In Italy, a New Beer Made from Olive Leaves

A local beer producer has partnered with olive growers from Coldiretti, a leading farmers’ association, to produce Birra Olea near Rome. Olive leaves are the key ingredient.

Coming from eastern Lazio, parts of which are struggling to recover from a long series of earthquakes that razed entire villages and destroyed most of the local economy five years ago, locals see the announcement as a new beginning.We focus on beers which can represent our territory.– Claudio Lorenzini, Alta Quota brewery in Rieti

Coldiretti said producing the beer requires hundreds of kilograms of olive leaves. The leaves come directly from pruning the trees located near the brewery. Coldiretti added that the beer is an example of a circular economy and a local specialty.

“In the last few years, we have been working to produce our beers using only 100-percent Italian ingredients; most of which are produced [by the brewery],” said Claudio Lorenzini, owner of the Alta Quota brewery in Rieti and Birra Olea’s inventor. “At the same time, we focus on beers which can represent our territory.”See Also: Food & Cooking

The flavor profile of the final product features a smoky taste, which the brewery attributes to the olive leaves. The use of the leaves in the brewing process also means the beer contains polyphenols, powerful antioxidants.

Furthermore, Coldietti added that the leaves play a role in balancing the beer’s bitterness and acidity. Other more traditional ingredients are water, barley malt, wheat malt, hops and yeast.

The new product “represents a local delicacy which fulfills our quality standards and specificity parameters,” wrote David Granieri, the president of Coldiretti Lazio. “[It is] an experiment that had the best results; something new both for Latium [Lazio] and for the whole country.”

“Artisanal beer is a product that is quickly expanding both in its reputation and consumption,” he added. “Choosing to produce it with olive leaves combines two product chains and gives birth to a special message for a city of such relevance as Rome.”

The region where growers produce the renowned Sabina extra virgin olive oil, which has a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) certification from the European Union, stretches about 60 kilometers from Rieti to Rome.

Based on a 2,600-year-old olive-growing tradition, the Sabina PDO Consortium is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

The PDO is a blend of several different olive cultivars – Carboncella, Leccino, Raja, Frantoio, Olivastrone, Moraiolo, Olivago, Salviana and Rosciola. The leaves from these varieties are now being used to produce the new beer.

Coldiretti has also praised the new initiative for its significance, given the troubled recent past of the area.

“We really liked the message related to the concept of a new beginning since Alta Quota is located in Cittareale, in the heart of the affected area,” Granieri concluded. “[It’s] a company that was hurt by the earthquake but still found the strength and courage to get back on its feet and start all over again, focusing on innovations such as this product.”

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