If your last name is Musso, it means you are destined to become a micro-brewer! Teo Musso is the visionary master brewer who started the trend in Italy of making craft beers in 1996 called Baladin. The opening of these brew pubs around the world is a more recent phenomenon but it all started in a tiny little village called Piozzo just outside the Langhe wine region. For more about this story, read here.

Antonello pouring his beer
Then there is Antonello Musso. Claudio and I met Antonello a few years ago at local VW bug festivals (he has an almost identical one to ours) and this year we all caravanned in our rainbow of slug bugs to visit his old family farm and taste his own craft beer! The farm which is just down the street from Baladin, is called Azienda Agricola Fré. Now Antonello uses it to develop his own passion for beer, and I decided to interview him about this new venture.
How did this idea to start making your own beer come about? Especially in such a wine prevalent area?!
For so many years I was really into wine but about 10 years ago I discovered my passion for beer. I realized that you could apply a lot of the same knowledge to this crazy evolution of the craft beer movement! For example, if you pay special attention to the prime resources in the beer, you can make an absolutely unique product not only because of its original recipe but also for the quality of the ingredients. This way it could become AUTOCTONA or native to the area!
What kind of preparation or studies did you have to do in order to start making your beer?
Regarding the source products, it took 5 years of trials and experimentation. There is nothing or no one that can teach you about cultivation, especially of hops, because the only thing that really dictates the farming is the land itself which changes from area to area. In fact, the first hard job I had to do was select a variety that could adapt well to my type of soil here in Farigliano. Then for learning about the production, I took a course at the University of Agriculture in Udine.
So which selection of hops did you finally decide on?
The selected hops is called Cascade which originally comes from Oregon. This year we have also started to add in the variety called Styrian Golding which is from England.
The first time I have ever seen actual hops growing!
Now tell me a bit about the farm and its history.
Our farm was established at the end of the 1800s and was passed down from father to son throughout these different generations. We are very tiny but have great potential and a love for experimenting. You can see this through our wide range of products starting from hazelnuts, kiwis, strawberries, bees and therefore honey, barley, hops and now beer.
Do you actually make the beer at the farm?
No, the beer is produced together with other breweries in San Damiano d’Asti. In order to lower the costs, we have a common facility that we can use.
In your opinion, what is the secret to making a great beer?
Passion, talent, having good taste and most of all the quality of the prime ingredients.
Inside the old farm
Why do you think craft beers and breweries are now so popular especially in this region Piemonte? Is it all due to Teo Musso’s Baladin?
Piemontese people are loaded with passion for what they do. Baladin in Piozzo really gave many brewers or even beginners the motivation and hope that was necessary.
It was definitely thanks to Teo that many beer projects in the area took off. In fact, I even collaborate with him when it comes to our hops. We are looking together to bring about our own native beer in Italy working with the local staple ingredients. We are pioneers here in this area for now. To carry on our projects, the institutions need to help us resolve many bureaucratic problems dealing with the planting and farming of hops.
Ahhh yes, the famous Italian bureaucracy! But can we find any of your beer in the US?
Yes! Actually we export to Boston but just in small quantities. Knowing that people are appreciating our beer all the way across the ocean makes me so happy! Like many things that I do, this collaboration all started by chance thanks to mutual friends and contacts that I have.
And finally… on a very personal note, do you prefer birra bionda o ambrata? and when?
I must say I love the amber beer. It goes very well with my tastes and is very easy to pair with many types of food like meats, pasta and even fish! No limits! But when I feel like inebriating myself with perfumes and aromas of hops, I close my eyes and take a sip of the blond. Refreshing and cold, it can be addicting!
Bionda with homemade focaccia made from leftover hops
Thank you Antonello for your initiative, the passionate work you do and the time you shared with us. I wish you the best of success and Claudio and I are now your newest and biggest fans!
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