Italian brewery launches first ever beer made of air

The Birra Flea microbrewery in Gualdo Tadino, central Italy, has brought a new recipe to beer: air.

Italian brewery launches first ever beer made of air
The new Sans Papiers – Biere de l’air beer, made of air, by Birra Flea. Photo: Birra Flea.

It's what every beer drinker in the world wants, a beer that you can muster out of thin air. Now a microbrewery in the Italian region of Umbria is doing just that.

Birra Flea has launched the world's first craft beer made of air. It's called Sans Papiers – Biere de l'air.

“Beer is made of 90 per cent water. We just extract water from the air,” Alessandro Tozzi, a marketing spokesman for Birra Flea, told The Local.

“It all starts with a machine that condenses hot air into water,” adds Tozzi. Birra Flea's condenser can produce 1,200 litres of water from hot air per day. 

The water is then mixed with barley malt, hops and yeast to produce beer. Birra Flea, founded by two local beer lovers, claims to use “the best barley since the Middle Ages,” according to its website. Birra Flea's beers are unfiltered and unpasteurised.  

Compressed air has been used in beer production for some time, although mainly for bottling, clarifying – whereby  a pressure-driven centrifuge removes heavier solids – or during aeration, required to ensure yeast cultures have sufficient oxygen during the fermentation process.

The Sans Papiers – Biere de l'air claims however to be the world's first beer that draws its core ingredient, water, from condensed air. 

The new variation of Birra Flea, which produces nine different types of beer, including Blonde Ale, IPA, a Belgian Strong Ale and an Imperial Ale – is set to hit the market soon.

Photo: Birra Flea. 

It is part of the eco-friendly and sustainable approach that the microbrewery has adopted since its inception in 2013.

“The whole process is done sustainably,” Birra Flea's Tozzi told The Local. “The whole brewery is powered by solar power from panels on the roof.” 

All papers and plastics used in production, and even the brewery's glasses, are made of recycled products. The new Birra Flea produced out of thin air will now compete with the brewery's other beers made of water from the Rocchetta fresh springs on the outskirts of Gualdo Tadino.

Most of the staff at the microbrewery are local residents from the Apennine Umbrian town of Gualdo Tadino. Some had no experience of working in beer production and have been trained by the brewery's founders since 2013. 

Birra Flea is available in pubs, bars and supermarkets across Italy and already exports between 15 and 20 per cent of its beer to markets in Europe, the USA, Australia and Far Asia, according to Tozzi.

A five-fold expansion is also in the works. A new brewery is under construction which will be five times larger than the current set up. The new site should be active from 2019, adds Tozzi.

And finally, consume responsibly: the beer is unlikely to vanish into thin air after too much consumption. 

READ MORE: A storm is brewing: A tour of some of Italy's new beers


La Bella Vita: Free Italian museum tickets, Sanremo, and real spaghetti carbonara

From seeing Italy's best sights for free to avoiding crimes against Italian food, new weekly newsletter La Bella Vita offers you an essential starting point for eating, talking, drinking and living like an Italian.

La Bella Vita: Free Italian museum tickets, Sanremo, and real spaghetti carbonara

La Bella Vita is our regular look at the real culture of Italy – from language to cuisine, manners to art. This new newsletter will be published weekly and you can receive it directly to your inbox, by going to newsletter preferences in ‘My Account’ or follow the instructions in the newsletter box below.

The cold weather and grey skies mean February is the month when I’m most tempted to stay at home and keep warm, preferably with an Italian hot chocolate. But it’s a shame to stay in when there’s so much to do and see in Italy, even at this time of year.

Carnival season officially kicks off this weekend, bringing much-needed colour and joy to towns and cities across Italy at what would otherwise be a pretty dull time of year. The most famous Carnival of all is of course in Venice, and this year’s edition promises a return to its former grand scale after three years of limited celebrations.

If you’re thinking of attending this year, here’s our quick guide to the events and what to expect:

Venice Carnival: What to expect if you’re attending in 2023

A masked reveller wearing a traditional carnival costume In St Mark's Square, Venice

The 2023 Venice Carnival will start with a floating parade down the Grand Canal on February 4th. Photo by Andrea PATTARO / AFP

Another reason to get out and about this weekend is Domenica al Museo or ‘free museum Sundays’, when museums and other sites open their doors ticket-free on the first Sunday of every month.

As admission to major historical monuments and museums in Italy often costs upwards of €15 per person, there are big savings to be made and the free Sundays scheme is understandably popular among both tourists and residents.

Free entry applies to hundreds of state-run museums, archaeological parks and monuments, including world-famous sites like the Colosseum, Pompeii, Florence’s Galleria dell’Accademia, the Reggia di Caserta and Trieste’s Miramare Castle. See further details in our article:

What you need to know about Italy’s free museum Sundays

There is however at least one good reason to stay in and watch some Italian TV: The Sanremo Music Festival returns on Tuesday, February 7th, and it will likely be the main topic of conversation all week.

If you’re a fan of Eurovision, you’re pretty much guaranteed to love it. But some people don’t find the appeal of the show immediately obvious, to put it mildly.

So what is it about the festival that pulls together an entire nation, regardless of whether they fall into the ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’ camp? We looked at just why this 73-year-old song contest is such an Italian institution.

Why is the Sanremo music festival so important to Italians?

In the latest international Italian food controversy, Italian media reacted with anger and dismay this week to a recipe published in the New York Times for ‘tomato carbonara’, which recommended adding tomato sugo along with the eggs, and replacing pork cheek and pecorino with bacon and parmesan – an adaptation which was described as “provocative”, “disgusting”, and a “declaration of war”.

For anyone who doesn’t want to traumatise their Italian dinner guests or risk sparking a diplomatic incident, here’s the classic recipe plus a look at the rules to follow when making a real Roman-style carbonara:

The ten unbreakable rules for making real pasta carbonara

However, you might be surprised to hear that adding cream – or tomato – to your carbonara recipe isn’t actually the worst food crime you could commit according to Italians.

From fruity pizza toppings to spaghetti bolognese, an international study revealed which of the most common international ‘adaptations’ are seen as most and least offensive.

RANKED: The 11 worst food crimes you can commit according to Italians

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Is there an aspect of the Italian way of life you’d like to see us write more about on The Local? Please email me at [email protected]