Monday, April 25, 2011

Italian Beer Series: Pedavena (Belluno)

Pedavena is fairly well-known in the Veneto when its unionized workers stood up to Heineken's efforts to close the brewery by setting up a cooperative brewery. Before that, it was an historic brewery that started operations in 1896 that grew to become one of Italy's biggest beer producers by the 1960s despite major set backs during WWI and WWII.  During the late 60s, the factory halted production of the Pedavena line to focus on production of Dreher, which the company acquired in the 20s (to form the Birra Pedavbena-Dreher-Venezia Group).  It was not again until the late 90s when Pedavena restarted to produce its namesake line to celebrate its centenary and as a sort of symbol of pride after Heineken (which bought the group in 1974) threatened to shut down its operations.  Pedavena survived after it was sold to Castello and allowed to continue production in the local brewery.  Oddly, Castello is also partly owned by Heineken, which makes it suspect if the deal was made merely to ensure Heineken saves face and keep producing and selling in Italy under the facade of "local production". 

Although the Pedavena brewery produces and sells beer on-site at its local factory, this review is for its bottle product. The label does say that it is a "product of hops flowers," so it shouldn't be much of a surprise as to what the dominant ingredient is. Upon pouring, the beer is clear and golden and produces a head that is white, coarse, high, and moderately lasting that leaves a modicum of lacing. The aroma is very strong of hops with underlying bits of hay. The taste is initially very bitter with a hint of sweetness, rounded out with a sourness (not citrus, just sour) that negates the bitterness of the hops. Its 5% ABV and and almost soda-like carbonation puts it along the lines of other mass-produced beers. All in all an inoffensive brew. I'm looking forward to visiting the brewery to see how the bottle stuff compares to the locally produced and served product.

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