Welcome to my third annual report about homebrewing in Italy.
But first a great CIAO to everybody [...]
Just a few lines about personal brewing: after the big improvements in my technique of the 1996-97 season (mainly achieved thanks to the help of HBD!) in the last year I just tried something new, like brewing lager and culturing yeasts from bottle-conditioned beer.
Let's talk about the homebrewing situation here in Italy: 2 years ago I wrote in HBD that it was almost non-existent compared to US and UK, one year later I told you that "something is moving". Now things are steadily going better.
Kits are now widely available. For other ingredients (grains, hops, yeasts) we still have one main local source, whose catalog keeps improving, e.g. they store specialty grains, hops in every form (pellets, flowers, plugs) and also a good range of Wyeasts. There are probably another handful of shops ditributing some of their products.
The owner estimates the italian homebrewing market in 20000 people now. Of them, the great, great majority are brewing with Kits (i.e. hopped extracts) with a very marginal share of extracts+specialty or all-grain brewers.
From the legal point of view, I finally could find that since 1995 homebrewing is perfectly legal, with no taxation nor any quantity limit as long as the beer is not sold and "is consumed only by the producer, his/her relatives and his/her guests".
Now a subject that could be interesting if you are planning a trip to my country: microbreweries. There were a couple 2 years ago, maybe a handful last year. Now my site lists 20 of them, but I have a dozen more to check and put online. I only had the chance to try one of them and found good quality beers. Generally Italian micro's does not seem so adventurous in their range and offer mainly lagers of different styles. Most are actually brewpubs, with just a few true microbreweries.
Internet beer life also had quite an improvement. Thanks to my Italian Beer Site I had contacts with many people during a year or so, and in last June/July I proposed the creation of an italian Usenet newsgroup on beer, which was voted and created and is now available (probably also in US servers, if any reader would like to practice his Italian...). The group is about beer in general (sort of mix of rec.crafts.brewing and rec.food.drink.beer) but needless to say 80% of posts are homebrew-related. It's called it.hobby.birra.
Thanks to the discussion and advices in the group, many people who partecipate started brewing and/or moved to extract/specialty or even all grain; and the level of discussion is improving as more brewers (sometimes more experienced than me) are joining in.
We are already had a "real life" meeting and, with the help of other brew people (HB retailers, University) we are also planning something more... why not, for example, a small competition? In this case I'll ask here for advices on organization!
Hope this was interesting at least to some people... anyway at 1 report/year it is not a great waste of bandwith ;-)