“Theologians think to have the questions. Scientists think to have the answers. I think it’s time to have another beer.”
Many of you know craft beer, but how many of you really know what’s behind the idea of making up such a complex activity from scratch? A process made of meticulous research of raw materials, of natural expectations that seem endless and countless tests? The raw materials used to produce a good craft beer are the key to success, starting from the hop, the prince and the ‘flavor’ of the drink, up to the water. The latter represents 70% of the product; as in our body, as for the Earth, water is the resource that holds elements together and gives life. It is not a coincidence that the two entrepreneurs Matteo Minelli and his wife Maria Cristina Cocchi, tickled the idea of producing something starting from our water, the water of Gualdo Tadino, one of the purest and most precious in the world. Its source is hidden in the “Gola della Rocchetta”, the water flows directly from the rock and gives birth to one of the most known and appreciated waters in the world.
Here is the “chapter water” solved! Now we needed someone able to translate, mix and “cook” the raw materials in order to start the first official test. In the spring of 2012, Matteo began to develop a strong curiosity towards craft microbreweries; his curiosity stems from his personal passion for Italian craft beers rather than filtered beers or wine. A craft beer is not filtered; the natural sediments that may be present in the bottle are a sign of the authenticity of the processing and the taste is so intense that it almost seems to eat more than drink. During the search path to this new adventure he met a master brewer, Rolando Della Sera with whom he began a series of telephone calls to understand which were the prerogatives to product craft beer, and, above all, where was the most suitable place for the alchemy.
In this situation, Ecosuntek Spa the lead company founded by Matteo in 2008 together with his grandfather Vittorio Rondelli who is the owner of the homonymous company of building construction, and other minority shareholders came to help us. The first batch was brewed inside the shed used for renewable energy. Thanks to the experience of the master brewer and the attention of Matteo in making available whatever he needed, the first beer was immediately a success: the taste was excellent, despite the materials used for producing were coming from a no professional “Home Made” kits. That was the spark from which whatever started.
Here is the “chapter first boiling of beer” solved! Now we needed a cosy place where to give life and grow up our dream. This special space for the construction of our craft brewery was identified in the “Case Alibrandi” area (an industrial area in the south of Gualdo Tadino), where there was already a building owned by the Minelli’s family and used until then as a tool shed for building tools for the still existing company of Matteo’s grandfather Vittorio. The view was and still is amazing, hills as far as the eye can see from north to south, from east to west, plowed fields all around suitable for the future cultivation of barley and hops. An idyllic dream which took shape within a few months with the construction of the small brewery in the spring 2012.
Here is “chapter Brewery” solved! Now, the most beautiful and creative part but also the most difficult had to begin. We needed an effective name for our beer, a name which reflected the affection for our origins and for our territory, a name of immediate reading, remembrance and farsightedness but also a name which hided all the love for our local roots and history. Matteo thus asked for the help of his wife Maria Cristina; they spent whole days looking for a name that would recall in all respects their link with the territory, a name which would have made Gualdo Tadino resonate not only within the national territory but also and above all on the international one. Indeed, Matteo’s strength, has always been that to think big, to strongly believe that this beer could overcome medieval walls to reach infinite destinations. The final choice was “Birra Flea”: the name was inspired by the homonymous fortress, an ancient medieval construction located in the upper part of the city of Gualdo. An architectural masterpiece built by Emperor Frederick II of Swabia in 1242 that many people envy us and which from the height of its majesty, fought wars and experienced rebirth. Nowadays Rocca Flea is the headquarter of the Civic Museum of the city of Gualdo. But how could we link such a ‘young’ project probably addressed to young consumers to such an ancient history? The person who made the modern reconstruction of old historical texts was the historian Prof. Michele Storelli from Gualdo. We have to thank him for the literal history of Birra Flea because despite a few years of activity it is still so relevant. Prof. Storelli historical and cultural knowledge was a truly precious help and resource for Matteo and Maria Cristina: with him they reconstructed the “Genesis” of the Rocca Flea and all the characters who at that time plied its court. Professor Storelli managed to go back to the origins with careful meticulousness, leaving nothing to chance and obtaining precious and reliable historical sources. Together with him we put the first pillar for the construction of our history:
“Gualdo Tadino and water, that is an ancient and inseparable bond. The ROCCA FLEA which from its high position dominates the city, was so named because it was built not far from the river Fleo or Flebeo, an ancient name coming from the word “φλέψ, φλεβός” used by Greek historians ang geographers to indicate the presence of water veins. Emperor Frederick II visited Gualdo Tadino around 1242, in the years of the dispute with the Papacy, there he found the loyal Ghibelline town of Gualdo destroyed after a terrible fire. Touched by the fate of the allied town, the Emperor showed his generosity by building the new city walls, of which he personally laid the first stone of the renovated “Flea Castel”. Moreover, << he rode around this land, and sowed with his own hands wheat, barley, spelt, broad beans, millet and other oils; he asked the Almighty to help the Castle grow and the people multiply, and to ensure them food and an everlasting safety>>. (Chronicon) . Therefore, Birra Flea originates from the well-known waters of Gualdo Tadino and the seeds sown by Emperor Frederick II many centuries ago.”
While the brewery consolidated its foundations in the fertile soils of the rural area of Gualdo, the road became increasingly fascinating and complicated: we had to face the choice of the first types of beer and their names. Therefore, following the logical thread to connect the whole business idea to our territory, the first four types of beer were born and their names came from the historical protagonists of Gualdo at the time of King Federico II. Thus was born the first red beer, our highly appreciated Bastola, the blonde Costanza, the blanche Bianca Lancia and the golden Federico II, the only man among the ladies represented. We will tell you more about the theme of heroes, colors, logos and labels in the next articles, we want to reserve a special space to such a fascinating topic as well as to present you the persons who contributed to give a lasting image to our project!
In the end, on a very hot day of mid-June 2013, the Flea brewery was finally inaugurated. The brewery had a latest generation plant able to produce 24 hectoliters of beer per continuous cycle, with a fermentation and storage cellar of 400 hectoliters and with a production capacity capable of exceeding 3 million annual bottles. Not forgetting the “green” aspect that has always characterized our ideas, the building was entirely built in class B + and completely autonomous from an energy point of view. The brewery has a fully integrated photovoltaic system installed on the roof and photovoltaic shelters on the parking area with a recharger for electric cars in order to grant a very low environmental impact.
With this few but significant words, we wanted to give you the opportunity to know something that it is not easy for us to describe in words. When you do believe in a dream that becomes reality, all the words of the world are useless. The final message we would like to pass on is: believe in you dreams! Despite the crisis and the obstacles, bet on what you believed in and adding a little luck and a spirit of enterprise, the results will be there waiting for you.
We end this reading with a significant and emblematic phrase Matteo said during his inaugural speech in 2013: “Thanks to everyone who believed in it and starting from today will continue to believe in it, with the hope and the desire to find ourselves here again next year to celebrate the success of Birra Flea “.