Over the last few decades, Italy has been proving to the world that its love for flavor, highlighting the use of local ingredients, translates to beer.
The best Italian beers will convince you that Italy isn’t just about wine and dining.
Did you know that the nutritional value of beer is higher than wine’s and even closer to that of food? You might be switching your wine glass for a beer mug by the end of this article.
The 7 Best Italian Beers
Like Italian food, Italian beer is unique because of its authentic local ingredients. Let us take you through a brew-tiful experience as we explore the best Italian beers.
1) Peroni Nastro Azzurro – Best Overall
- From: Birra Peroni Industriale S.p.A.
- Style: European Pale Lager
- Alcohol Content: 5.1%
Growing old doesn’t mean losing to the young; our BEST OVERALL pick proves that.
The Nastro Azzurro comes from Italy’s oldest brewery, the Peroni Brewery. Francesco Peroni founded the Peroni Brewery in the small town of Vigevano in 1846.
It was only until the 1960s that the brewery started creating the Nastro Azzurro in Rome, Italy’s capital.
This premium beer doesn’t have Peroni on its label when sold locally. It is labeled Peroni Nastro Azzurro throughout the rest of the world to highlight that it is part of the Italian Peroni family.
It is exported to all continents and is consistently the best-selling Italian beer around the world.
The beer’s special ingredient is the Nostrano maize, which grows exclusively on Italian soil. It is not genetically engineered, an agricultural anomaly for corn crops.
The Nostrano maize is responsible for the dry yet very aromatic characteristic of the Nastro Azzurro.
This Italian beer has a golden color that can be compared to Prosecco. It is crisp with scents of citrus that are balanced by delicate bitterness notes.
The balanced bitterness makes it a refreshingbeer that can be paired with any food, red meats, or pasta dishes.
2) Birra Moretti L’Autentica – Best Value
- From: Birra Moretti (Heineken)
- Style: European Pale Lager
- Alcohol Content: 4.6%
From another world-famous brand comes our BEST VALUE pick, Birra Moretti. Yes, the one with the iconic Moustache.
Luigi Moretti created the brewery in the town of Udine in 1859. It has been an Italian brewery throughout.
More than a hundred years after Luigi Moretti established the brewhouse, a Dutch company called HeinekenItalia bought it.
The Italians were unhappy and brought the Italian Antitrust Authority into the picture.
The Heineken factory manufactured Moretti but sold the trademark back to the Italian company Birra Castello.
Companies have been fighting over this Italian beer brand because of its unique brews that excellently counter a hot day under the Italian sun.
Its brew is made from malted barley, maize, and hops, whose brewing process results in a golden-colored beer.
It has a balanced taste between fruity notes and moderate hoppy bitterness, leaving you bright and refreshed.
Also try: Birra Moretti la Rossa
Try the La Rossa beer from Moretti if you’re more fond of ales. It is a doppelbock double malt brewed with barley and hops containing 7.2% ABV.
It tastes like dark chocolate, toffee, and molasses. It leaves you with a bitter aftertaste that distinguishes it from other Italian beers.
3) Cortigiana – Best Budget
- From: Birra Del Borgo
- Style: Belgian Pale Ale
- Alcohol Content: 5%
The Cortigiana, our BEST BUDGET pick, is an Italian beer, especially for those who are fans of ales.
Aside from the usual barley malt and hops, it is brewed with alternative cereals like buckwheat, einkorn, and oat flakes. Lots of spice is also added to this Italian beer.
The resulting brew is a medium-bodied golden ale with a smooth texture. It tastes vanilla essence and cinnamon with hints of ginger, orange peel, and coriander.
Flavorful beers like the Cortigiana are best enjoyed through a tulip glass. However, tourists get too amused when they see the uniqueness of the Cortigiana bottle and drink straight from it.
4) Peroni Gran Riserva Bianca
- From: Birra Peroni Industriale S.p.A.
- Style: Bock
- Alcohol Content: 6.6%
Another entry from Italy’s oldest and most popular brewing company is the Peroni Gran Reserva series.
