Desert Island Beers – Matteo Bonfanti, Switzerland
This weeks Desert Island castaway is Matteo Bonfanti, Head Brewer at Ticino Brewing Co. Stabio, Switzerland. Matteo (Aged 30) was born and grew up in Italy and went to the University of Milan, the faculty of Agriculture, where he took a degree in Food Science and Technology. The University is less than 2 kilometers from the infamous Birrificio Lambrate, and so it happened that every now and then he found himself at Lambrate drinking great beers between one lesson and another.
During his years at university he met a friend who had just started brewing beers at home, he showed Matteo how to brew, where to buy ingredients and equipment and he became a homebrewer too. After buying all the equipment Matteo says he started brewing at his grandfather’s house, with his grandparents as assistants.
Holidays too were often about beer: so whilst his friends planned holidays with guide books, he was looking for pubs, breweries and beer places; Belgium, Germany, The U.S.A , Baltic States, England, Sweden, Norway, again Belgium, again England…etc.etc..
After obtaining his degree Matteo had his first experience in a craft brewery with he says an intense internship at BrewDog in Scotland. After that he went back to Italy and to University to start a Ph.D. in Technological innovation for Agro-food. Matteo says it was however obviously about beer: microbiological analysis of beer and some research about beer made with chestnuts. Then a move to Ticino, the Italian speaking region of Switzerland, where he became Head Brewer of the newly established Ticino Brewing Company.
Matteo says some of his best moments working at Ticino Brewing Co. have been on collaboration beers; a White IPA with Kjetil from Nogne-O and a fresh hop amber lager with Stephen and Gabriel from Rappi Bier Factory. Matteo says these are great experiences where you learn from fellow brewers, have fun and drink a lot of beer as well!
Ticino is one of the first small breweries in Europe who put their beers in cans. And as Matteo is a big fan of cans it’s a great thing for him! He also loves hops, whether from Europe, United States, Australia, New Zealand or South Africa! He’s also kinda addicted to brewing books (history, raw materials, technology, beer styles…) and loves reading them to help improve his beer culture and knowledge.
Hi Matteo; great to have you on our Desert Island; which 5 beers would you want to have with you if you were stranded here and why?.
Brasserie Dupont – Saison Dupont Vieille Provision – (Tourpes-Leuze, Belgium – 6.5%)
“Perfectly balanced and yet so complex. I could never get tired of drinking it.”
Dark Star Brewing Co. – Hophead - (Horsham, England – 3.8%)
“It makes me hoppy!”
Birrificio Lambrate – Lambrate Ghisa – (Milano, Italy – 5.0%)
“It was my “gateway beer”. It turned me from beer drinker to a beer lover.”
Birrificio Italiano – Birrificio Italiano Tipopils – (Lurago Marinone (CO), Italy – 5.2%)
“The first “Italian Pils”, brewed by the best Italian brewer. It’s a hop triumph and another beer I could drink for hours.”
Cantillon - Cantillon Bruocsella 1900 Grand Cru – (Brussels, Belgium – 5.0%)
“I was sure I had to bring a Cantillon beer in my refrigerated suitcase to the desert island, but I was uncertain about which one to choose. In the end I decided for Grand Cru Bruocsella because it was the first Lambic I tasted in my life. I didn’t even like it! (the first time…)”
“Grand Cru Bruocsella, because there is something mystic in Lambic and the Cantillon Brewery in Bruxelles is a temple for brewers.”
You can also take one meal to go with your beers, what would it be and why? Is it a ‘last supper’ or a perfect pairing for one of the beers?
“Cassoeula. A typical Northern Italy Winter food; made with pork meat and cabbage. Maybe it’s not the most suitable food for a desert island, but it’s great for arctic islands and it seems to pair perfectly with Gueuze and Lambic.”
You have a CD/MP3/long player but you can only take one album. Choose wisely!
“Even harder than to choose only five beers…
The Libertines – Up the bracket.”
The Beer Book
You might be waiting a long time on your lonesome on the desert island, so we will automatically allow you a few books to keep your mind busy. You can pick between two beer books and two tomes:
• ‘The Brewmaster’s Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food’ by Garrett Oliver, or;
• Beer by Michael Jackson; plus;
• The Bible, or;
• another appropriate religious or philosophical work
“1. Beer by Michael Jackson or any other brewing books. I am a kind of compulsive beer book reader.
2. Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore.”
The non-beery, non-philosophical book; you can also take a something a little less taxing on the brain, what would that be?
“On the Road by Jack Kerouac.”
The Luxury Item
What luxury item would help make your stay on the island bearable?
“A home-brewing kit.”
Have you tried Matteo’s favourite beers? Let us know and many thanks to him for taking part and being our castaway for the week.
This article was simultaneously posted at Real Ale Reviews on 28th December 2012 as part of a collaboration on ‘Desert Island Beers’.
Tags: Birrificio Italiano - Birrificio Italiano Tipopils, Birrificio Lambrate - Lambrate Ghisa, Brasserie Dupont - Saison Dupont Vieille Provision, Cantillon - Cantillon Bruocsella 1900 Grand Cru, Dark Star Brewing Co. - Hophead, Desert Island Beers, Matteo Bonfanti