Sardinian beer is fabulous!
Beer lovers unite! Recent decades have seen a craft beer revolution sweep across Sardinia, with more than a few microbreweries popping up here and there on the island. If you’re looking for the best spots to indulge in craft beer, you’re in the right place! Did you know that the island is the largest pro-capita consumer in the country?
Alas, say goodbye to commercial beers and hello to unique flavor profiles and multidimensional sensations on your palate. Seeking boldly assertive aromas paired with hop bitterness? How about malty sweetness with notes of caramel? Good beer is widely available in Sardinia, but the best craft beers can’t be found everywhere. But I have good news for you: I love my beer, and I am ready to spill the best-kept local secrets and tell you where to go in search of good beer on the island.
Ichnusa Beer, The Most Popular Sardinian Beer
Ichnusa beer is a locally produced beer that you’ll encounter everywhere on the island – and in fact, it’s one of Italy’s favorite beer and it became so popular that you can now find it across Europe too – I remember being able to drag an entire group of friends to drink Ichnusa in a pub in London! No matter where you go, whether it’s a grocery store, pizzeria, or small beach stall, make sure to grab a cold bottle of Ichnusa to discover the authentic taste of Sardinia. In fact, you didn’t really visit Sardinia unless you had a bottle of Ichnusa beer.
There are four different types of beer produced by Ichnusa:
- Inchusa classica – the original Ichnusa;
- Ichnusa al limone – a light lemon beer;
- Ichnusa non filtrata – an unfiltered beer and my personal favorite;
- Ichnusa cruda – and a raw beer.
Lauded as the patron beer of Sardinia, Ichnusa has been around for over 100 years. The brewery was founded in 1912 by Amsicora Capra, a local entrepreneur who until then had been working on wine esport with his Vinalcool. The name comes from the Greek Ichnussa – the first name of Sardinia whose roots are found in “ichnos,” which means footprint and refers to the shape of the island.
It took more than three decades – after World War II – for the brewery to fully take off and go beyond small regional distribution. With time, Ichnusa became so successful that it attracted international attention and in 1986 it was acquired by the Dutch Heineken, which pushed an incredible marketing campaign.
The first Ichnusa brewery was located in a very central area of Cagliari, between Via Marche and Via Baccaredda, but in 1963 it was moved to Macchiareddu, an industrial area of Assemini, a small town in the outskirts of Cagliari. The original building where the brewery was located was demolished in 1975.
To date, Ichnusa commercials are among the best ones you may come across on TV and social media. My favorite is this one.
Now that you know about Sardinia’s most famous beer, let me tell you about the best up and coming craft beer.
GOOD TO KNOW: Other than at the breweries where they are produced, all the Sardinian beer mentioned below are available at most good pubs, bars, pizzerie and restaurants throughout the island.
The Best Places For Sardinian Beer
Birrificio 4 Mori – Montevecchio
Birrificio 4 Mori is a Sardinia brewery located in Montevecchio. The brewery itself is right on the site where an old mining train station once stood! It offers beer tastings with cheese and meat pairings and dessert to boot!
Birrificio 4 Mori also hosts Oktoberfest events, if you happen to be visiting Sardinia during that time of year. My favorite brew is the Pozzo 16, which is fresh and light, and their most popular beer. They also produce seasonal releases – usually very creative beers like a snazzy and jazzy blackberry beer.
Birrificio 4 Mori is situated in a unique location and has created a rustic space that honors the land it stands on.
Marduk Brewery – Irgoli (Nuoro)
Marduk Brewery is a microbrewery located in the village of Irgoli, in the province of Nuoro. They make a fantastic Bohemian Pilsner, as well as some great IPAs. Marduk’s Black IPA was probably the most unusual beer on their menu when I visited. It’s a true agricultural brewery, with 95% of the raw materials produced within the company! They have all the land, the equipment, and the knowledge to take beer from the fields to your bottle. It is a brewery where every teeny tiny detail is done with passion!
Birrificio Artigianale Chemu – Cagliari
Birrificio Artigianale Chemu is situated in Cagliari. Simply called Chemu for short, the translation means “group of four” in Sardinian. Four is a nod at the four main ingredients in beer – yeast, malt, hops, and water. Chemu’s first beer, and their most popular beer to date, is their Blonde Ale “Lei.” It’s malty, fruity, and sure to please the pickiest beer drinkers out there. First opening their doors in 2012, this brewery is not to be missed.
Birra e Casu – Cagliari
Birra e Casu is a nice pub located in Cagliari. The name translates to “Beer and Cheese,” and they have certainly stayed true to their name! This small restaurant is where you should go to find top-notch local craft beer, accompanied by delicious cheese boards. Expect to spend approximately 15 euros per person on your beer and cheese board.
Birrificio di Cagliari – Cagliari
Birrificio di Cagliari is Cagliari’s flagship brewery. In fact, it’s the very first microbrewery to open in all of Sardinia in 2008 and it has unparalleled passion and professionalism. Their brewpub and restaurant is a favorite for locals and tourists alike and is usually packed.
