Nearly every brewery we visited had some barrels. None had vast numbers of them, but considering their local consumers don't really care for sour or barrel-aged beer it was interesting the brewers were doing it anyway. Those barrels take up space, time and capital, so there must be something else at work. Perhaps some of their efforts are in response to markets outside of their's, but I think it speaks to the collective interest in trying new things and using what's available locally. Of course, there's no shortage of barrels in Italy.
Birra Del Borgo
Birrificio Del Ducato
While these programs are currently small they are sure to grow. Birrificio Italiano has just a few barrels now, but they have added space at their new brewery to do more experimentation with barrels.
At Toccalmatto we had the opportunity to sample a nice, dry, tart sour stout straight from the barrel. Bruno's program is also small, but we know he's looking toward the future and a new, larger brewery might have a considerably expanded program.
Del Ducato may have one of the more aggressive barrel programs of the breweries we visited, Panil aside. They are currently bottling a few and are sure to expand at their new facility.
Panil, of course, is entirely 100% barrel-aged beer. Everything they produce is sour and it is all exported. I think eventually the Italian beer drinker will catch up to this style and realize how refreshing they can be and how well they can pair with food, which is something an Italian more commonly looks for in a beer.