The exciting story of the brand that brought Messina to the world


By John

Reconstructing a “mythical” history like that of Messina Beer is not a simple undertaking, and only a collector with the extraordinary passion like Giovanni De Lorenzo, architect from Messina working in Florence, could create a volume as rich, as detailed, as evocative as the one published by Edarc, “Birra Messina. Since 1923. One hundred years of history”.
Leaving aside the complex vicissitudes – and the changes of name and ownership in recent decades, to which the author dedicates the last chapters -, we focus on the complex events of its wonderful history, which brought the name of the city of the Strait throughout the world.
Like Sanderson, the former Pistunina citrus company, Birra Messina also represents an example of cutting-edge and integrated entrepreneurship, capable of creating related activities and added values. It was born in October 1923 as Birra Trinacria, but soon became Birra Messina (Nuova Birra Messina in 1952) with a cutting-edge factory and local ingredients that make it a drink of excellence, with the aim of becoming «the most complete brewing organization in the South”.
Year after year, decade after decade, many elements are produced and spread which become a unique symbol of this production: personalized glasses and bottles, caps, wooden boxes, signs, magnificent polychrome plaques, vivid advertisements, multiple gadgets (from ashtrays to bottle openers, from fans to calendars). Identification elements that fit into the national advertising flow and beyond, of which De Lorenzo is a truly unique collector.
Tournaments were also born, the Sicilian Cycling Grand Cup of 1926 and the Football Cup of 1930, while the Trinacria drinks also established themselves: orangeade, mandarin, lemonade, chinotto. In the 1930s beer also arrived in the territories of East Africa. In the 1950s thirty thousand bottles were produced per hour, while modernity advanced (“From a thousand bottles every hour to 1000 bottles per minute”, said an advertising slogan published in the “Southern Gazette” of June 1965); the malthouse stands out as an element of excellence, factories are opened in Catania and Palermo, new global brands are created: St. George Beer, Birra Catania, Royal Beer, Birra Henninger and Falcon. Special competitions, national advertising campaigns, even films contribute to spreading the fame of this “Great Brand”, and the myth still today of a drink born on the banks of the Strait and reaching the whole world.
A book, therefore, which is a tribute not only to a historical brand but to the city of Messina, in a journey of rediscovery of the roots of one’s identity and vocations.