Birrificio Parsifal, the Italian Round Table
Parsifal craft brewery, located in San Raffaele Cimena (Turin), is named after Perceval (Parsifal, in Italian): the young hero and righteous knight who sat at King Arthur’s legendary Round Table. His life was dotted with wondrous adventures – as always happens in great legends – culminating with the quest for the Holy Grail.
The brewery’s owners are named Sergio and Guglielmo: they chose “Parsifal” as a synonym of “knowledge”, hoping to enter a world of research, imagination, and creativity – all of which are still the main ingredients in their work. Little did they know that their job would also bring adventures, big and small, in their daily lives. We asked them to tell us more.
Your first steps in beer making have a “Round Table” vibe…
Yes, in a way. In fact, we first got into brewing because we loved sitting down with our friends so much: our business evolved from our love of good company. We have always believed that high-quality food – eating and drinking well – can improve both the number and quality of our relationships. Making our first attempts at home brewing was the next step. At first it was just a way to have fun, but then we started to think we might turn that hobby into something more.
What is your work philosophy?
We didn’t decide to start a microbrewery together until we had reached a certain age. But we’ve always been craftsmen at heart, and have always appreciated a job well done, with great personal care, putting art before technology.
Does this approach have a recognizable influence on the end product?
We think so. Our beers all carry our passion within them. Every brew is a creature of tradition in terms of style, nourished with the care that only a real “Art-isan” can provide. This approach has led us to favor the most natural productive methods: we don’t pasteurize, filter, nor bottle referment. Thus our beers have no added sugar and maintain all of the organoleptic features of their original ingredients.
Is there a trade-off between artisanal care and commercial success?
Our company obviously cannot compete with mass-market producers. And exporting to foreign countries is ruled out because we would have to somehow process our beers…
You have chosen a hard job for yourselves…
We see it as challenging, more than hard. But yes, it’s more challenging than you might think.
But your clients reward you with their appreciation.
Absolutely. Luckily people have responded well to our products, and seem to search for quality more than ever. We are definitely going through a period of crisis, but even this financial crunch has a silver lining: it is teaching consumers to value quality over quantity. Trade journals and popular TV programs are also increasing general awareness about food quality, good eating habits, and even craft beer – as a deserving complement to many great dishes.
What are your sales goals?
Our most important goal is to uphold the quality of our products, or even improve it where possible. As we mentioned before, we cannot hope to approach the foreign market because we would need to change production methods, and growing closer to industrial processes is against our vision. We would like to become a local point of reference, a place where people know they can drink an excellent beer and eat good food in a pleasant environment. Our beers are also sold by a small number of intermediaries in Northern Italy, but we have selected small businesses where clients know they can find high-quality, natural products: that’s as far as our “exportations” go for now.
But wouldn’t it be great if the Made-in-Italy excellence of craft beers like yours could be known abroad too?
Sure, bringing Italian products to the world is a wonderful thing… but nothing beats bringing the world to our products! Eating or drinking something in the place where it was made is an unparalleled experience. Looking at a photograph of the Mole Antonelliana in Turin’s skyline is not the same as being there, breathing the crisp air that comes from the Alps, listening to people speaking Italian around you, and smelling the chestnuts roasting on a street vendor’s cart. We live in a country that has infinite potential for wine and food tourism, and much more. We could lower our unemployment rate substantially by exploiting such potential in a completely ethical and fair way. In some cases, resorting to exportations diminishes products, increases costs, has a negative impact on the environment, and leads manufacturers to compete over a few cents. Perhaps we should rethink our economy, keeping a more open mind and never forgetting that we are a great and creative people, who breathe art and culture since the day we are born. All we need to do is learn to take care of our own “home”, and invite the world to come sit at our table.