Their restaurant features dishes inspired by their beers. They have a chili that has been made with their pale ale, and a tiramisu that has their Casteddu stout blended in it. Cagliari Brewery prides itself on crafting inventive cuisine that keeps the beer at the forefront of your experience. They also have menu options for vegans and vegetarians.
Keep in mind that their beers are not pasteurized or filtered, so every single sip of beer bursts with natural flavors and aromas. It’s definitely one of the best Sardinian beer.
Birrificio Gattarancio – Cagliari
Birrificio Gattarancio is a brewery located just a quick 15-minute walk from the city center in Cagliari. It’s a large restaurant that has tables downstairs and upstairs, as well as some outdoor seating. Even though it’s a large space, Birrificio Gattarancio is usually very busy, so it is recommended to book a table in advance. Order their T-bone steak and pair it with one of their fabulous beers – but I shall warn you, the steak is massive!
Doppio Malto – Cagliari
Doppio Malto is one of the best places in Cagliari to go to sample artisanal craft beers. Located in Viale Marconi, one of the busiest streets outside the center of town, this is a large brewery housed in an industrial-style warehouse. Doppio Malto offers captivating beer tastings and a wide variety of beers to sample. They also have a restaurant with a fairly extensive menu. Craving chicken wings and onion rings? Doppio Malto is where to go. Also, if you’re gluten-free, Doppio Malto has a shockingly good gluten-free beer.
Birrificio Artigianale Le Springo – Quartu Sant’Elena
Le Springo is a craft brewery in Quartu Sant’Elena that is open 24/7. Their tasting room is on Via Orlando 13 in Quartu Sant’Elena. It’s a casual, informal spot with simple, unostentatious decor. Their most popular beer is the Springolandia Golden Ale beer, which is elegant and slightly floral.
The Aura American Pale Ale is vibrant and lively, with quite the kick of hops balanced with hints of tropical fruit. Le Springo Brewery is warm and welcoming, a place where you can stop by and end up sitting for a couple of hours chatting with the owners.
Beermania Brew – Selargius, Cagliari
Beermania Brew is located in Selargius, just six kilometers outside of Cagliari. With a name like Beermania, you have to expect things to be a little zany and playful, don’t you? Their logo features a cartoon sheep stuffed into a beer stein. The four beers you simply have to try are Bella Marigosa (Hopped Golden Ale), Matagá (a Zesty Pale Ale whose name is a pun of the Sardinian for “what the heck?!”), Arruinada (Creamy Red Ale), and the Cinixiu (Chocolate Brown Ale).
Birrificio Terrantiga – San Sperate
Terrantiga isn’t a brewery proper – but a beekeper organization that makes some of the best beer in Sardinia. While they don’t produce directly they certainly take great care in ensuring that you get the most fragrant beer. Their Istadi won the prize for best spelt beer in 2019, but if you ask me, their signature beer is Nibari, a juniper IPA and my choice of beer any time I eat pizza.
Birrificio Artigianale Nanumoru – Sanluri
While Birrificio Artigianale Nanumoru in Sanluri officially opened its doors at the end of 2017, their origin story begins with a group of friends in the 1990s experimenting with beer. Sanluri is a town in the south of Sardinia halfway between Cagliari and Oristano. Their craft beer is exceptional and definitely exhibits a high level of creativity.
At Nanumoru Brewery, they produce “live” beers, which means they’re unpasteurized, unfiltered, and free from preservatives. When you visit, expect to be taught the ins and outs of the brewing process and walk away with extensive craft brew knowledge! Enjoy a meal and be tempted to sample every single beer that they thoughtfully, carefully, and lovingly craft.
BAM Birrificio Artigianale Mogorese – Mogoro
Situated in the Oristano Province, around 60 kilometers northwest of Cagliari, lies the town of Mogoro. In this charming town, you’ll find the incredible BAM Birrificio Artigianale Mogorese microbrewery. All their beers have the word “Explosion” in their titles, and they all erupt with flavors and aromas.
The Mogorese Brewery first began its production at the beginning of 2016. Their beers are truly artisanal – exquisite, in fact. Make sure to try my favorite beer on offer when you visit – the Winter Explosion.
Rubiu – Sant’Antioco
With a relaxed warehouse atmosphere, Rubiu Brewery in Sant’Antioco is a fantastic place to go for dinner and a beer. This craft brewery whips up handcrafted beers and delectable pizzas that are the talk of the town. During the peak tourist season in the summer months, Rubiu can get quite busy! Expect a bit of a wait time, but trust me, it’s worth the wait! With authentic artisanal beers and remarkable pizzas crafted with a nearly infinite selection of locally sourced ingredients, you’re sure to walk away from Rubiu Brewery very satisfied.
GOOD TO KNOW: Levante is Cagliari’s branch of Rubiu. You’ll find excellent pizza and, needless to say, their signature beer.
