The Tuscan sun has surrendered to a warm July evening, and you are strolling down a pleasant road in Ponte a Moriano with a merry band of 14 fellow Villa dwellers. You are all merry because you have identified the sole craft brewery within kilometers, and it happens to be a mere 3 km from your Villa. The blue dot (you) is steadily closing in on the red dot (brewery) on your GoogleMap App. All is well in the world.
You are so content that you actually bump into the lead stroller when he halts, quite abruptly. It appears that Google Maps did not reveal the minor detail that the last .6 km of the trip is a highway. The merry band reconsiders, retreats, but then retrenches. The highway is a terrifying Italian one with little Fiats and Renaults, accompanied by rather large freight trucks, zipping by at alarming speeds, mercilessly honking at 15 (haphazardly) merry beer seekers. But soon, the blue dot is on top of the red dot and you are in what you have come to imagine as Shangri-La: Bruton Brewery.
The brewery is named for the beer that the Minoans on Crete would offer to the minotaur that was locked within the labyrinth of the Palace of Knossos. Its ales are unfiltered and unpasteurized, and the brewers incorporate a re-fermentation process once the brew is bottled to increase the complexity and the longevity of the beer. Upon entering the brewery, you can see the sparkling kegs and keglines that are serving the taps upstairs through a small window, and the fermenters are proudly displayed through a larger window.
Out back there is a lovely oasis of a beer garden and a full menu to accompany your beer tasting.
Bruton Brewery offers a wheat beer (Bianca), a blonde ale (Bruton di Bruton), a strong golden ale (Stoner), a bitter (interestingly, Lilith), a dubbel (Momus), a barley wine (10), and a Christmas seasonal (St. Renna). My favorite was (interestingly) the bitter, inspired by the classic American pale ale. It incorporates Cascade hops that create a citrus taste, but the beer is balanced by caramel flavors and bitter notes at the end. The strong golden ale was tasty as well, with a nose of apricot and dried fruit. The flavor combines hops, honey, and malts, along with the higher alcohol finish.
After a long meal and many pitchers of beer, it is time for the merry band to return to the Villa. The highway is now darker and more terrifying, but the group, now fortified and (for better or worse) encouraged, is ready to meet it. Fast time is made on this Italian night, and you marvel as your head hits the pillow at your luck – at finding great beer in this Tuscan countryside, and at dodging certain death as a pedestrian on a dark Italian highway.
To watch a YouTube video of the head brewer talking about the brewery, whose mom kindly drove certain merry Villa dwellers from the Pisa airport to town, please click here.