I’d been wandering through the Travestere neighborhood of Rome for maybe 30 minutes when I found my first Italian craft beer bar.
Yep, my instincts are good!
Bir & Fud (yes, its real name: it doesn’t get more basic than that) turned out to be one of three exceptional beer bars I found in central Rome. All of them offer great selection, passionate and knowledgeable staff, and tons of atmosphere.
Take my first find: Bir & Fud had a great vibe right from the start. I had to work through a crowd of people drinking, chatting, and dodging scooters on the narrow, cobblestone street just to get into the place. Inside, I found a space that couldn’t be more than 12 feet wide but stretched so far back that I never made it to the other end. The front is a long bar with 20 taps, and there’s a restaurant at the back.
Ditto my third find, My-Ale, located on a quiet side street on the east side of the Tiber. It appeared tiny—until we realized it extended underground via a twisty set of stairs where a cavern-like space offered numerous comfy nooks and crannies.
All three places had an extensive collection of Italian craft beer (see below from more details of what I tried), plus a few international selections as well. Most importantly, the staff were totally into beer and understood it, offering suggestions and being excited were trying Italian craft beers.
What About Florence?
Florence has some decent beer bars, although nothing that quite reaches Rome standards.
There’s a local chapter of Brewdog, the Scottish craft brewer that’s expanded massively (including opening a brewery in Columbus, OH). Their focus is on Brewdog offerings, which are very good but not Italian, but they did have a couple of Italian beers on tap and, more importantly, the bartender (who I think might also have been the owner) was very passionate about beer and very friendly. Definitely worth a visit.
I also stumbled across a nice tavern called Beer House Club, a perfect place to stop after a few hours immersing myself in art at the Uffizi. Nice taproom with a variety of seating options. Huge, almost overwhelming bottle selection plus 12 drafts on tap, including three Italian beers.
What About Breweries?
I completely struck out on visiting an actual brewery. There’s one located close to downtown Rome, Birra Mustacanus, but they didn’t appear to have a taproom. The others were a little too far out of town to visit, which is too bad as one of them, Jungle Juice, is making great beers and I would have loved to visit.
Florence has a small brewery called Archea that’s right across the Arno from the historic district but I never made it. Their web presence is minimal as are their hours so I’m suspecting they’re just getting going.
Let’s Do Some Tasting
I tried many different beers (just to help you out, dear reader). I’ve already written about how I hope there’s a new style emerging in Europe, but here are some highlights (all of the listed breweries are Italian):
- Isola Palmaria Ale, Birrificio del Golfo: This may be the best European-style IPA I tried. They call it an Indian Pale Ale, which may be a typo or translation issue. It’s maltier than American IPAs but with a nice hop bite that, at 45 IBUs, is not over the top.
- Scarliga, Rurale: Advertised as a European Double IPA, this was completely different and very good. As with the above, it’s definitely maltier than a typical double IPA from the US, but not as flat as a British Imperial IPA, and it had a nice hops kick. This may be the new style I referenced in my last post.
- U Baccavianca, Ca’ Del Brado: This was a fascinating “grape beer” that offered sour notes with a bit of a bite, but not one that’s over the top. It reminded of a more astringent saison. Tart, crisp, very full on the tongue. I‘ll have to check and see if this style is available in the U.S. as it‘s definitely worth exploration.
- L’Ariccina and Diana Di Nemi, Birrificio Castelli Romani: Two outstanding saisons! The first is a classic saison, just perfectly executed. The second uses spelt (new to me) and was also delicious, with a slight almost ginger ale flavor.
- Choose a Big Fucking Television, Jungle Juice Brewing: a nice hop-forward double IPA that’s smoother than the 8% ABV would imply
- Session #44, Vento Forte: An exceptional session IPA with fantastic aroma, perfectly clean and grassy, perfect on the tongue with a light aftertaste and smooth mouthfeel.
- Parrot Invasion, Rebels: a good, basic well executed IPA