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Baladin News

R&D-the Baladin approach

The thought which guides the research and development activities of the Baladin farm brewery descends from a clear and concise slogan launched in 1996
by its founder and master brewer Teo Musso: “taste in evolution”. This tendency to evolve all aspects of products, production techniques, our philosophy and communication has constantly guided the vision of Baladin and makes it an inspiring example for many. By way of example, here are a few important milestones in this process of evolution.
 

- Our products: since their very launch on the market, Baladin beers have presented themselves as a unique product, often clashing with the classic market of beer. They were created with the clear intent of combining them with food. This led to a careful and almost obsessive search for the right balance of tastes and scents, using Italian and foreign ingredients to expand the exploration of new aromas. This search for balance had the clear goal of making a unique, recognizable product with a strong personality which, at the same time, would not overpower the tastes of the food it would be paired with. Quite the opposite: the combination should enhance the characteristics of food.
- Packaging: the idea and ambition of Teo Musso and Baladin was and still is to spread the knowledge and culture of Italian beer – of course, craft beer. To this purpose, it was necessary for the products to be available on the market, and not just at local level. This led to a key decision in terms of packaging: selling bottled beers, rather than kegs. Why is this an innovative choice? There a few reasons. A keg does not identify the product as a label on a bottle would. Also, a Baladin bottle could be served at the same table where wine was sold, with equal dignity. It was a far-sighted and innovative choice: the idea was to create a unique, distinctive bottle of the brewery, combined with a distinctive label which would clearly state the name of the beer with a specially developed lettering. It may seem like a carefully thought-out marketing choice, but it was still only the beginning of the craft beer movement in Italy and it was very early days for such a young market. It was indeed a very significant, innovative decision.
- New distribution channels: Baladin opened a new channel for the distribution of beer: restaurants. Let’s expand on this. Of course beer was sold in restaurants long before the first Baladin bottle was sold, but the approach to selling was different. Beer was normally sold by distributors as a complement to wine and water, without really paying too much attention. More importantly, restaurant owners would sell it without a defined objective other than to meet the occasional requests of people who did not want to drink wine. Baladin changed all this: as soon as the first beers were bottled, 500 packs were sold to the same number of restaurant owners. The accompanying letter mentioned a beer menu, combinations with food, and explained how to serve the “light colored” beer (ISAAC) with “light colored” food. It may sound as a simple approach - and it was - but it was very innovative when it was first suggested. It was the first step in a long process of education which is now bearing its fruits. This innovative approach was noticed by producer Carlsberg who, in 2005, awarded Teo Musso and Baladin the “semper Ardens awards for beer culture”, given to those who contribute to the development of the “beer culture” in the world. Teo, the first Italian to receive the award, was acknowledged as “promoter of beer culture in the world of gastronomy and in the catering industry”.
- Sustainability: no project, even if virtuous and far-sighted, can survive for a long period of time without sustainability. We are visionaries, but we are practical too. Baladin has created a series of conditions and prerequisites which have allowed the brand and its products to grow and establish themselves on the market. Baladin created a specific company to distribute its products in Italy and manage relationships with foreign customers. Again, it was a brave and innovative choice - although possibly non the easiest one (it would have been quicker and less risky to work with a third party distributor) - which has allowed the company to have a direct understanding of the market. The brewery also made the innovative choice to develop a short production chain, with the commitment to directly produce its ingredients. This led to the first 100% Italian beer made with Italian ingredients (our Nazionale), including Italian hops from an experimental cultivation managed by Baladin. It has now become a completely (maybe the first) autonomous brewery: from the production of raw ingredients, to their processing, from beer production to the optimization of energy resources and finally distribution.
- The agricultural production chain: “Beer is Earth!”. This is the innovative message launched by Teo Musso and Baladin many years ago. Again, it may sound obvious but it is not. With wine, it is only normal to think of the connection between farming and the end product. When it comes to beer brewing, however, it almost seemed as if beers were the outcome of some chemical alchemy. But the connection with the soil and farming is very deep. The main goal of developing a short production chain is to be directly responsible for the entire production cycle of our beers, starting of course form the soil and the ingredients that it produces. This is a long and challenging process which began in 2006 with the first experimental fields of cereals for beer production in Piedmont. The initial 4 hectares have now expanded to 130 in Melfi, in Basilicata, where the weather conditions are more favorable. In 2012, Baladin proudly became a farm brewery. We produce barley, as well as hops – certainly a first in Italy.
- The search for energy optimization: trying to optimize the sources of energy has always been one of the goals of Baladin. In the near future, we will get closer to achieving it, thanks to the innovations which will be introduced in the new production plant. At the moment, the use of solar energy, combined with the recirculation of the heat generated during the production process, the purification of wastewater, which is then reintroduced in the environment, and the purchase of electric power from controlled providers are the current strategies to save energy. In the near future, our ambitious goal is to become 100% independent from external sources of energy.
- Birra: culture and sharing – the “OPEN” project: the success of Baladin is also due to its innovative opening to consumers and competitors. This has translated into the Open project. Open was created as the first “open source” beer in Italy: its recipe was published online so that passionate homebrewers could replicate a professionally produced beer. The goal: raising the interest of the public through an innovative communication channel. The project later grew into the “Open” pubs where - in addition to Baladin products - beers from selected Italian craft breweries are also sold (draught beers as well as 100 bottled beer labels). The goal: it is an innovative way to communicate the new world of Italian craft beer, offering an important window to producers. We have also created the Open Baladin Fest: a festival of Italian craft beer where producers are invited to participate as guests and tell about their experiences and products. 160 draught beer are offered. The goal: using an innovative communication tool to targets a mass audience. Finally, we have now come up with the Open kit. It is currently being developed and it will be a high quality preparation for home brewing. The goal: involving people with an innovative home brewing kit which can further grow the knowledge of beer and of the world behind it.
 

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