Birrificio Artigianale Horo – Sedilo
Birrificio Artigianale Horo is a modern, hip brewery located in Sedilo, roughly 110 kilometers north of Cagliari in the province of Oristano. It’s a small, thousand-year-old village known for the annual horse race that takes place on July 6 and 7. Regardless of the time of year you visit, you need to head to Horo Brewery.
As a matter of fact, this is more than just a brewery; it’s a phenomenal gastropub that plates scrumptious cuisine to keep your belly warm and happy. They have a cool beer garden to sit out in and soak up some Sardinian sunshine while sipping on excellent craft beers— try the Weizen for an approachable, thirst-quenching beer on a warm day. My favorite is their Monk beer, a dark-colored brew with strong caramel notes. You’ll love it!
Birrificio Barley – Maracalagonis
Barley Craft Brewery was founded in 2006 in Maracalagonis, just 12 kilometers northeast of Cagliari, and strives to offer refined beers with robust tastes and bouquets. Moreover, it brews three beers in continuous production and rotates nine other beers with it for a total of twelve beers on tap at the brewhouse. The beers are “live” in that they are non-pasteurized and unfiltered.
What impressed me most about the Barley Craft Brewery is that they utilize seasonal and local ingredients in their beers, such as the Cannonau Grape and orange flower honey from their neighborhood beekeepers.
Birrificio Dolmen- Uri (Sassari)
Birrificio Dolmen is located in Uri, a village in the northwest of the island in the province of Sassari. It first opened back in 2005. They have a wide selection of high-quality beers, like a bright blonde ale, a strong IPA, and a golden Pilsner. They offer an excellent tour of their brewery, which concludes with tasting barley wine!
That is quite a special drink to sample, as barley wine is hard to come by these days, especially at a first-rate quality like Dolmen’s barley wine. While Dolmen Brewery might not look like much with its unassuming cream-colored rectangular building, Dolmen might just blow your mind.
La Volpe e il Luppolo – Simaxis (Oristano)
Simaxis lies in the province of Oristano, approximately 90 kilometers northwest of Cagliari. This village lies along the bank of the Sant’Elena River and is an agricultural hub for wheat. That makes it the prime location for an epic brewery: La Volpe e il Luppolo. The translation of La Volpe e il Luppolo is “The Fox and the Hop.”
This microbrewery sources its water from the springs of Monte Grighine and firmly believes that beer tastes best when the ingredients are the best you can find. Their most popular beer is the Torraghettai (which translates as “pour it again”), a crisp, fresh Belgian Ale. Their SPA, Sardinian Pale Ale, has a curious complexity with notes of pepper. And I swear their Frù Frù beer tastes like basil!
Birrificio Ilienses – Lanusei
Lanusei is in the central-eastern area of Sardinia in the province of Ogliastra. It’s a traditional mountain village that is a surprising home for a fantastic craft brewery – Birrificio Ilienses. Birrificio Ilienses serves four beers and randomly releases special edition beers that are notoriously incredible. Whether you’re driving through the mountains in central Sardinia, or willing to take a detour, head on over to Birrificio Ilienses!
Birrificio DAN – Carbonia
Carbonia is a town in the southwest of Sardinia that is just a quick hour train or car ride from Cagliari. Birrificio DAN is the best microbrewery in town. It produces five beers – Arturo (Czech Pilsner), Korra (amber ale), Triguria (weizen), Sa’Deunu (similar to German doppelbock), and the Groga (pale ale). While Birrificio DAN certainly doesn’t look much from the outside, you’re sure to fall head over heels for its distinctive beers.
Final Recommendations: How To Order Beer In Sardinia
The Italian word for beer is “birra” and that’s what we also use to refer to beer in Sardinia. There is a whole set of words we use in Sardinia to refer to beer. When walking into a pub or bar, you should ask for a spina – pronounced speenah – by which we refer to a draught beer; or a spinetta – speenetah – a small draught beer. A spina is usually 40 cl in size (so smaller than a pint), whereas a spinetta is a 20 cl – less than half a pint.
We also use the words 0.40 (zero quaranta) and 0.20 (zero venti) to refer to the size we want.
When we order bottled beer, we usually just say the name of the beer we want, but a fun word to know is “scioppino” which in Cagliari refers to small bottles of either 33 cl or even 20 cl.
Looking for the best food and drinks in Sardinia? Make sure to read these posts:
- 15 Must Visit Wineries In Sardinia
- A Guide To Sardinian Wines
- Where To Find The Best Pizza In Cagliari
- 15 Incredible Restaurants In Cagliari
- Where To Stop For A Coffee In Cagliari
- The Most Delicious Sardinian Food: Everything You Must Try
- How To Prepare Malloreddus Alla Campidanese (Gnocchetti Sardi)
- How To Make Pani Frattau
- How To Make Sardinian Culurgiones
- How To Make Seadas – Sardinian Cheese And Honey Pastries