Elav X 114, Comun Nuovo , Italy at Il Santo Bevitore, Venice
Date: December 2, 2018
The Story— We reviewed Elav’s Punks Do It Bitter on October 5, and you can find a few more details about Elav and Il Santo Bevetore there, but in case you missed it, here’s the background for an extraordinary trio of beers. We’ll start this week with the two we did not feature earlier.
In reviewing our notes for these posts we discovered we had tasted scores of good beers in Venice, but only eight that really rose above the “good” level of craft beer these days. We found fully five of those in three visits over two years at Il Santo Bevetore. It’s a cute, waterside (which isn’t that rare in Venice) beer specialty pub. The number of taps isn’t that unusual these days, although the dozen and a half made them unique a few years ago. The selection and quality of the beers, however, puts this bar into an elite group of superior Italian beer bars. They usually have a featured brewery — we’d call it a tap takeover– and those beers are brewery fresh and carefully tended.
The brewery of the moment on our trip this summer was Elav, a small brewery in Comun Nuovo, a village not far from Bergamo, which is northwest of Milan. The brewery started with a tiny system less than 10 years ago – bigger than Sam Calagione’s soup pots at the original Dogfish Head, but not by much. A few years ago they leaped to a commercial sized brewery — more or less 20 barrels — that allows them to distribute as far as Venice.
The Beer— A bit clumsy but it touches all the bases, if kind of awkwardly and belatedly. Somewhat creamy with a more than a dash of wort early but that graininess blends pretty well later on. Ellie was impressed with the professionalism of the brewers. I could drink this 5.2% beer for a long time.
Value — Good. It cost us $8.75 for a 14 ounce “pint.” This would be outrageous in upstate Pennsylvania, but good beer is very expensive in Italy where small craft brewers actually pay more per barrel in taxes than the big brewers. The winners? big brewers. The losers? You and me.