The idea behind Birra Brigante comes from the desire to offer Italian restaurants a flavoursome product that provides an excellent food and beer pairing. Complementing or contrasting beer with Italian cuisine. Birra Brigante is an alternative to the usual mainstream Italian brands. The secrets of this traditional saison beer are the freshness of the ingredients, unique brewing style and the great historic meaning.
Birra Brigante takes its name from the bandits in southern Italy after the Italian unification in 1861 by the Kingdom of Sardinia in the north and with the support of Giuseppe Garibaldi. But to understand why this name is given to a beer that will be marketed in the North East of England it is necessary to go back in time.
Pre-1861, Italy was split into different kingdoms. In the south there was the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies governed by the Bourbons monarchy, centre Italy by the Papal State, and North by several small kingdoms, one of which was the Kingdom of Sardinia ruled by the King Vittorio Emanuele II.
The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was considered the third European economic power after France and England. The Kingdom held a cutting-edge metallurgical industry and a highly developed textile industry along with the third largest naval merchant fleet in Europe and 70% of total Italian wealth.
The dynasty of Vittorio Emanuele II, in total economic crisis led to a military campaign against the South of Italy to take the riches of the Bourbons and to pay their debts.
The military attack was led by General Garibaldi between 1860 and 1861, who today is remembered in the north as a hero and an Italian patriot but in the south, nothing more than a mercenary.
Garibaldi travelled to Newcastle in 1854 to ask for help from the English who provided Garibaldi with weapons and financial support. England’s support was based on the fact that the island of Malta, a British protectorate near the Sicilian coast, was strategically of great military importance for the control of goods and troops around the Mediterranean Sea.
After the unification of Italy occurred, the economic and social situation in the south worsened dramatically as the new government adopted a policy of oppression and impoverishment to the people of the south.
A resistance began to form and to fight against the new government, mainly made up of farmers and former Bourbon soldiers. The new conquerors called them “Briganti” meaning bandits.
The bandits were part of a revolutionary mass movement, which fought against Garibaldi’s invasion.
Garibaldi’s visit to Newcastle and subsequent support from the English was instrumental in making the Italian unification possible.
Newcastle and Sunderland were two of the most prolific shipbuilding and mining locations in Britain. The coal from North East pits gave rise to the industrial revolution.
In the 1980’s, with the closure of the mines and the loss of shipbuilding, this led to unrest and protests in the North Eastern communities following economic decline. Inspired by these chapters in history, Birra Brigante was born, produced in Sunderland by Darwin Brewery, a city that has much in common with the Two Sicilies.
The orange tree and the black background symbolise the “Briganti”, fearless bandits who loved their homeland.
Birra Brigante is not just an excellent beer, a malted saison flavoured with fresh orange peel. Birra Brigante leads the drinker, sip after sip, to appreciate its spicy and fragrant character going back in time and discovering its historical secrets.