The Peroni Gran Riserva was launched in 1996 during the 150th-anniversary celebration of the Peroni Brewery. 150 years was a significant milestone for them, mainly as they are located in a wine-centered country.
The Italian beers in the series that come with the Gran Riserva Doppio Malto are the Gran Riserva Rossa, Gran Riserva Puro Malto, and the Gran Riserva Bianca.
The Doppio Malto is an award-winning beer brewed from Saaz hops and Prisma barley malt.
The special ingredient for this Italian beer is the Prisma barley malt. Itis notable for its low yield, and the malt used in the brew is 100% grown in Italy only.
It is aged for 8 weeks at low temperature resulting in its mature taste that is sweet yet acidic. This coppery brew has taste notes of cereals, caramel, toasted malt, and slight spice.
The bottles for the entire Gran Reserva series are the same around the world.
The standardized bottles are small long-necked bottles that look similar to wine bottles. This is to highlight the Italian way of serving beer.
5) Menabrea Birra Bionda
- From: Birra Menabrea SpA
- Style: Lager
- Alcohol Content: 4.8%
Birra Menabrea is another old Italian brewhouse founded in 1846 in Piedmont, Italy.
Menabrea brews all of its beers using pure mountain water from the Biella Alps and ferments them in their cave cellars.
Their particularity with the water and fermentation method allowed them to produce the high-quality Menabrea beer for more than 170 years.
Among its beers, the Menabrea Bionda Lager is renowned for its refined taste. It combines citrus, fruity, and floral notes, balancing this complexity with a slight bitterness.
Once you pour this Italian beer into your mug, it is sealed with a persistent head. This beer’s superior raw materials and brewing process make all this possible.
Also Try: Menabrea Birra Ambrata
If you’re looking for good ale, check out the Menabrea Birra Ambrata. It is a full-bodied amber beer with 5% ABV.
It exhibits tasting notes of toasted grain, caramel, toffee, and nuttiness. It is overall moderately bitter yet still enjoyable to drink.
6) Forst Premium Lager
- From: Brauerei Forst AG
- Style: Lager
- Alcohol Content: 4.8%
The brewery is also one of Italy’s oldest, founded in 1857 in Algund, Italy.
It is located in the foothills of the Alps. It takes advantage of its convenient access by using fresh, natural spring water for all brewed beers.
This premium lager is well-balanced between hops and malts. It is light and crisp, distinctively fragrant, and tastes of lemon and grains with nothing too overpowering.
Overall it is versatile and easy to pair with anything. Its lightness and the right amount of carbonation make it a great refreshing end to a tiring, hot day.
Also Try: Forst Sixtus Doppelbock
If you prefer an ale instead, get the Forst Sixtus Doppelbock. It has a velvety texture with 6.5% ABV.
This doppelbock showcases an intense aroma of roasted malts and notes of toasted spices and caramel.
7) Quarta Runa
- From: Birra Montegioco
- Style: Belgian Ale
- Alcohol Content: 7%
Birra Montegioco is a small brewery in Piedmont, Italy, founded in 2006. They are famous for their sour ales and other specialty beers in the international markets.
Their bottles are hard to miss. They are wrapped in bright colored paper with a twist seal. Quarta Runa offers the world Italy’s fruity flavors in a yellow-wrapped bottle with an orange tip.
Quarta Runa belongs to their line of unique beers but stands out because of its peach flavor. It is explicitly brewed using locally baked peaches grown from Volpedo.
Aside from its peach tasting notes, it also gives you a delectable sample of other hints of baked fruits and spices.
This thirst-quenching silky beer is best complemented with fruit pie, camembert cheese, and fig preserve.
The out-of-this-world experience brought about by drinking the Quarta Runa makes it a tremendous celebratory beer.
A Brief History of Italian Beer
Small breweries produced different variations of beer for their locals, but invasions destroyed them later.
This decline went further downhill. The association of beer with the invading Romans caused its bad reputation among the rest of the Italians.
