Why an Italian brewery opened Doppio Malto - a craft beer bar in Glasgow

Italians have had a love affair with Scottish beer for years, so what prompted one of their most popular craft beer bars to make the move to Scotland? Rosalind Erskine investigates.

Published 8th May 2023
Updated 9 th Aug 2023

In what seems like a made up fact, but is not, Italians love Tennent's Super and Tennent's Extra. Yup, the extra strong beers that you'd never normally associate with the stereotypically refined character of Italians.

This is something that's baffled many Scots while holiday, but this cultural oddity is linked to Italy's love of strong beers, known as Doppio Malto or double malt.

Interestingly, Doppio Malto is the name of a range of stylish craft beer bars (and brewery) that have venues in Milan and which opened in Glasgow in 2021 - the first UK venue for the brand.

Founder Giovanni Porcu was brought up in Sardinia and was a lawyer in Rome before opening a brewery in the Como region in 2015. After establishing their bar restaurants in Milan, they now have venues across northern Italy.

On opening in Glasgow in August 2021, Giovanni said: “Opening in Glasgow is a significant milestone for Doppio Malto; our first foray into the UK since we opened our first restaurant in 2016. We are incredibly proud to be in a position of growth despite a tough 18 months and we cannot wait to open our doors.

“At the very heart of Doppio Malto is our motto “un posto felice” - a ‘happy place’. Everything is designed around feeling good - from the food and beer to the service and physical space, and we are so excited to bring this unique concept to the UK.”

Why Glasgow was chosen for Doppio Malto

Giovanni also said that he chose Glasgow as the first UK outlet for Doppio Malto as it’s where he spent his honeymoon and it was during this time that he ‘fell in love with Glasgow.’ He also said: “Glasgow is a very opened minded city with a very strong cafe culture so it’s the perfect place for us to launch in the UK.”

Giovanni added: "Glaswegians are like Italians. Customers in Glasgow are more like customers in Italy as both look for real experiences (when it comes to dining).

"Glasgow has such a strong Italian heritage and it has got a really strong Italian identity. At Doppio Malto it is about the beer and the food, but also this is a place for an Italian community."

Asked what's next for the huge venue, which sits on the site of former Jamie's Italian on George Square, Giovanni said: “I’d like us to introduce more comedy and music events, we have the space downstairs. I feel like our venue can offer lots of different things.

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"We can give you great Italian craft beer, good food. Now we are set up in Glasgow we will focus on what else we can add to the experience.”

What's on the menu?

As Giovanni grew up in Sardinia, where there is more of a brewing culture and beer is present at meal times, he was keen to showcase this in the bars.

When the brewery at Como began he saw the opportunity to bring that culture to Milan with dishes that are infused with flavours that compliment their own beers.

This is something that can be seen in the Glasgow bar, which has the feel of an Italian BrewDog. Although pizza and pasta are available, the focus is on meat platters.

Dishes include beer-drenched roast chicken, served whole with hot and spicy sauce, through to prime cuts of Black Angus sirloin seasoned with Trapani salt flakes and EVO oil char-grilled as well as ‘Brace Mista’ platters to share.

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This platter consists of sirloin sliced steak, whole roast chicken, pork ribs and Italian sausages. Served with oven roasted skin-on potato wedges, grilled vegetables, beer flavoured mayonnaise and beer gravy on the side.

Doppio Malto beers

Doppio Malto

Giovanni said of Doppio Malto beers: "We tend to produce drinkable beer that's maybe less complex then Scottish beer, which is what we're used to. What we produce is the way it arrives directly to the customer."

There's no Tennent's Extra or Super here. Instead there are beers that from pilsner through IPAs and stouts.

For those looking for that high ABV hit, Imperiale is a full-bodied black IPA style with high fermentation that is only sold on draft or go for Super Chiara, a lager that's very refreshing. Sexy IPA is also a crowd pleaser.

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Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne, whisky and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind is the Food and Drink Editor and whisky writer for The Scotsman, as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.
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