Every bar, pizzeria, restaurant, and supermarket stocks Birra Ichnusa. It is the go-to beer for Sardinians and popular among tourists too. Ichnusa is an iconic brand, with cult status on the island. For over 100 years Ichusa has been a symbol of the island, pride for many of its inhabitants.
The Four Beers
Currently, there are four different beers brewed by Ichnusa in Assimini. The original Ichnusa, Non-Filtrata (Unfiltered Ichnusa), Ichusa Cruda (Raw Ichnusa) and the light Birra Limone (Lemon Beer).
The Story of Ichnusa
The first brewery in Sardinia was opened in Cagliari, by entrepreneurial pioneer Amsicora Capra. He specialized in the production and the export of fine wines, but following a crisis affecting wine production in Sardinia in 1911, he decided to enter into the brewing sector. The First World War arrived a couple of years after the founding, Ichnusa would not become well known until several years after the wars. Production suspended during World War Two, and it wasn’t until 1945 that Ichnusa became successful in crafting a strong bond with the Sardinian people.
In 1963 they expanded opening a new brewery in Assimini, near Cagliari. The success continued, booming in the 80s which attracted the attention of Heineken Group. The business was acquired by Heineken in 1986; they began to expand further and modernize the production processes. Heineken has managed to put the beer in almost every bar and supermarket on the island so that every Sardinian can enjoy a beer made on the island.
The beer can almost exclusively be found in Sardinia, but Ichnusa has also achieved international success, at The Superior Taste Awards in Brussels. Although Ichnusa now belongs to the Hienikan Group, they have managed to maintain the culture and taste of the beer. It is a traditional beer comparable to craft beers that are popular today.
The Sardinian Brand
The branding of the beer incorporates the Sardinian flag know as I Quattro Mori. The flag of Sardinia shows four moors heads that represent Moorish kings defeated in combat by the Crown of Aragon and the cross of Saint George. The beer is intertwined with the identity of the Sardinian people, one reason for its success and dominance.
Where does the name come from?
The name Ichnusa comes from the Greek word Ichnussa (Ιχνουσσα). It is believed that this name has its roots in the Greek word “Ichnos”. Ichnos originally means the footprint of a human foot. You must be wondering why the island was named so, and whether giants once lived on this island. But the main logic behind this name is the fact that when we look closely at the map of this island, it looks like a large footprint.
Sardinian sun and a cold beer
Sardinians drink twice as much beer as the mainland of Italy. They consume 60 liters per person per year. In any town in Sardinia, you will find the local people socializing together at the local bar before lunchtime. Older Sardininans meet up together to play cards and talk about current affairs. Ichnusa is a part of Sardinian life, its logo meets you at every turn. The red and white of the label. When eating Pizza in Sardinia it isn’t complete without a cold bottle of Ichusa. Personally, I prefer non-Filtrata Ichnusa, it is a little more expensive but the taste is exceptional, it has a pleasant straw flavor, its texture is creamy and a trace of light bitterness in the background.
Where can I buy Inhnusa outside of Sardinia?
Have you returned from the island and miss the taste of Ichnusa? It is very difficult to find outside of Sardinia. Birra Ichnusa does have an Amazon account where they deliver to the United Kingdom and Europe, have a look here. Unfortunately, there is a high delivery charge to get it to your door. The best option is to visit your local craft beer shop, there is a small chance they will have it, if not speak with them they may be about to source it for you.
You can buy by the original Inchusa Birra from Beers Of Europe, in the UK. Unfortunately, they don’t stock Non-Filtrata.
Craft beer in Sardinia
In recent years there has been an emergence of craft beers on the island, in fact, today there are around 24 artisan breweries across the island.
A wonderful craft beer brewed by Il Birrificio di Cagliari created a beer named Figu Blache based on the taste of an Indian Fig which is the fruit from a cactus plant which is prevalent in Sardinia.
Bars in Sardinia
Every town has multiple bars in Sardinia. It is common even for small villages to have four or five bars. They work as cafes and bars. A very relaxed mood during the day, where locals come to have a couple of beers or some wine, in the evenings the bars really full up especially in the summer months when lots of Sardinians return to the island to spend their holidays with their families. They have lots of catching up to do and where is a better place for that then the local bar.