Italy is famous for its wide variety of excellent wines, but sometimes, all you need is a cold beer to quench your thirst!
Whether you’re having an aperitivo with friends, ordering a draft beer at a pizzeria, or hoping to buy a drink for someone at the pub, knowing how to talk about and order beer in Italian can be really helpful. And while Italy is firmly nestled in the “European wine belt”, Italian microbreweries and craft beer are becoming more and more common throughout our favorite peninsula.
In this article, we’ll go through vocabulary related to beer and practice useful phrases that will help you sound like an Italian beer expert with each sip. Andiamo!
How to say beer in Italian
Before we can approach the Italian bartender with confidence, we need to study the basics. So, the first thing you should know is that “beer” in Italian is feminine, and takes the articles la or una.
- beer - la birra
- a beer - una birra
- two beers - due birre
…and so on!
For the purposes of this article, we’re going to use the feminine indefinite article, una, which is like “a” or “an” in English. Basically, if you’re going to order a round for your friends at an Italian pub, knowing how to say “a beer” is more relevant than saying “the beer”!
Types of beer you can order in Italian
If you’re in a typical Italian bar or restaurant, you’ll probably come across one of these five popular Italian beers:
For the average beer drinker, these are all pretty similar when it comes to taste and quality. Even though their names are all different, they are all birre, so they’re all technically feminine! This means that you can use una when describing these specific types of beer.
You could say: Vorrei una bottiglia di Peroni, per favore. But you’d probably hear an Italian person just referencing the beer itself: Vorrei una Peroni, per favore.
Common colors and sizes
Although our table below will go into more detail, you should at least know three main categories of beer colors:
- bionda / chiara (blonde / pale)
- ambrata (amber)
- scura (dark)
The most common sizes you’ll find on an Italian restaurant’s menu or beer list are:
- una birra piccola (small, around 6 ounces), and
- una birra media (medium, around 13 ounces)
Although pitchers of beer might be popular in the USA or northern European countries, you’re unlikely to find anything bigger than a birra media on Italian menus.
Keep in mind that in most places in Italy, you can order certain types of beer (like lager, pilsner, stout, and porter) without an Italian translation. In any case, you’ll see the most similar Italian translation for these types of beer on our table, too!
Later on, we’ll go through some examples of putting all of this together when ordering. For now, here’s a sneak peak of my go-to order: una bionda media alla spina, per favore!
|Beer||una birra||oo-na bee-rah||ˈuna ˈbirra|
|Draft beer||una birra alla spina||oo-na bee-rah ah-la spee-na||ˈuna ˈbirra alla ˈspina|
|Bottled beer||una birra in bottiglia||oo-na bee-rah een boh-tee-lya||ˈuna ˈbirra im botˈtiʎʎa|
|Lager||una lager / una birra chiara / una bionda||oo-na la-gher / oo-na bee-rah kya-rah / oo-na byon-dah||ˈuna ladʒer | ˈuna ˈbirra ˈkjara | ˈuna ˈbjonda|
|Pilsner||una pilsner / una pils / una birra chiara / una bionda||oo-na pils-ner / oo-na pils / oo-na bee-rah kya-rah / oo-na byon-dah||ˈuna pilzner | ˈuna pils | ˈuna ˈbirra ˈkjara | ˈuna ˈbjonda|
|Stout||una stout / una birra scura||oo-na stout / oo-na bee-rah skoo-rah||ˈuna stout | ˈuna ˈbirra ˈskura|
|Porter||una birra porter||oo-na bee-rah por-ter||ˈuna ˈbirra porter|
|Amber beer||una birra ambrata||oo-na bee-rah am-brah-tah||ˈuna ˈbirra amˈbrata|
|Wheat beer||una birra di frumento / una birra di grano||oo-na bee-rah dee froo-men-toh / oo-na bee-rah dee grah-no||ˈuna ˈbirra di fruˈmento | ˈuna ˈbirra di ˈɡrano|
|Ale / Pale Ale||una birra chiara||oo-na bee-rah kya-rah||ˈuna ˈbirra ˈkjara|
|Sour ale||una birra acida||oo-na bee-rah ah-chee-dah||ˈuna ˈbirra ˈatʃida|
|Red ale||una birra rossa||oo-na bee-rah ross-sah||ˈuna ˈbirra ˈrossa|
|Craft beer||una birra artigianale||oo-na bee-rah are-tee-jah-nah-leh||ˈuna ˈbirra artidʒaˈnale|
|India pale ale (IPA)||una IPA||oo-na ee-pah||ˈuna ˈiˈpiˈa|
|Root beer||una root beer / una birra alla radice||oo-na root beer / oo-na bee-rah ah-lah ra-dee-che||ˈuna root beer | ˈuna ˈbirra alla raˈditʃe|
|Gluten-free beer||una birra senza glutine||oo-na bee-rah sen-tsa gloo-tee-neh||ˈuna ˈbirra ˈsɛntsa ˈɡlutine|
|Sweet beer||una birra dolce||oo-na bee-rah dole-che||ˈuna ˈbirra ˈdoltʃe|
|Non-alcoholic beer||una birra analcolica||oo-na bee-rah an-al-kol-ee-ka||ˈuna ˈbirra analˈkɔlika|
How to describe beer in Italian
What’s better than ordering a beer in Italian? Describing the type of beer you want, of course! If you’re ready to impress your friends by chatting with the bartender about the flavor profiles of your malty beverage, this table is for you.
