Another beer-themed trip last 29 October: this time in the Friulian Alps, more precisely in Sutrio at Birrificio Bondai. It was an event organized as collaboration between Homebrewers FVG and Homebrewers Gorizia, with a visit to the brewery and beer tasting. As the location is in the middle of nature, my girlfriend Noemi and I decided to make a two day trip to visit the brewery and enjoy some hiking in the Alps.
Day 1: The brewery
Since we arrived in Sutrio well in advance, before going to the brewery Noemi and I decided to have breakfast at the wine bar Il Marangon, a place with a beautiful wooden veranda pleasantly heated by the beautiful sunny day.
After breakfast we reached the brewery waiting a while for everyone to arrive before moving into the taproom, where the presidents of the two associations together with the brewer Luca welcomed us. I had never been in this brewery, and I must admit I was impressed by the taproom, everything elegant, clean and neat completely in wood with armchairs in the corners: a perfect atmosphere for a mountain brewery. In addition to a presentation of the event, the welcome consisted also in a glass of Landscape, his Landbier served directly from the barrel.
After the presentations and a welcome beer Luca accompanied us in the heart of the brewery. Also here the main rule was order and cleanliness. On one side the cooking vats, tables and other equipment while on the other side a row of fermenters and aging vats. After an introduction on the history of the brewery, one of the first things Luca explained to us was the arrangement of the equipment in a circular manner following the production phases: starting from one side with mill and cooking vats while on the other side fermenters, maturers and finally the can filling machine.
Since there was also people who were not familiar with the production phases of the beer, Luca also briefly explained how the beer is produced so that everyone could understand well its production practices. While he showed us fermenters and maturers he explained that all beers always pass through both containers in order to have a much more cleaner final product.
At this point he pulled out the two masterpieces of the visit. The first was the Hop Torpedo: a container that is filled with hops, saturated with CO2 and connected to the fermenter through a pump. Inside the beer will be sprayed directly on the hops, filtered and returned to the fermenter. This guarantees an efficient and fast extraction of hop oils that from practical side allows you to perform a dry-hopping in a few hours instead of days.
But after having intrigued each of us with this tool he brought out the second surprise: in one of the fermenters he had a new beer, actually not really common. It was in fact a Spruce Beer, a beer produced with spruce tops. Luca decided to give us a preview directly from the fermenter: a very fresh and light beer with resinous notes, really good! At the moment I am writing this article beer is available at the brewery with the name PEÇ (which means spruce in Friulan language).
During this tasting we took some time to chat freely among ourselves and with Luca and then see the cans filling machine and finish the visit to the production area.
We returned to the taproom, where we found laid tables and various trays of cheese, mixed cold cuts and other typical Friulian products. It was time for lunch with tasting of four other beers:
- Listen… Can you hear it (American IPA, 6.2% ABV)
- Point Break (American Pale Ale, 5.2% ABV)
- Ben Fumade (Rauchbier, 5.2%)
- Paura Paura (English Porter, 5% ABV)
During lunch, which included a plate of orzotto and a slice of strudel, three of my friends who were going for a walk in the area has stopped for a beer.
At the end of the tasting we moved outside because despite it was actually November the day was sunny and very hot. We continued to chat and taste several Pastry Stouts made with the most unusual ingredients that a Homebrewers FVG member brought from Poland. Since we were already on Stouts, we could not miss a taste of P.E.R.L.A., the imperial Stout of the Bondai brewery.
During the tasting my friends came back from the walk and decided to stop again at the taproom to have their own tasting in parallel to our one.
At the end of the day we went to Osteria da Alvise where together with Noemi we had booked a room and the dinner, since the next day we wanted to do some hiking in the mountains. After a great dinner with Cjarsons and pumpkin dumplings we enjoyed a great sleep to regain strength after the busy day.
Day 2: Hiking
The next morning we put our things in the car and then have breakfast: this was also great, nothing to envy to the dinner of the night before. From there we headed towards the nearby mount Tenchia. After several kilometers on a road as wide as my car we started walking on a dirt road (much wider!) and enjoying a breathtaking view of Sutrio and other neighboring villages. Here we also met my friend and homebrewer Lauro along with his girlfriend. Unfortunately we didn’t foresee that in November there could be such a sunny and warm day to be in shorts and t-shirts (I had bought a jacket thinking it will be cold), and that route had the defect of being completely under the sun.
After an abundant half hour of walking under the sun the heat was now unbearable, so we decided to go back and move to the not far away natural park Monte Terzo full of trails that extend through the woods. Here we could make a wonderful walk in the cool of the forest among trees and statues carved in wooden trunks arranged along the entire route, until we reached the Malga Lavareit, closed in this period, which gave us a wonderful panorama.
Satisfied with the second hike, after a short rest we returned along the path to the car and then head home. Of course it was a must to stop again at the Bondai brewery to buy some takeaway beers to drink at home with friends.
Beautiful two-day adventure that combined my passion for beer with the pleasure of enjoying nature. The days were beautiful, in the brewery everything was perfect and nothing left to chance, the beers were great, and the places in the area explored the next day are wonderful. I recommend anyone to make an excursion even in a single day stopping on the way back in the Bondai taproom for some spectacular beer. I hope to return as soon as possible.