WHAT IS IT?
A twist on German-style pilsners, Italian pilsners are dry hopped with a big bouquet of Old World varieties. The result is a crisp lager with dialled-up, deeply aromatic layers. Expect flavours of garden herbs like mint and sage, or peppery arugula riding on a lush, lightly bready body.
Colour: Straw to pale gold
Body: Medium light
Bubbles: Medium high
*Loose guidelines as this evolving style has not been officially defined by a brewing body.
The hops. They gotta’ be a mix of German varietals like:
It began with a single beer: Birrifico Italiano’s Tipopils brewed in the town of Limido, Comasco, Italy in 1996. In 2010, taste-making American breweries Firestone Walker and Oxbow made their own “Italian pilsners” in tribute to Tipopils. The style broke out of beer geek circles when Birrifico Italiano sent Tipopils to Firestone Walker’s Invitational Beer Festival, where brewers from around the globe go to find new inspiration. Many went back to their tanks on a mission to brew an Italian pilsner of their own.
Agostino Arioli, brewmaster behind Tipopils, has described Italian pilsners as “birra da meditazione”—or meditation beers. Because when you drink one, you really think about the flavours, and what they remind you of, from geraniums,
to your Nona’s cooking.
• Cubanos & BLTs
• Mezze Platter
• Thai dishes
• Pesto bruschetta
• Fish tacos
Try these made-in-Ontario versions:
• Borraccia Italian Lager, Fixed Gear Brewing
• Glorioso Italian Pilsner, Left Field Brewery
• Marco Polo, Indie Alehouse Brewing
• The Myth of Permanence, Henderson Brewing
Benchmark beers to seek out
• Tipopils, Birrifico Italiano, Italy
• Pivo Pilsner, Firestone Walker Brewing, California
• Lupulo, Oxbow Brewing, Maine
TASTE ONTARIO’S ITALIAN-APPROVED PILS:
When Indie Alehouse designed “Bionda” Italian Pilsner for Birroteca, its brewpub at Eataly Toronto, the lager got the kiss of approval by staffers at Birrifico Italiano and Eataly to label it an “Italian pilsner.” Grab it with third-party takeout apps from Eataly, and soon via the restaurant’s own delivery service.