Friday, August 29, 2008

La Birra di Meni

The last thing I was expecting whilst slurping on wine and sucking down cheese in a remote corner of Italy last week was to learn that a micro-brewery had recently started up in the next village. The local bars had provided typically continental fizz (mostly Austrian Adambrau) plus the much more enjoyable Furlan (a wonderful sunset-hued aperitif taking it's name from the people of Friuli and consisting of white wine, lemonade and Aperol) but nothing to seriously session on or extol the virtues of here. This discovery then induced the kind of adrenaline rush not normally experienced outside of Folly Hall during festival week and led to a rare excursion from Fanna to sample the brews in nearby Cavasso Nuovo. (photo: La Birra di Meni website)

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.


Leigh said...

nice post and piccy's, mate!

a swift one... said...

Thanks Leigh. The downside was totally missing out on Leeds' August special Monsoon IPA, which I heard was something very special indeed.

Festa teh Monkey said...

Should have popped down the Monkey - we had it on till 28th August!
Cheers Festa

Anonymous said... is the website for La Birra di Meni

Anonymous said...

Ma non ci posso credere! Ma è possibile che dopo avere bruciato le papille gustative in Italia, la Birra di Meni ora stia esportando i suoi olezzi e i suoi sapori di asfalto, catrame e rancido anche all’estero? Che pena per i degustatori…incredibile che una schifezza del genere sia stata riconosciuta all’estero…evidente, sempre più evidente il fatto di come si possano vincere premi e riconoscimenti passando bustarelle e altri intrallazzi del genere…Non ci posso davvere credere che la nauseabonda Birra di Meni si stia affermando sugli scaffali della birre piuttosto che su quelli dei diserbanti o dei solventi industriali. Ma questa, si sa, è l’Italia! Adieux!

Will said...

TRANSLATION: “I cannot believe it. But is it possible that after having burnt the taste buds in Italy, La Birra di Meni is now exporting its’ stenches and flavours of asphalt, tar and rancid(ity) abroad? What pain/sorrow for the tasters…’s incredible that rubbish of this kind would be recognised abroad….evidently, and ever more evidently, is the fact of how one can win prizes and recognition passing bribes and other intrigue. I can’t believe that the nauseating Birra di Meni is asserting itself on beer shelves rather than those of weed killers or industrial solvents. But this, as you know, is Italy.”

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I have just returned from the Fruili regrion In Italy. The surprisingly refreshing Birra Di Meni was absolutely wonderful. I met Meni himself at a festival in Casarsa on July 6, 2011 and then visited the brewery on the following monday. Its a must to try the "Serivila" by Birra di Meni!
BRAVO, Meni, Bravo !!! The Anonymous post above and the following posted by "Will" is an absolute representation of spite and I find the taste repulsive. WHy leave it there????

Will said...

My "post" was simply a translation of the previous one for those non-Italian speakers. Personally I enjoyed Meni's beer and I imagine it's even better three years on. Glad you enjoyed it & I'm looking forward to a return trip myself. Will.