Everyone in Birrificio Gilac, in Rivoli (Turin), probably agrees with Arthur Schopenauer’s statement, “The nobler and more perfect a thing is, the later and slower it is in arriving at maturity”. Since 2007, Gilac has been making “a unique, handmade unpasteurized range of brews”, as the company website declares with well-earned pride.
These Piedmontese craftsmen are obviously happy to represent their country through their work, and to make an excellent “slow beer” that is noble and perfect – to use the Polish philosopher’s words – because it is never rushed. It is made with calm to be tasted and enjoyed at ease, with the aroma and flavor of a great craft beer intact. We interviewed some of Gilac’s expert brewers.
Slowness is key: your beer is not to be drunk in a rush. It’s not an industrial, “fast food” product.
Slowness is a very important concept in our field. But sometimes we feel like certain craft beers have set themselves too far from market opportunities. The main reason why microbreweries exist is to make special products, but originality should still be able to meet market demand. Our goal is to set ourselves apart from the competition without discouraging consumers: we don’t want to force them to make a huge cognitive effort to taste a really good beer.
Don’t you think that this “indulgent” approach risks narrowing flavor down to industrial beers’ standards
Sure, especially since large manufacturers are much more powerful and better equipped than we are to promote mass-market beer at competitive prices. But our goal is to make a range of products that are simple yet original, made with top artisanal skills to satisfy our customers – even when they are newbies to the world of raw beer. This is not to say that we cannot focus on some more peculiar and exclusive beers at the same time.
How widespread and solid is craft beer culture in Italy?
Craft beers are gaining popularity, not only in pubs – where they have always been present – but throughout the “horeca” sector [editor’s note: “horeca” is the technical term for hotels, restaurants and cafés]. End clients are always open to discover new products and try new flavors, even at the cost of a few extra euros. Sometimes we face lower levels of knowledge and enthusiasm in resellers, who often fear steering from the beaten path and don’t realize the opportunity that Italian craft beers offer them: to improve the quality of their service, and to increase the perceived value of their business.
What commercial goals have you set for yourselves? Are you considering the foreign market?
By the end of 2014 we should be able to extend our distribution to the whole national territory, through a dedicated network of agents. Then we will focus in a more strategic and structured way on exportations; we have started but still have a lot of room for improvement, especially since our beers have established themselves quite well abroad.