How to brew an IGA: Italian Grape Ale

IGA - Italian Grape Ale - is a beer brewed with grapes wort.

It was brewed for the first time in 2006 but only in 2015 it was recognized by B.J.C.P.  (Beer Judge Certification Program) as the first “Made in Italy” brewing style. 
The IGA style is the fantastic intuition of making a combination of two ingredients, grape wort and malt wort, creating the union of the Italian wine tradition with the brewing world.

The structure of this high fermentation beer allows the brewer to "play" with the ingredients. In fact, there are no particular malts or hops that you have to use. It's possible to create levels of different flavors, bitter and aroma which change from recipe to recipe.

In addition, the unusual combination with grapes (fruit, wort or fermented wort), allows playing with the yeast.  Fermentation can be started through the classic yeast (Saccharomyces), but the fermentation process can also take place through the microorganisms that live on the grape, as a spontaneous fermentation.

Percentages are usually between 60-70% of malts and 30-40% of fermentable grapes.



The aroma is made up of hints of grapes, which must not cover the other aromas. The vinous character must be pleasant and oxidative hints must not be perceived.
The flavors of the malt are low, while the notes of hops can have an intensity that varies from medium-low to absent.
Some IGAs may have an earthy or lactic scent, which however remains moderately low. Diacetyl is not accepted!



The color of IGA beers can take on different shades ranging from golden to dark brown. 
The chance to have a red or ruby ​​color is due to the use of red grapes. The foam, which generally has little retention, has a color that varies between white and reddish. Usually IGA are clear beers, but this factor can be influenced by grapes. 




The taste of IGA-style beer can have different interpretations.  
As for the aroma, the vinous character must be present with an intensity that can vary from subtle to medium.  
Depending on the type of grape, there are different aromatic combinations. Generally with the use of white grapes, the aromatic notes recall tropical fruits (peach, apricot and pineapple).  
By using red grapes, however, aromas of cherry and strawberry are obtained.  Furthermore, the fruity scent could also come from fermentation.

Various special malts can be used in recipes of the IGA style. They must provide balanced support, without concealing the character of the beer.
Medium-high carbonation improves the perception of the aroma.  
The medium-low body in combination with the acidity can contribute to the perception of dryness in drinking.




The IGA wort can be made with one or more different types of grapes, with white or red grapes (based on the availability of the territory, or perhaps based on the cultivation of friends / relatives) and can be prepared in 3 different ways:

Cooked Wort: boiling grape wort, even for 3 hours, is certainly the wisest and most prudent choice, especially if you want to produce an IGA at home without having too much experience. Grapes, and especially wort are in fact an excellent soil for yeasts and bacteria and if you do not want to risk contaminating beer, it will be necessary to make everything sterile by boiling. In this way, some aromatic properties of the grape wort will certainly be lost, but we can have more experimentation in the procedure. In fact, the sterilized must can be added not only during boiling but also in fermentation, in the primary one as in the re-fermentation in the bottle.In the latter case, however, when serving, it will be necessary not to pour the bottom of the bottle into the glass.

Sapa: by prolonging the boiling of the grape wort for a longer time, saba or sapa is obtained, a kind of syrup, used by farmers for the production of homemade desserts and to enrich poor dishes. The huge advantage of sapa is its long shelf life, in fact it can be kept in a tightly closed and cool container even for several months. It can then be used in the same way as cooked wort.

Fresh Wort: it certainly allows you to keep all the organoleptic qualities of the grapes unaltered, however it requires the use of a fresh wort of the day. In this way, just add it 10 minutes after the end of boiling to eliminate all the bacteria on the skins. However, it can also be experimented by adding it to the second fermenter, when fermentation has taken place and the alcohol content of the beer has already developed: in this way, in fact, alcohol will inhibit the contamination of the bacteria / yeasts of the grape wort, even though this may be in minimal part. This is certainly the riskiest method and requires more experience.


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