We met with Dominique Beretti, a Calvi local, who told us the story of how he set up his own brewery.
Running a Calvi brewery is a real challenge! Tell us what made you decide to set up your own brewery…
First and foremost, I have been a beer enthusiast for several years now. During my travels, I took great pleasure in trying local beers from different countries. Then, with the rise in Do It Yourself beer making kits at home, I became more curious. I started making beers for my friends, just as an aperitif. They were my first samplers and then I perfected my recipes over time. Then I decided to train at the IFBM, the largest European institute that provides training in brewing and malting. When I came back to Calvi, I finally worked on my own recipes and created compositions for at least 8 months.
Can you explain to us how you came up with your recipes?
Beer is only made up of 4 ingredients (water, cereals, hops and yeast) which give it the ‘beer’ label. The hops I use are grown in France, as in Corsica we don’t grow any…well any that can be turned into beer. Besides, we would need factories and top of the range technology to do that. However, long term, I would like to start growing hops and barley in Corsica. Perhaps one day we will have Calvi-grown hops!
When creating recipes, I of course wanted to make Corsican beers which stood out for their flavours and style. Currently, I produce 3 main beers: Firstly, L’Amiral, a pale ale brewed from cereals, which is not overly worked on and which has a light texture. Then there is La Patriote, an American Pale Ale which has flavours that don’t currently exist on the Corsican beer market. The last one is La Fidèle, a light Pilsner beer with a pale pink color and flowery aromas.
GLORIA (glory) is a punchy word which unites several symbols connected to Corsica. I love history and Corsica has often been glorious on the battlefield or during various revolutions.
In fact, this word is often found in historical texts about our island. In the 16th and 17th centuries, several Corsicans signed up to be mercenaries. At the Vatican, for example, the Corsicans were known as “the glorious ones”. Furthermore, the brewery’s logo is inspired by Corsica’s Allegory, commissioned by Pope Sixtus V. It features a woman sitting down holding a spear and a sword, surrounded by a dog (which represents pride) and a mouflon (a symbol of hunting). Similarly, the inscription under the painting illustrates Corsicans’ success: It reads “ Cyrniorum Fortia Bello Pectora” which means “Corsicans have fearless hearts when going into battle”. Corsica is thus represented as proud and loyal and that is exactly the image I wanted to depict with my brand. I then called upon a graphic artist from Balagne, Pierre Ridolfi, to stylise this allegory.
What were your inspirations for creating your recipes?
Each beer is connected to a character, a story and a name. The backstory is thus resumed on each bottle with a historical fact featured on each character.
For L’AMIRAL, which is a pale ale, I referenced Calvi by connecting it with Christopher Columbus, the admiral of the ocean sea. This beer with floral notes evokes the journey of the famous sailor who, before America, discovered one of The Bahamas’ small islands, famous for its flowers.
For the second beer, an American Pale Ale, I chose Circinellu, who served as a vicar in Southern Corsica and was also Pascal Paoli’s chaplain. In 1769, he eventually decided to leave the church to join the army. Despite his religious beliefs, he rallied together 60 men who fought alongside Pascal Paoli during the Battle of Ponte Novu. LA PATRIOTE is aptly named as it is a beer full of character which is tart yet fruity- as ambivalent as his character. Its two opposing flavours perfectly evoke the journey and patriotic pledge made by Circinellu.
What is your advice for sampling a GLORIA beer?
To sample one of my beers, you absolutely must drink it out of a glass as it allows you to get rid of any surplus CO2 and it enables the flavours to come through. Of course, the beer must be drunk chilled at between 5 and 8 degrees.
These beers are the ideal aperitifs for coupling with cheese: I deem that to be the best possible pairing. The pale ale is refreshing and it goes really well with a truffle brie for an aperitif amongst friends on Calvi beach. The American pale ale, is a , is a beer for savouring. It should be enjoyed sat on a terrace with a few slices of a Calenzana sheep milk tomme.
What do the locals think of your brewery?
I held a launch night in early June to present the brand’s beers in the heart of Calvi. It seemed as though the locals were pleasantly surprised. Also, I wanted to remain loyal to my home town, so the citadel and the Revellata lighthouse are also featured on the labels.
Restaurateurs also attended the launch night to taste the beers to subsequently offer them in their restaurants. I even had offers from distributors in PACA so my Calvi beer will soon be exported!
Finally, I’d like to open my brewery to tours and hold tasting evenings. That will allow me to share my passion with visitors and explain both my love for the local history and my choice of historical figures.
And in 10 years’ time…?
I dream of having my Calvi beer distributed worldwide and I’d like to become an ambassador for Calvi.
That’s it really! All that is left for us to say is happy sampling and à a salute or cheers!