Beer is a natural product, and its quality depends first and foremost on the quality of the ingredients used to make it. At Amarcord, the care and attention we dedicate to this fundamental aspect are always at the maximum level, and even the site of our brewery was chosen, for example, because of the high quality of the water available locally. So let's take a look at what we use to brew Amarcord beers.
This is the basic ingredient for all beers, making up about 90-95% of their total volume. Historically, breweries were always located near springs or other sources of water, but today almost any type of water can be treated to make it suitable for brewing. Nevertheless, the possibility of working with a water of excellent natural quality is undoubtedly an advantage, precisely because it eliminates the need to treat it artificially. At Amarcord we use only water from a spring that lies at the foot of Mount Nerone, and that guarantees extreme flexibility in the production of the different styles of beer that we brew.
Barley is the most important and most widely used cereal in brewing, even though other cereals like wheat and emmer can also contribute in the creation of certain special beers. At Amarcord we use different cereals and different types of barley malt. Our innovative mill for grinding malt allows us to first apply a slight pressure on the previously moistened malt grains, which is essential to avoid excessive damage to their husks, and this is followed by the actual grinding process. With this method we are able to extract all the precious substances like enzymes, tannins and proteins that we need to brew a great beer.
Hops were studied for the first time in the 12th century by Hildegard von Bingen, a nun but also an expert botanist who for the first time described their properties in the flavouring and conservation of beer, and very soon they became a fundamental beer ingredient. Hundreds of different varieties are known and used today in the brewing industry, and each has its own specific properties and aroma. There are two types of hops, one used for "bittering" during boiling of the wort, and the other used to impart aroma during the final stage of boiling, or even later. As their name suggests, bittering hops give beer its characteristic bitter taste to varying degrees, but aroma hops, used in different proportions, create the beer's bouquet. The possible number of choices are virtually infinite, and they contribute in the construction of the unique personality of a beer.
Yeasts are unicellular organisms that play an essential role in brewing, because they ferment the wort and transform the sugars it contains into alcohol. Several types of yeast exist, but for brewing purposes the two strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Saccharomyces carlsbergensis are generally used. The first is used for so-called "top-fermented" beers (including ales, stouts, wheat beers and white beers), and the second for "bottom-fermented" beers (mainly the great family of lagers). At Amarcord we use different yeasts depending on the type of beer to be brewed, but most importantly of all, our yeast cultures are constantly tended and monitored by our biologists and by the quality manager of our in-house laboratory.
While water, barley malt, hops and yeast are the four foundations on which a good beer is built, other ingredients can also be added to enhance it, or much rather, to make it unique. Many of these additional ingredients are available, and others continue to be introduced as the research and creativity of brewers develop. Fruit, spices, honey, roots such as liquorice and berries like coffee are the colours of palettes waiting for artists to display their skills. This side of things is left mainly to the brewer's freedom and inspiration, but the final product must obviously also be a beer that's both enjoyable and balanced. Amarcord Beer creations are developed from a long process of experiments, trials and tests, but the end results are always satisfactorily surprising.
Of course, we need to start by saying that making a good beer certainly isn't easy. Because it's not just a question of the quality of ingredients, but also of technology, attention to every single detail of the brewing process, and above all the absolute and indispensable respect of the times necessary to create the beer that you'll find yourself drinking. At Amarcord, we're stubborn enough to never neglect even a single one of these details. We select the finest ingredients, we chose the site for our brewery because of the absolute quality of the water we can use there, and we treat these ingredients with all the care and attention they deserve.
Everything starts with barley malt. After treating raw barley grains to produce malt, the malthouse delivers the processed cereal to our brewery, where we store it in modern silos that avoid putting excessive pressure on the individual grains. These malt grains are then fed into a grinding mill of the latest generation that lightly moistens them before they're ground, and the light pressure applied keeps the grain husks intact, allowing them to play their part when the wort passes into the lauter tun.
The finished wort is subjected to a mashing process in which the temperature of the water and malt mixture is slowly raised to about 70°C, allowing the starches present to be converted into less complex sugars. The next step is to transfer the wort to the lauter tun, which delicately filters out the husks of the malt grains, leaving the wort clear and transparent.
The next step is to bring the wort to the boil, adding the hops required by the specific recipe, to give the beer a pleasantly bitter flavour and contributing to the overall final taste. After boiling, the wort passes into the whirlpool tank, where the hop residues are filtered out and the wort is cooled by contact with a coil though which cold water runs.
Then the miracle happens! The brewer adds the yeasts selected, which commence their time-honoured process of fermentation, transforming the wort's sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide. And at this point we have what we can finally call beer, even though it's not completely finished yet! After fermentation, in fact, the beer needs to rest, and at Amarcord this is something we never hurry for any reason whatsoever. This is why the capacity of our conditioning storeroom increases as our production output rises, following the growing request for our products from the market. Each beer is checked and sampled for a minimum of four weeks, following its development with great attention. And then it's ready to be bottled, either as it is, or in the case of refermentation in the bottle, with the addition of a suitable quantity of sugar and yeast, and it is then labelled. Beers to be refermented are next moved to a heated storage space, where the correct temperature allows the added yeast and sugar to start fermenting again to produce the ideal level of carbonation as intended and required by Amarcord. Finally the beer is transferred to a cool chamber, where it completes its maturation process, developing the perfection we strive for in all our beers. And next? Well, that's up to you!
Quality is of primary importance for us. We want our beers to meet high quality standards and we want the quality of our products to be objectively certified and recognised. For this reason: we are constantly involved in external audits; we have been collaborating for years with internationally recognised and certified bodies; we have set up a test laboratory of our own.
For some years now, Birra Amarcord has been working alongside the Technische Universität München, TUM of Munich. Collaboration includes specific focus on product analysis and yeast database.
BRC certification represents the specific global standard for the safety of agri-food products. This is not an easy-to-obtain certificate. Requirements include quality management systems, HACCP methodology, and a number of GMPs (Good Manufacturing Practices), GLPs (Good Laboratory Practices) and GHPs (Good Hygiene Practices). We have obtained the BRC certificate for 7 years in a row and we currently have an AA rating.
Birra Amarcord is equipped with a test laboratory where 2 biologists ensure the constant quality of products through the continuous and scrupulous control of the production plant and the product itself.
Amarcord beers are continuously screened by a panel of experts, technical operators and beer-sommeliers who, by means of blind tests, make sure the product always meets the quality standards imposed by the brewery.
Every year, Birra Amarcord employees attend in-depth training courses on specific topics relating to brewing processes at CERB Perugia, a beer research centre of excellence.
Attention to the environmental impact of our production activities has always been the primary focus of the Amarcord Beer philosophy, and one of our firmest commitments since the day we opened.
Our brewery has a low consumption of electricity from conventional sources, thanks to the installation of a zero-emission photovoltaic array that guarantees the efficient operation of our entire production facility, including even the forklift trucks we use to move goods around!
The capacity of our brewery's waste water treatment system is significantly greater than our effective needs, guaranteeing maximum respect for nature and the environment in which we are fortunate enough to work.
The residues of the spent barley malt, known in the trade as "trub", are still rich in nutritional substances that make them ideal for feeding livestock, and we therefore pass them on to a local feed producer.
In addition, to protect our workforce and the environment, we decided right from the start to reduce at the lowest possible point, all cleaning products containing chlorine.
For the same reason, Amarcord Beer uses packing materials made from 100% recyclable cardboard, printed with water-based inks and glued together with adhesives derived from maize starch. Finally, for our bottles we use only dark brown glass that is 100% recyclable.