally in Italian skiing chalets in the mountains, but is also widely distributed throughout Italy. You can also taste Forst beers in Spiller restaurants, which are pubs that serve food and Forst, in Milan and other northern Italian cities.
Listen to how to pronounce Forst:
Birra Raffo is a lager originally produced in the southern city of Taranto, Apulia- the heel of the Italian boot. The company was founded by Vitantonio Raffo in 1919, and the name Raffo became synonymous with beer for the people of Taranto. Even though it is now owned by Peroni (Asahi) and is produced in the city of Bari, Raffo is still well-loved in Taranto and part of the city’s identity, and harder to find in the rest of Italy.
Listen to how to pronounce Raffo:
Ichnusa is not only Italian beer, it’s Sardinian beer. Ichnusa bottles proudly bear the flag of the beautiful Italian island, where the Ichnusa brand was launched in 1912 by Amsicora Capra. In fact, Ichnusa gets its name from Hyknusa, the ancient Greek name for Sardinia. Though the company is now owned by Heineken, Ichnusa, a hoppy lager, is produced locally at the brewery in Assemini, near Cagliari.
Listen to how to pronounce Ichnusa:
Messina is another Italian beer brand that bears the name of the place where it was born: the city of Messina, on the island of Sicily. It was founded in 1923 by the Presti-Feranda family, and the beer was originally in the city center. Now the company is owned by Heineken, and the majority is produced in Massafra, Apulia. However, thanks to a heroic group of Sicilian brewers who fought hard to keep on producing in Sicily, Birra Messina Cristalli di Sale (salt crystals), a lager made with Sicilian sea salt, is still brewed in Sicily. Whether it’s Messina’s yellow label classic lager, or their newer Cristalli di Sale, in my opinion Messina’s ornate baroque-inspired bottles win the prettiest label award.
Listen to how to pronounce Messina:
BIRRA DEL BORGO
This Italian beer company is the youngest on this list. Birra del Borgo was founded in 2005 in a small town called Borgorose, at the gates of the Monti della Duchessa nature reserve, between the Italian regions of Lazio and Abruzzo. Birra del Borgo prides itself on using local ingredients, such as native yeasts and farro grains from the mountains near the brewery, and local area malt. At their brewery in Spedino (Borgorose), Birra del Borgo makes Cortigiana, a spiced Belgian blanche-style beer; limited editions; and seasonal beers in addition to their classics like ReAle, DucAle, and Duchessa.
Listen to how to pronounce Birra del Borgo:
Baladin is the brainchild of master brewer Teo Musso, a pioneer of artisanal Italian brewing. Baladin started out in 1986 as a pub in Piozzo, a small town in wine country near Cuneo, Piedmont (northwestern Italy) and became a brew pub 10 years later, when Musso started making his own beer and selling it there. Baladin has since grown into a whole world that includes beer, cider, farmland, pubs throughout Italy and abroad, gastropubs including Open Baladin Roma and even resorts.
Nazionale (National), billed the first 100% Italian 100% craft beer, is a blonde ale made entirely in Italy, with barley malt and hops from Baladin’s own Italian fields, homegrown yeast, and alpine water.
Listen to how to pronounce Baladin:
Cin cin and enjoy your Italian beer!