Walter Massa’s Italian Grape Ale (IGA)

There’s a first time for everything and one of my firsts this week in Italy was tasting the Birrificio Montegioco Italian Grape Ale, a new category of beer that has come into the spotlight this year.

Known as IGA, after its official designation (Italian Grape Ale), it’s beer that’s been brewed with the addition of grape must.

In the case of the Open Mind IGA, must from Croatina grapes farmed by Piedmont legend Walter Massa is added. Walter is one of a small group of top winemakers who have coalesced around brewmaster Riccardo Franzosi, founder of Montegioco. They also contribute barrels for his cask-aged beers.

I like the Open Mind a lot and you could really taste the grape flavor, which gave the ale a nicely fruity and slightly sweet character.

(Thanks again to the amazing Carlo Fiorani for turning me on to this!)

In other news…

Today, I’ll teach my last wine writing seminar in the 2017 Master’s in Wine Culture at the University of Gastronomic Sciences.

That’s my class above, a great group of bright students.

We covered the history of ampelography from Columella (ancient Rome) and Andrea Bacci (Renaissance Italy) to modern-day writers like Eric Asimov and Alice Feiring and beyond. Along the way, we encountered a lot of what Eric rightly calls “wine anxiety” and we discovered that wine writing may be more about the Greek notion of aletheia or disclosure than the Latin notion of veritas or reality.

The students even coined a neologism: wine haters.

We realized (borrowing from Joseph Conrad) that the only thing we know for certain is that we see through a glass darkly.

All in all, we had a great time together.

Getting back to teaching has been really rewarding for me and I love how the Master’s program gives the instructors ample liberty in covering both practice and theory (like my colleague Armando Castagno who incorporates art history and the history of aesthetics in his wine tasting seminars).

In case you’re interested in learning more about the program, click here for the overview. As of this year, all the courses are taught in English. Enrollment for next year’s session is currently open. Thanks for reading…

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