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For the series of our #StorieDiCibodietroLeSbarre, here is hops in prison.

We are preparing for the first harvests of fifty plants cultivated by the inmates, between the end of August and the beginning of September, of hops inside the “Lorusso e Cutugno” prison in Turin.

The project was born from the union of two Turin companies:

  • the Ecosol Social Cooperative which already works in the same structure producing saffron e
  • Birra Madama, Brew Firm of Turin led by the volcanic Alessandro Santinelli.

The project was born just over a year ago and today sees, on an area of ​​150 square meters inside the prison, the growth of 50 plants of three varieties: Cascade, Comet and Mount Hood.

So he explains Santinelli:

“The first two are very robust and able to resist disease well, while the third is mainly used in the United States, but not much in Italy.

The cultivation of hops that we have started is an experimental project that could grow and develop using the large strip of land still available. And even though various food products are produced in Italian prisons such as coffee, chocolate and the same beer, as far as the agricultural sector linked to hops is concerned, this is an all-Turin record ”.

The idea is to produce one beer a year that comes out with the Birra Madama brand.

“The hops will also be available for purchase from other breweries for the preparation of their cooked but it will take three years before the plants are fully operational”

Santinelli specifies.

The great value of this project, however, is above all social, as we see for all our Food Stories behind Le Sbarre:

“We started with a training course with which, together with the guys from Terra and Aria, we explained the characteristics of this plant, weed and stinging in the stem, just in view of the harvest. Some male inmates helped us plant the hops and are starting to hear this project from them: instead, the women will help us with the harvest., in which more careful and kind hands are needed ”.

The sale of hops will be followed by the Ecosol Social Cooperative and, when the path ends the experimental phase, the prisoners themselves will follow the fields, the growth and harvesting of the plants.

Always Santinelli, enthusiastic about the work and the project, declares:

“It is a great project not only because for me it is a great opportunity for personal growth, but also because I like to experiment and I find it wonderful to be able to work with people who have had difficulties, but who want new experiences, to learn , to get back in the game.

Our way of understanding beer, then, starts from an Anglo-Saxon approach in which the work on hops is fundamental and is part of modern schools that dissociate themselves from the more classic brewing styles “.

Birra Madama was born in 2014: the name is a declared homage to the city of Turin, its creative center is in corso Regina Margherita as well as, in summer, in the Beer-Garden Circus Bar of the Parco Le Serre di Grugliasco.

Now we just have to wait for the first harvest, and then the first production, to insert this beer and this story in its own right within the Food Stories Behind the Bars.

We await the first hoppy bottles.



Marco Ribaudo

Marco Ribaudo

For the love of food and wine! Marco Ribaudo, Certified Sommelier, with 25 years in the food and beverage industry now invites you to join him in his latest adventure, the opening of la Cucina del Vino to share his culture and passion for creating unforgettable memories around the table.

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