A quick post from the road: we’re in Italy after a night at the remarkable Nuovo Birrificio Italiano, part of a week in Piedmont and Lombardy researching Italian beer culture. (And in an attempt to build a few bridges, we have filled our car with some great Czech lagers, which, much like Johnny Appleseed, we are handing out in our wake.)

The most striking element of Italy’s brewing scene so far: unbound enthusiasm, from the brewers to the pubs to the serving staff and the customers. Czechs may drink more — far more, in fact, besting the Italians’ annual per capita consumption by some 130 liters — but the Italian beer fans we’ve met in the past few days are way more enthusiastic about their choice of beverage. Hearing people here talk about craft beer is like listening to a bunch of converts to a new religion or meeting a group of political revolutionaries (as opposed to culinary ones). Everywhere you look is the wide-eyed expression of the true believer.

A few observations from a few days on the road:

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