Venetian Wanderings | Episode 20: 32 Via dei Birrai
Today we're not going to visit a local restaurant or eatery, but a microbrewery in the Venetian countryside! Our train leaves at 8:31 am and is headed to Treviso, where we'll change for Montebelluno.
Loreno Michielin is waiting for us and will take us to his brewery in Onigo di Pederobba, the well known 32 Via dei Birrai. I had never met him before but the moment I saw him I knew we were going to have a good time. Before the actual visit, we stopped for a coffee in front of the Conegliano hills, so beautiful and calming...
Loreno was born and raised in the area and has definitely lived a full life. He started this business together with Alessandro Zilli and Fabiano Toffoli about 11 years ago and they are all totally committed to it. But let's start from the beginning: here we are, this is 32 Via dei Birrai, the first Italian microbrewery to have obtained the ISO 9001:2008 and CI certificates, guaranteeing a product that is 100% made in Italy! I don't know about you, but I'm very excited.
The impressiveness of the brand's logo makes it immediately clear that the place is a mine of new ideas.
In fact, as soon as you walk in, a whole creative world opens, colourful and vibrating with positive energy. I was amazed, everything is made with empty beer bottles and bottle stoppers: from the curtains to the lamps, and even the walls! The three partners responsible of this have been incredible: the aim was to make a genuine high quality beer that enhances local products, returning something positive to the territory.
With regard to this, besides employing local staff, Via 32 dei Birrai has recently added a braille sign on every bottle with the name of that particular beer and donates 3 cents of every sold bottle to Fondazione Lucia Guderzo Onlus, an association for blind children.
The gadgets too are produced locally, from the wooden items to the beer tasting glasses.
When you choose to buy 32 Via dei Birrai, you aren't only buying a drink, you are entering a fun and entertaining world.
The selection of beers can be beautifully and elegantly presented in a wooden case, enriched by a detailed description of the beer's features, or ...
as a game! This is just one of the many versions available. The enthusiasm of the people involved can be seen everywhere, maybe not every piece and wine case is unique...but -at least from what I've seen- nearly!
The latest version is a wooden case that, when closed, becomes a letter box! I got one as a present, full of beer! You'll see it in the following days because I want to try one of the recipes in 32 Via dei Birrai's website ( read recipes).
From the offices we moved to the storage areas, full of boxes of beer ready to be delivered.
The packaging is so nice and colourful that I feel like a child again. But instead of Charlie in the chocolate factory...I'm Nicky in the microbrewery! Wo ho, so much better! And look there: wow, what a mini-van! Isn't it cute??? Thank God I don't have a driving license...otherwise who knows what would happen!
With the typical hospitality that characterises Italians, Loreno immediately offered us a beer. Here he is: proudly showing us one of the creations of this brewery: Atra, a top-fermented brown ale with aromas of coffee, caramel and chocolate. Amazing. I think it was awarded as one of the best beers by Foodwinebeer in 2013 and I can understand why.
The following room was the actual brewery. The first thing I noticed was its cleanliness and order, in fact Loreno explained us that, in order to obtain a perfect beer, the environment must always be sterilised and that every passage must be absolutely flawless. It's all a question of temperatures and processes.
Another thing that impressed me was the lovely smell. The place had a sort of sweet and super pleasant scent and I think it was the barley. At 32 Via dei Birrai they use excellent Italian and German malt, while the yeasts are made in the nearby area. All ingredients are organic and GMO free, the water is extremely pure and the energy used is 100% green.
32 Via dei Birrai offers 8 varieties of beer and we got to taste three: Atra, Audace (a strong and spiced fermented ale) and Nectar (a dark double malt top-fermented chestnut honey beer... OMG!!!).
All beers, except Nectar, are perfect for vegans and produced in limited quantities. All 32's beers are not pasteurised, re-fermented in the bottle, unfiltered and top-fermented, guaranteeing a genuine, natural and delicious product. Suffice to say the 32 exports in countries like Ireland and Germany! Now, that's impressive...
The final area we visited was where the bottles are labelled and then placed in a refrigerator. Like before, the room was clean and spotless.
But now let's go back to the fun stuff: more tasting. Back in the office we sat down and tried the famous Nectar, a beer made with chestnut honey from Monte Grappa, characterised by a pleasantly bitter balsamic and herbaceous aftertaste, with a light acidity due to the roasted barley.
Excellent, as suggested on 32's website, served with flavourful cheese and cold cuts.
The room was rich in curious objects and pieces of furniture. Most things are obtained with recycled material and there is great attention to sustainability. 32 has recently re-interpreted the wine carton box, transforming its parts into reusable objects: the bottle separators become leaflets for customers, the box a Cartomeccano - game invented by their team, a sort of lego that replaces the plastic bricks with parts of the carton box-, and now also into business cards!
While what you see here below is a beer dispenser. Yes, because I still haven't told you that 32 offers 75 cl and not 33 cl bottles, so this stunning object solves the problem in case you only wanted a glass of beer (even if I doubt this will happen). The choice of producing only 75 cl bottles is dictated by the fact that it would oblige them to compete with the great distribution, which would then also oblige them to make different operational choices. And they don't want this.
The final beer we tried was Audace, one of my favourites: a spiced top-fermented ale, with a fresh bouquet of citrus, peach, almonds and flowers. Perfect for the summer.
I don't know all the places where you can drink 32 in Venice, but I'm sure you can find it Da Aldo (Address: F.ta degli Ormesini No. 2710, 30121 Venice, Italy), at Antica Drogheria Mascari in Rialto and at Osteria Plip in Mestre.
32 is sold in America and in different European countries and can also be purchased online (their official importer is Italian Craft Beers ltd.).
If it's your first time, I recommend buying a tasting box (like Passione or Paper), so you can decide which is your favourite. I got an Admiral, an Audace, a Curmi and an Oppale and I'm trying to figure out what recipe to make... but I'll let you know soon.
I have to say goodbye now, but if you want to learn more explore their website and browse through their magazine, source of interesting news and info, and take some inspiration from their recipe page. Oh, yes, I forgot to tell you that 32 via dei Birrai also makes beer vinegar, so good!
Address: Via Cal Lusent, 41, 31040 Pederobba TV
Phone: +39 0423 681983