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Innovating also means being able to cooperate. You cannot do everything on your own.
To achieve the goals ahead of us, it is necessary to choose the right partners who can stimulate ideas or develop them thanks to their specific professional skills. Whether it is the creation of a new product, sharing it with other master brewers, working on a new production technique or growing an ingredient, Baladin – following its “open” style – is happy to cooperate, share and look for support.
 

Here are a few examples of this approach.
- Farming hops in Italy: Italy is not known for growing hops for beer production. Baladin – in its attempt to create a short supply chain for its ingredients – started an experimental cultivation of hops. But how could we understand how to farm it, choose the right techniques and treatments for the plant, and choose the best strains? Assuming we could do everything by ourselves would have been a utopia and certainly not realistic. The project was, in fact, the result of a joint effort. Thanks to the cooperation with the Institute for Agricultural Studies of Cussanio (CN) and “Tecnogranda”, Baladin created, with a joint investment, the first cultivation of hops in Italy on a big enough field for a relevant production of beer. Hops are grown on a 1 hectare experimental field in Cussanio, near Cuneo. The plants were planted in 2008 with two goals in mind: learning and producing a sufficient quantity of hops to produce a 100% Italian beer. It is intentionally a non-intensive cultivation, which yields half of what it should. 600 plants have been planted and the chosen variety is Hallertau Mittelfrüh, of German origin. The planting required 7 m high poles (2 meters are in the ground) to support the plants, from which only the flowers are picked. After evaluating the initial results, the intention is now to plant another 5-10 hectares, directly managed by Baladin, for the intensive cultivation of hops. The goal is to harvest the first yield in 2017. It is a great investment that the brewery firmly believes in. At first, the harvested flowers will be treated in Belgium to turn them into more practical “pellets”, but the idea is to create a complete production cycle in Italy by the time the new plantation will be fully operational.
- Italian barley for Italian malt: Italy produces spring two-row barley, the variety used for beer production. Baladin has taken on the commitment to produce it itself and actively cooperate with one of the few independent malting facilities in Italy for its processing. This has required significant physical and economic efforts, however necessary to continue along the path towards becoming a completely independent brewery, including the supply of ingredients. The right land was identified in the Basilicata region for two main reasons: the perfect weather and geographical conditions, and the closeness to the malting facility Agroalimentare Sud, which completes the operation by transforming barley into barley malt. Believing in the project of Teo Musso and Baladin was not easy: the brewery was small, as well as the initial land. But we were the first, the innovators, those who have introduced a new way of looking at the cultivation and use of barley for beer production.
- The “Etrusca” archeo-beer: Etrusca is the search for a possible ancient recipe for a fermented drink of Etruscan times. It is the result of our desire to experiment and possibly innovate by looking at past and at the use of fermentation techniques and ingredients which are unusual in modern beer brewing.
Three exceptional master brewers have embarked on this adventure: Teo Musso from Baladin, Leonardo di Vincenzo from Birra del Borgo and Sam Calagione from Dogfish Head, in cooperation with American archeologist professor Patrick McGovern, director of the laboratory of Molecular Archeology at the University of Pennsylvania and an expert of fermented beers. The idea is to recreate a “beer” which the Etruscan may have drunk more than 2500 years ago, selecting ingredients based on the findings at several Italian archeological sites under the supervision of Dr. Pat. It is a complex recipe, shared by the three master brewers who have then decided to differentiate their individual beer by fermenting it with three different techniques. Baladin uses a large oak wood barrel; Birra del Borgo use terracotta jars and Dogfish Head bronze containers. In the case of Baladin, the malty flavors mainly come from the barley malt produced in its fields in Melfi, with the addition of some “senatore cappelli” wheat. The significant use of spices is the core of the research carried out on the habits of the Etruscans, who flavored fermented drinks with hazelnut flour, pomegranate fruits and juice, honeys, sultanas, natural resin and gentian roots. Only a very small quantity of hops is used – the minimum amount required by law. We only use Italian hops, grown by Baladin. Finally, the yeast comes from a very old strain, more than 1500 years old, which has been obtained thanks to our friend-biologist Duccio Cavallieri, a lecturer at the Research&Development center of the Edmund Mach Foundation from S. Michele all’Adige. The result is a beer with an intense straw-yellow color, complex aromas with a pleasant combination of hazelnut, wood and honey notes; the acidity – reminiscent of the long gone Etruscan times - is strong but well balanced and refreshing.
- Studies on the use of different aging containers: this project and study complements the work we do in the Cantina Baladin laboratory and was carried out for the degree dissertation of Ms. Francesca Toso. We attach the contents of this important work, which we were happy to share and support when defining its contents. Innovating by sharing creates the right conditions to allow young minds to contribute to the growth of our work, using the skills acquired with us and presenting new and enriching points of view. THE DEGREE DISSERTATION OF MS. FRANCESCA TOSO
- The Slow Food Presidium cola: in 2010 Slow Food contacted us to suggest an innovative product made with a special ingredient: the African cola nut, a Slow Food Presidium. Two years later, after an incredible number of tests and improvements, we developed the first 100% natural and fair-trade cola! “Cola Baladin” is a soft drink which contains no artificial colorings or preservatives and is made with the cola nuts of the Kenema Cola Slow Food Presidium in Sierra Leone. By purchasing the nuts and giving some of the sale revenues to the cola nut producers, we offer a small source of income for the Presidium. Our recipe is entirely natural and full of great ingredients: the citrusy flavors come from oranges form the Gargano, lemons from the Amalfi Coast and myrtle-leaved oranges from Savona. The complex spicy aromas come mainly from the Kenema cola nut, as well as cinnamon, coriander, cardamom, nutmeg and other secret spices. Water and white cane sugar are the only other ingredients. One important and curious note: the use of these cola nuts and the choice not to use any artificial coloring mean that the new Baladin drink has an “unusual” color for a cola: it’s red! This peculiar color distinguishes it from other more “commercial” products and makes it immediately clear that we are not just pursuing profits, but are trying to get a message across: often, it is very easy to do your part to support those who cannot even support themselves. For us at Baladin, this is also innovation.
 

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