Sunday, November 27, 2016

The mustachioed man on the Birra Moretti label gets a trim.

In the mid-1980s, when I first visited Italy, the country was by no means a beer destination.

However, the scene was changing, even then. Demographics were key, as younger Italians gradually rebelled against the wine-centricity of their elders by embracing beer, which at the time meant the usual vapid international golden lagers like Carlsberg and Heineken.

These days, craft/specialty brewing is firmly established in Italy, though less so in Sicily, where we vacationed during Thanksgiving week. There is a world-class beer bar in Catania, our destination, and I'll describe it when there's time.

Of course, Italy always has had standard golden lagers of its own. In the eighties, I preferred Dreher, but it was less common than Peroni Nastro Azzurro and Birra Moretti. Michael "Beer Hunter" Jackson had a high opinion of Moretti LaRossa, an amber, malty lager somewhat after the fashion of a Vienna. Sadly, I saw none of it in Catania.

In terms of mass-market fashion sensibility, a crucial factor in stylish Italia, Birra Moretti always was the hands-down winner, and so it remains. The brewery, which is located in northeastern Italy near Austria, was purchased by Heineken 20-odd years ago, and its trademark mustachioed man has experienced ... shall we say, evolution?

Interestingly, this man was a real person. Here's the story, circa 1942, as explained at Moretti's web site, and followed by the first-generation visuals.

One day, in 1942, the nephew of Luigi Moretti, the founder of the brewery, going out for lunch saw a pleasant-looking man sitting at a table in the Trattoria Boschetti in Udine. There was something unique in that man.

By 2010, there had been a metamorphosis.

What’s changed? For starters, his Reverse Hitler ‘Stache has grown into a Flanders. Also, his de-aged design has given him the strength to hoist the mug of Moretti with noticeable gusto.

In the 2016 label below, as gracing the bottles I recently drank in Catania, he seems a bit bleached -- and I swear, the mustache keeps getting smaller, although it's probably my imagination.

The bottom line: It's possible I won't drink another Moretti until the next time we visit Italy, but it's strangely comforting to know that this classic imagery persists.


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