There are just two important things to remember:
- When describing the beer you want, the adjective will usually follow the noun.
- The adjective must agree with the gender of the noun (which in this case, is feminine!)
Imagine it’s a really hot day and all you want is an ice cold beer. Here’s what you could say:
Vorrei una birra ghiacciata, per favore! - I would like an ice cold beer, please!
|Delicious||deliziosa/o||deh-lee-syo-zah deh-lee-syo-zoh||delitˈtsjoza delitˈtsjozo|
|Cold||fredda/o||fred-dah fred-doe||ˈfredda ˈfreddo|
|Ice cold||ghiacciata/o||gya-cha-tah gya-cha-toe||ɡjatˈtʃata ɡjatˈtʃato|
|Light||leggera/o||leh-jer-rah leh-jer-roe||ledˈdʒɛra ledˈdʒɛro|
|Hoppy||luppolata/o||loo-poh-lah-tah loo-poh-lah-toe||luppolata luppolato|
|Fresh||fresca/o||fres-ka fres-ko||ˈfreska ˈfresko|
|Fruity||fruttata/o||froo-tah-tah froo-tah-toe||frutˈtata frutˈtato|
|Malty||maltata/o||mal-tah-tah mal-tah-toe||maltata maltato|
|Sour||acida/o||ah-chee-dah ah-chee-doe||ˈatʃida ˈatʃido|
|Earthy||terrosa/o||teh-roe-sah teh-roe-so||terˈroza terˈrozo|
|Spicy||speziata/o||spets-ya-tah spets-ya-toh||spetˈtsjata spetˈtsjato|
|Citrusy||agrumata/o||ah-groo-mah-tah ah-groo-mah-toe||aɡruˈmata aɡruˈmato|
|Balanced||equilibrata/o||eh-kwil-ee-brah-tah eh-kwil-ee-brah-toe||ekwiliˈbrata ekwiliˈbrato|
|Full-bodied||corposa/o||kor-poh-sah kor-poh-so||korˈpoza korˈpozo|
|Dry||secca/o||sek-kah sek-koh||ˈsekka ˈsekko|
(Note: You would use the feminine version of these adjectives for birra, but we’ve also listed the masculine version for reference.)
How to order a beer in Italian
Here are some useful phrases you can use to invite someone out for a beer, order another round for the group, and even offer to pay for someone’s beer - among others!
|Wanna get a beer?||Ti va una birra?||tee vah oo-na bee-rah||ti va ˈuna ˈbirra ‖|
|I would like a beer, please.||Vorrei una birra, per favore.||vor-ray oo-na bee-rah per fah-vo-reh||vorrei̯ ˈuna ˈbirra | ˈper faˈvore|
|Can I buy you a beer?||Posso offrirti una birra?||poh-so off-ree-tee oo-na bee-rah||ˈpɔsso ofˈfrirti ˈuna ˈbirra ‖|
|I need a beer!||Ho bisogno di una birra!||oh be-son-yo dee oo-na bee-rah||ˈɔ bbiˈzoɲɲo di ˈuna ˈbirra ‖|
|Another beer, thanks!||Un’altra birra, grazie!||oon all-tra bee-rah grats-yeh||unˈaltra ˈbirra | ˈɡrattsje ‖|
|I’ll get the next round!||Prendo il prossimo giro!||pren-doh il pross-ee-mo gee-roh||ˈprendo il ˈprɔssimo ˈdʒiro ‖|
|I’d like to try an Italian beer.||Vorrei provare una birra italiana.||vor-ray oo-na bee-rah ee-tall-ya-na||vorrei̯ proˈvare ˈuna ˈbirra itaˈljana ‖|
|What do you have on tap?||Quale birre avete alla spina?||kwa-leh bee-reh ah-veh-teh al-la spee-na||ˈkwale ˈbirre aˈvete alla ˈspina ‖|
A visit to the birrificio
Now that we’ve gone through all of the basics, it’s time to put everything together with a trip to an Italian birrificio (brewery). To do this, let’s look at three stages of a conversation between our friends, Marco and Lucia.
|M: What an awful day! I really need a beer.
L: Come on, let’s go to happy hour!
|M: Che giornataccia! Ho proprio bisogno di una birra.
L: Dai, facciamo un aperitivo!
Marco and Lucia have arrived at a birrificio, but Lucia has no idea what type of beer to order since her usual drink is an Aperol Spritz. This is a perfect opportunity to ask the barista for a suggestion!
|L: What do you recommend?
B: What type of beer do you like?
L: I don’t know. Usually I like pale ales.
B: In that case, I’d say a Moretti! Draft or bottle?
L: Bottle, please.
|L: Cosa mi consigli?
B: Che genere di birra preferisci?
L: Boh! Di solito mi piacciono le birre bionde.
B: Allora direi una Moretti! Alla spina o in bottiglia?
L: In bottiglia, per favore.
The bottles are getting emptier by the minute and Marco is hoping that Lucia will treat him to another beer. Dai, Lucia, he’s had a bad day, remember?
|M: Want another beer?
L: It depends…who’s paying?
M: I’ll get this one, ok?
L: Then, yes. Definitely!
|M: Ti va un’altra birra?
L: Dipende. Chi paga?
M: Offro io, ok?
L: Allora, si. Molto volentieri!
Un altro giro, per favore!
Now that you have all of the basics to order a beer for yourself and your new Italian friends, the only thing left to do is keep the conversation flowing! Don’t forget to brush up on your Italian vocabulary and check out the other Italian online courses on our website. Cin cin!