Altavia is the first agro-brewery in Liguria. Winning ReStartApp enabled me to give life to my idea of a brewery that looks after the entire supply chain, from seed to glass.
The hop fields are located in Maddalena, a small outlying locality in the municipality of Sassello, inland from Savona. You can just about imagine the plants below the snow blanket, but what you do see, however, are the wooden poles, standing at least five metres tall, connected with each other through a framework of ‘strings’, to support the growth of that which, together with barley, is the main ingredient in the production of beer. The hop fields were planted – on a plot of abandoned land that belonged to the local parish – by Giorgio Masio, who, together with his partners, is pursuing his dream of creating a craft agro-breweryin the Ligurian Apennines.
A craft agro-brewery
As from 2016, craft beer can be described with reference to a specific provision of law, that is article 35 of Italian Law No. 154/2016, which states that: “Craft beer shall be defined as beer produced by small independently-owned breweries that has not undergone any pasteurisation or microfiltration treatment during production. For the purposes of this sub-paragraph, a small independently-owned brewery shall be a brewery that is legally and financially independent of any other brewery, uses equipment that is physically separate from that of any other brewery, does not operate under a licence for use of intellectual property rights belonging to a third-party, and does not produce more than 200,000 hectolitres of beer per year, including any quantities that are produced on behalf of third parties”. Six years before, Italian Decree No. 212 of August 2010 had already identified – indirectly – the characteristics of the so-called agro-brewery, by establishing that beer can be classed as an agricultural product when the producer makes its own malt.
The name of the brewery, “Altavia” (high trail), is based on the fact that up here, 400 metres above sea level, runs the Alta via dei Monti liguri: hundreds of kilometres of paths and mule tracks that are open all year round, connecting the two end points of the Ligurian Riviera, Ventimiglia to Ceparana, the Imperia Province to the La Spezia Province.
The production facility is located in Sassello, in Masio’s grandparents’ former stables. Next door, his mother’s parents’ home houses the tap room, serving Altavia beers once a week (on Thursdays). Direct sale allows to shorten the distribution chain between producer and consumer and it is one of the reasons why the project that Giorgio Masio runs with his partners Emanuele Olivieri and Marco Lima has been so successful. In January 2019, Masio was assigned the Emerging Brewer of the Year Award by the Fermento Birra network.