Tuesday, July 04, 2006


Pietra celebrates its 10th anniversary

22nd June was a rather special day for Dominique and Armelle Sialelli – it was the 10th anniversary of the birth of their (and Corsica’s) most famous beer, Pietra.

In 1996, launching a brown beer must have seemed like suicide. At that time, everyone in Europe (even most Brits) were drinking lager. And Pietra isn’t just brown – it’s got attitude as well. It contains Corsican chestnut flour alongside the hops, and its ABV is an eye-watering 6 per cent, a solid one per cent stronger than most European premium beers.

It tastes absolutely delicious… but I got to know it the long way round. When I first discovered Corsican beers I was seduced by Pietra’s sister beer Colomba – named, I now gather, after the heroine in the Merimée novel of the same name. Slightly less strong that Pietra, Colomba is cloudy and has the appearance of a German wheat beer, but there the similarity ends. Its taste is as close as you can get to the scent of the maquis, and for me it was love at first sip. And there’s another, more conventional looking, every-day beer, from the same stable, called Serena.

These days, I’ve learnt to know and respect Pietra and my only advice is this – it’s no “session beer” as the brewing industry used to call their best selling lagers. I have learnt to look at it from the point of view of a beer drinker rather than a Corsophile. It deserves attention and respect, for its wonderful flavour and strength as well as its origin and pedigree.

Now, I understand that you can buy Pietra and Colomba in the UK through www.corsicaholiday.com. I think I might order some. However, one mystery remains. In the 10th anniversary picture in 22nd June’s Corse Matin, a picture shows the happy proprietors toasting each other with a Serena glass containing what looks like Pietra, and a Pietra glass containing a draught of what looks suspiciously like Serena. Come on Dan Brown, what does this signify?

hi, just found your blog. don't think there's too many of us "corsican" bloggers out there :) i happen to really love Pietra and i am not a beer drinker by any standard. it's one of the few chestnutty things i like.
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