Italy’s beer scene has really exploded in the years since 2000.
A country once satisfied by cold, undistinguished pale lagers, which were used simply to quench the thirst, has turned increasingly to craft beers, a trend driven by a rash of new breweries concentrated around the sub-Alpine regions of northern Italy.
Even more remarkably, Italians have discovered these beers are a perfect accompaniment to food. Dining tables once the preserve of the Pinot Grigio and the Montepulciano have now been invaded by crisp pale ales and yeasty blondes.
Founded in 1997 and based in the far north-east of the country, close to the Slovenian border, Castello is now one of the comparative veterans on the scene, and perhaps when it was introduced, rather than being in the vanguard of the craft movement, this potent Imperial Pilsner was simply pointing the way towards yet more experimental and esoteric pleasures to come.
It still refreshes, yet the 6.9% strength of this deep golden lager reveals itself through a significant malty, biscuity taste and its slightly oily texture, before the beer signs off with some substantial bitterness in the finish.