Nestled in the Alpine foothills, the picturesque market town of Biella is a place of pilgrimage for beer connoisseurs. Why? It’s home to the premium Italian beer, Menabrea.
Traditionally, when you think of Italy, beer perhaps might not be the first thing that comes to mind. Yet, the northern region of Piedmont is known for its fantastic food, pretty pastoral landscapes and ice-cold beer.
Established in 1846 by Giuseppe Menabrea, the award-winning Menabrea beer has been brewed by the same family for five generations – more than 170 years. That knowledge has been passed down to great, great, great grandson Franco Thedy, who’s been running the business since 2005.
But Franco believes Menabrea to Biella is about far more than just beer. “It’s the oldest existing brewery in Italy,” he says. “Brewing is an important part of Biella’s history and culture.”
And history is arguably what makes this beer unique. In fact, when Giuseppe Menabrea first travelled to Biella in the 19th century, he discovered an underground cave system, ideal for the traditional process of “lagering”. The caves, combined with the pure water straight from the Alps and the cold fresh air of the region makes Biella the perfect location for brewing.
Fast-forward to 2019 and Menabrea is still brewing its award-winning beer on the same site. Although the method and family haven’t changed, the tools have since been upgraded and modernised.
“We source the highest-quality ingredients available: water, barley, hops and yeast,” he says. “Then the beer is gently aged for at least 30 days in our caves.”
It’s the product of five generations of Italian passion, heritage and culture. “I was too young to really remember the first time I tried beer,” says Franco. “But I remember coming to the brewery with my father and watching him work.”
Franco often gets asked why he wanted to work in the family business, where he has been involved for just over 50 years. “I wouldn’t want it to be taken over by someone who doesn’t understand the brewery, its quality and everything it stands for,” he adds.
Whether Franco’s children will want to continue the family-run business remains to be seen. “My daughters, aged 10 and 12, already love beer,” says Franco. “I’ve taught them how to pour the perfect pint.”
The path to Menabrea
Located in quaint Biella, at the base of the Italian Alps, the family-run Menabrea brewery is the oldest in Italy.
Enjoy Piedemonte-inspired dishes across the UK at exclusive dining events in October, and experience Italy the Menabrea way.
To find out more, visit menabrea.co.uk/dine-with-menabrea