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Birrificio Messina - Made in Italy

From Catania to Messina: a stage in resilient Sicily

The story of a historic brewery that was reborn after being sold to the Heineken Group thanks to the initiative of fifteen previous workers.

reading time3 minutes

Today, the Giro d’Italia continues to pedal in the beautiful land of Sicily with the Catania – Messina stage as we continue to explore the region’s outstanding features. In particular, we await the maglia rosa (pink jersey) in the city of the legendary Birrificio Messina, a Made in Italy story of resilience. a Made in Italy story of resilience.

A hundred years of history

The brewery has a long history. It was founded almost 100 years ago in 1923 by the Lo Presti-Faranda family to produce a beer named Birra Trinacria, later changed to Messina, Birra di Sicilia.

Birrificio Messina
Birrificio Messina

In just a few years, the Birrificio, with its bottled beers featuring a baroque label, took root in the area, becoming a symbol of it and coming to sell outside the region’s borders. After years of success, however, international competition caused a deep crisis, and in 1988, the brand was sold to the Heineken Group. Production moved to Puglia, in Massafra (Taranto), while the via Bonino plant in Messina became a mere bottling centre. In 2007 Heineken announced the final closure of the business unit.

A cooperative relaunches the brewery

An Italian company bought the Birrificio, but the crisis, unfortunately, led the company to the feared layoffs. The story could have ended here, in 2011. Instead, in 2013, 15 former employees and master brewers decided to become entrepreneurs. They invested all their severance pay in the brewery, where their families worked for generations, setting up the Birrificio Messina Società Cooperativa.

Birrificio Messina Cooperative
Birrificio Messina Cooperative

A winning idea

The idea soon proved successful, and in January 2019, a commercial agreement was signed with Heineken to produce the Cristalli di Sale variant. Twenty-five thousand hectolitres of this beer are produced partly in Messina (letter E on the bottle) and partly in Apulia (letter M). In addition, the agreement provides for marketing for five years the beers entirely produced in the Sicilian plant, with brands owned by the 15 entrepreneurs: Birra dello Stretto and Birra Doc 15, a more than evocative label.

Congratulations to those who don’t stop, start again and take Sicily’s beer to the world!

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