The agricultural soil of the country did not help either. Grapes grew easier and better than the grains and hops for beer.
A few breweries started sprouting again in the 1800s.
It was difficult for these small-scale breweries to thrive because of the first and second World Wars, when supplies for ingredients were short.
In the early 1970s, beer in Italy kicked off, all thanks to pizza. Many pizzerias started to serve beer to pair with pizza showcasing the country’s passion for flavors.
Ten years after, beer consumption in Italy reached millions of hectolitres.
Today, Italy offers its flavorful brews to beer drinkers around the globe. Not only that, but Italy has also entered the craft beer world.
It has produced unique beers, such as IPAs, IGAs, and honey beers, that delight many beer enthusiasts.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
These are the most frequently asked questions about the topic!
What Is the Most Popular Beer in Italy?
It has to be Peroni Nastro Azzurro.
Peroni is the most enjoyed beer brand in Italy. This is true even amidst all the other brands of the most popular Italian beers, both major and craft.
Among the Peroni beer lineup, the most popular is the Nastro Azzuro. It hits the perfect spot for the locals with its alcohol content and tasteful notes.
What Beer Do People Drink in Italy?
Lagers, but it’s a close competition with the other beer styles.
Lagerhas been a constant favorite for the Italians throughout its beer history up to the present. Italians lovefruity lagers even more. Aside from being flavorful, fruity lagers are enjoyed for being strong.
The growing creativity of the Italians resulted in the rise in popularity of other beer styles from different breweries. The other most popular Italian beers are the IPA, golden ale, stout, and IGA.
Does Italy Have Good Beer?
Of course, they do.
Italians make beer with the utmost respect for the finest local ingredients as they do with food. We all know how particular they are with the details of flavors and how they are achieved.
An outstanding example would be the IGA or the Italian grape ale. This brew defines Italy’s flavors. It is created using a special variety of grapes local to Italy.
Other exceptional beers are the Loverbeer, made from local plums, and the Quarta Runa,created from local peaches.
Why Is Moretti So Popular?
It is because of its rich history, award-winning taste, and Moustache. Birra Moretti continues to exist for more than 160 years.
It gained attention through controversially involving the Italian Antitrust Authority when Heineken acquired the brewing company in 1996.
It gained a stronger foothold as one of the most popular Italian beers when it won silver and gold in the 2006 World Beer Cup.
The label of this Italian beer is iconic because of the mustached drinker. He started to appear on Moretti’s labels in 1952, and since then, beer lovers have seen themselves as a mustached drinker.
It is now popular not only in Italy but also around the world.
To help you with that to-buy list, here’s a recall of our top picks:
Best Budget: Birra del Borgo Cortigiana
At its price point, you’re paying for a 750-ml bottle of high-quality refreshing beer.
Locals and tourists will agree with us when we say that the Birra del Borgo Cortigiana is the most affordable good beer you’ll enjoy in Italy.
We’re sure you won’t miss its uniquely-shaped bottle when you go through the store aisles, too!
Best Value: Birra Moretti L’Autentica
Widely distributed, Birra Moretti is a traditional Italian beer made accessible to you.
Pop open that beer with the mustached drinker on its label, and you’ll find out why companies have fought over this beer brand, credits to the mass-producing factories of these companies for the affordable price of Birra Moretti.
Best Overall: Peroni Nastro Azzurro
More than 170 years of beer brewing means something, and it’s not hard to find out what it is.
Finding a bottle or two of Peroni Nastro Azzurro bottles is easy. When you do, take a sip, and you’re sure to know what makes Italian beer different.
Its notes, from aromatics, to taste, will make you appreciate the quality of locally-sourced Italian ingredients.
Feel free to have a full Italian experience of flavors. This beer can easily be paired with any food, more so Italian food.
No matter what Italian beer you choose, you’re sure to drink the finished product of high-quality materials and top-tier brewing methods.
Each locally-sourced ingredient in your brew will be highlighted by how they are processed.
All the complexities will result in notes that erupt like invading cannons, all contained in your beer bottle regardless of its shape or packaging.