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Classic Beer of the Month July 2014: Birrificio Italiano Tipopils, 5.2%

Agostino Arioli can rightly be described as one of the pioneers of Italian brewing. When he set up his Birrificio Italiano in 1996, his was just one of two small breweries daring to challenge the domination of the big boys in the country.

TipopilsSince that time, the Italian beer scene has been revolutionised. There are now in excess of 750 breweries in operation, turning out beers in all international styles, many of which are of the highest quality.

Agostino's beers have always set a high standard. His wide range includes the nutty, creamy Bibock and the gloriously delicate strong ale, Amber Shock, but by far the best known is Tipopils.

The success of Tipopils is perhaps not surprising when you learn that this was a beer that Agostino designed for his own pleasure. The template was not a Bohemian or Bavarian pilsner but the leaner, drier northern German pils style.

The beer exudes quality. Pilsner and Caramunich malts create a beckoning deep-golden colour, a full, smooth body and a pure sweetness, while Spalter Select hops from Germany's Tettnang region add a fragrant, keen bitterness.

Three-and-a-half weeks of lagering ensure the beer is as clean as a whistle and, so as not to destroy everything good that has happened in the brewhouse, there's no heavy filtration, fining or pasteurisation when it comes to packaging.

From the first sniff, pungent hop resins make their presence felt. With suggestions of lemon and herbs, there's an almost coriander-like character to the peppery aroma.

Crisp and Bittersweet

On the tongue, the beer is refreshingly crisp and bittersweet. Peppery, aromatic herbal notes weave their way around the palate, sweetened up by suggestions of lemon jelly. That aforementioned dryness is always present but, like the bitterness, is never overbearing or aggressive.

Tangy hops then fill the finish, with resins lingering as dryness builds again, completing a prime example of how to brew a beer that is packed with flavour but never out of balance, a satisfying, fresh-tasting drop of golden nectar.

Tipopils has long been known to beer cognoscenti. It is consistently voted one of the best beers in the world in internet polls but for most of the drinking public it has remained elusive. Thankfully, things are changing and the beer is at last getting the wider distribution it deserves.

It's now available in bottle and in keg in the UK, too – including, I'm so pleased to say, in some Italian restaurants. If you see it on your travels, don't miss out.

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