INTERNATIONAL BREWERY: Birrificio Foglie d’Erba, Forni di Sopra, Italy
BEER: Hot night at the Village (5.0% ABV)
HOST BREWERY (UK): Shepherd Neame Brewery, Kent
BEER NO. 21
Gino’s brewing career started in fairly recent years. As with most other brewers, he began with home brewing and then made the jump to a professional job in 2008.
Different awards in Italian and European competitions helped the growth of the brewery. Then, in 2011, Gino was named Birraio dell’Anno (Brewer of the Year) in Italy.
Gino said: “Since the early 1960s, my family have owned a hotel with a restaurant and pub; when I started working there, I fell in love with beer. We were the first pub in the area to serve different international beer styles, so it all started there.
“Not much has changed – just developed day by day and expanded. I love the creativity, tasting new beers and the beer culture, as well as meeting people from around the world, sharing information and learning as much as I can.”
The name of the brewery means ‘Leaves of Grass’ – the title of a Walt Whitman book.
Gino loves literature and music, and all of the beers’ names come from those inspirations, such as his Freewheelin’ IPA, Songs from the Wood Imperial Stout, Great Gatsby Session IPA, Gentle Giant Tripel – the list goes on.
Gino said: “I’m very lucky, since I live and work in a beautiful place, in a little mountain town called Forni di Sopra, northwest of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, in the Dolomites. The environment is green and wooded, with mountains, clean, fresh air and water.
“We are the only brewery in the world to be certificated by PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification), for our care in utilising herbs and spices (such as resins and pine buds) growing in the Dolomite Forest.
“Next autumn, we will be creating a new mountain-style range of beers, using local forest ingredients.”
Hot night at the Village (5.0% ABV) is an English-style brown porter, brewed with Maris Otter, Munich, Pilsener, chocolate and brown malts, UK hops and the brewery’s house yeast.
Gino said: “It is intended to be a very easy-drinking ale, just like our water on the Dolomite Mountains: soft and delicate, with a lot of character. It is low in bitterness, medium bodied, with hints of chocolate, liquorice and caramel, as well as little herbal notes at the end of the sip.
“The name comes from a tribute to one of the nicest beer events in all of Europe, called Villaggio della Birra, located in Tuscany every September, as well as our love for Jethro Tull’s music and the group’s song Budapest – with its ‘hot night’ reference!”
Gino added: “I’ve never brewed for Wetherspoon before, and I’m very happy to do that! I love brewing in other breweries, especially abroad, learning secrets and sharing traditions. I really love the UK beer tradition, and I’m looking forward to brewing with England’s oldest brewer.
“It is a fantastic opportunity.”