According to the largely uninterested locals, who in all honesty will never be turned away from their vino in a month of monkeys, the whole idea of a village brewery is a somewhat eccentric indulgence that they dismiss with smiles, head-shaking and typically Latin hand-flapping gestures - in fact the same sort of reaction I get when they find out I'm there to photograph their wildlife! Anyway it transpires that local born Domenico Francescon became obsessed with beer at college (a pisshead student in other words) before getting down to some serious scientific study of the subject in Germany, culminating in this now four month old project.
The brewery was as far removed from any I've seen, being housed in a large purpose built dwelling at the end of a residential street, incorporating shop, car park and living accommodation for Meni himself I guess. Our late afternoon visit saw the little shop on the point of closing but not before a quick photo-session and the purchase of a few bottles. The girl in charge showed us a sample of the ingredients used and explained a little about each brew and the various styles available - which surprisingly included a stout. Annoyingly we weren't the first white-rosers across the threshold as a passing tourist from Yorkshire had popped in to sample the wares only a few weeks earlier - consequently there was nothing about smoked ferret and blood pudding she hadn't already heard.
Michaela pretends to search for vital Yorkshire beer news. (Innspeak: You're welcome to this one!)
Five beers are permanently brewed, the majority of the output being bottled, with an occasional seasonal special as and when. We were able to get our hands on the latest of these, a cherry ale with added chestnuts(!), which at a whopping 7.8% was very much along the lines of a Belgian fruit beer. The most popular seller was Siriviela, a similar strength pale ale using lager malts which was unfortunately let down by a powerful soapy finish that saw our neighbours that evening quickly back on the pinot nero!
Our local in Fanna did average euro-fizz but excellent Furlan
I was rather hoping there would be something around the 4% mark to chug on but of course like virtually everywhere outside the UK it wasn't to be and in fact the 4.7% Pirinat (stout) was the weakest abv beer available. Whilst being a very good effort at this largely unknown style here, with coffee and chocolate notes and plenty of bitterness, it's very much something to go with your food rather than quaff on. The thing is when your food is essentially pasta, cheese and prosciutto I think I'd rather stick with the wine! Good luck to the guy though - at only twenty-five it takes some balls to try and educate people in the ways of malt 'n' hops, especially in a partisan wine producing neighbourhood like this.
Further info on La Birra di Meni here.