What’s with the spate of “Italian” style pilsners being released by British breweries lately? And just what the hell is an Italian pilsner anyway?
First released in 1996, Birrificio Italiano Tipopils was, and still is considered by many as something of a game changer. A world apart from the likes of Peroni or Moretti, Tipopils takes a soft, bready malt body, much like a traditional German Helles, then dry hops the beer using the Spalter Select variety, giving the beer heady floral and lemon zest characteristics.
The inspiration for this hoppy lager didn’t come from the US as you might think, however, but from the UK’s ale tradition, as brewery founder Agostino Arioli told Craft Beer and Brewing’s Joe Stange in an interview last year. And come to think of it, there are definitely similarities between Tipopils and classic, hoppy golden ales such as Hop Back Summer Lightning, which was first brewed in 1988, with the idea being for it to stave off the growing popularity of mass-market Euro lagers.
While never really breaking through to the mainstream here in the UK, Tipopils has remained a favourite among enthusiasts, many of whom are brewers who love it for its effortlessly refreshing quality. DEYA, Burning Sky and Siren are just a handful of English breweries that have recently created an Italian-style pilsner of their own, but one of the best I’ve tried is from Norfolk’s Duration Brewery.
Generously dry-hopped with the German Saphir and Mittelfruh varieties, the somewhat appropriately named Cuttin’ Grass beautifully emulates that soft bready and snappy lemon profile that makes Tipopils the perfect late-summer sipper. The name being appropriate because the can itself depicts Duration co-founder and head brewer Derek Bates, whizzing around on his lawnmower, beer in hand. If you’ve ever been fortunate enough to meet Bates, you’ll know he loves keeping his lawn trim almost as much as he does a fresh can of lager when the work is done (or during said work).
This is one to savour and enjoy as much as possible before the colder nights begin to set in.
Matthew Curtis is a writer, photographer and editor of Pellicle Magazine. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @totalcurtis and @pelliclemag. Sign up to our All Killer No Filler subscription box and you'll find incredible beers like this one every month, plus more great writing from Matthew and our food writer Claire Bullen.