In Italy, a New Beer Made from Olive Leaves

Birra Olea is made from local olive leaves, which the brewer says lend a smokey flavor and antioxidants.
Dec. 8, 2021
Paolo DeAndreis

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A local beer pro­ducer has part­nered with olive grow­ers from Coldiretti, a lead­ing farm­ers’ asso­ci­a­tion, to pro­duce Birra Olea near Rome. Olive leaves are the key ingre­di­ent.

Coming from east­ern Lazio, parts of which are strug­gling to recover from a long series of earth­quakes that razed entire vil­lages and destroyed most of the local econ­omy five years ago, locals see the announce­ment as a new begin­ning.

We focus on beers which can rep­re­sent our ter­ri­tory.- Claudio Lorenzini, Alta Quota brew­ery in Rieti

Coldiretti said pro­duc­ing the beer requires hun­dreds of kilo­grams of olive leaves. The leaves come directly from prun­ing the trees located near the brew­ery. Coldiretti added that the beer is an exam­ple of a cir­cu­lar econ­omy and a local spe­cialty.

In the last few years, we have been work­ing to pro­duce our beers using only 100-per­cent Italian ingre­di­ents; most of which are pro­duced [by the brew­ery],” said Claudio Lorenzini, owner of the Alta Quota brew­ery in Rieti and Birra Olea’s inven­tor. At the same time, we focus on beers which can rep­re­sent our ter­ri­tory.”

See Also:Food & Cooking

The fla­vor pro­file of the final prod­uct fea­tures a smoky taste, which the brew­ery attrib­utes to the olive leaves. The use of the leaves in the brew­ing process also means the beer con­tains polyphe­nols, pow­er­ful antiox­i­dants.

Furthermore, Coldiretti added that the leaves play a role in bal­anc­ing the beer’s bit­ter­ness and acid­ity. Other more tra­di­tional ingre­di­ents are water, bar­ley malt, wheat malt, hops and yeast.

The new prod­uct rep­re­sents a local del­i­cacy which ful­fills our qual­ity stan­dards and speci­ficity para­me­ters,” wrote David Granieri, the pres­i­dent of Coldiretti Lazio. “[It is] an exper­i­ment that had the best results; some­thing new both for Latium [Lazio] and for the whole coun­try.”


Birra Alta Quota

Artisanal beer is a prod­uct that is quickly expand­ing both in its rep­u­ta­tion and con­sump­tion,” he added. Choosing to pro­duce it with olive leaves com­bines two prod­uct chains and gives birth to a spe­cial mes­sage for a city of such rel­e­vance as Rome.”

The region where grow­ers pro­duce the renowned Sabina extra vir­gin olive oil, which has a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) cer­ti­fi­ca­tion from the European Union, stretches about 60 kilo­me­ters from Rieti to Rome.

Based on a 2,600-year-old olive-grow­ing tra­di­tion, the Sabina PDO Consortium is cel­e­brat­ing its 25th anniver­sary this year.

The PDO is a blend of sev­eral dif­fer­ent olive cul­ti­vars – Carboncella, Leccino, Raja, Frantoio, Olivastrone, Moraiolo, Olivago, Salviana and Rosciola. The leaves from these vari­eties are now being used to pro­duce the new beer.

Coldiretti has also praised the new ini­tia­tive for its sig­nif­i­cance, given the trou­bled recent past of the area.

We really liked the mes­sage related to the con­cept of a new begin­ning since Alta Quota is located in Cittareale, in the heart of the affected area,” Granieri con­cluded. “[It’s] a com­pany that was hurt by the earth­quake but still found the strength and courage to get back on its feet and start all over again, focus­ing on inno­va­tions such as this prod­uct.”

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