Saturday, 9 July 2011

Rome part IV

The Trevi Fountain

In short, my Rome holiday so far has been truly awesome. Combining great beer and being surrounded by history, culture and architecture has been a brilliant combination. But don’t expect hunting beer in Rome to be easy. Unlike destinations like  Brussels or California, you will need to look a bit harder for great beer and when you do find it, it won’t be cheap. The Italian craft beer movement is still currently blossoming and if you have trouble finding the likes Bir & Fud or Open Baladin a small number of bars and restaurants around the city do have small range of craft beers available.

St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican.

So after the last post I managed to talk the wife into a further trips to Bar 4:20 where I tried some Nogne Imperial Brown Ale,  double IPA from Japan and 8Wired iStout from New Zealand before I was finished off by a De Molen Bommen & Granaten barley wine style ale (memories of this were quite vague though you can just about read it in the notebook). Open Baladin was also re-visited for a taste of some Del Borgo Genziana, a saison with a spritzy red fruit like character. Opperbacco Tripping Flowers was another delightfully subtle, elegant example of Italian craftsmanship with sweetish elderflower like notes. Exceptionally fresh.

My first Open Baladin experience

Another interesting beer of the holiday was the Stone-Baladin collaborative brew, Super Arrogant. An 8% powerhouse that looks very similar to the original Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale. The aroma is intense and threatening, like you can tell a brutal burst of aggressive hops is upon you on the first taste. In short it smells a bit like Arrogant Bastard Ale. But the wave of cascading citric hop resins swiftly opens up to bold caramelised malt and sappy red and stone fruits. It doesn’t hit you as hard as Arrogant Bastard Ale will, and even though I’m an Arrogant Bastard Ale fan I do find this more interesting, like an Italianised version of the original.

Chocolate cheesecake made with Baltic Porter matched with Baltic Porter.

After this we headed off to Bir & Fud for the second visit of the holiday for some pizza, Extraomnes Zest and a few more Del Borgo beers. But it hasn’t all been about beer hunting. I’ve checked out the Colosseum, the Spanish steps, tried my first Campari and orange juice, endlessly avoided people trying to sell us hats and umbrellas and tried some really nice Chanti whilst watching the world go by sat outside a street restaurant.  

I tried cigars with smoked beer, imperial stout and red wine but still think malt whisky and dark rum are the best matches.

In many ways the Italian brewing scene has taken on a similar approach to what the Americans did, taking on any worldwide beer style as their own. But where the yanks frequently set out to make things bolder and more in your face the Italians turned to straight creativity with an open mindedness and respect for the balance and subtlety that was so valued by their influencers. Many are probably aware by now of the strong Belgian influence in Italian brewing, and like them their practices draw no rules, borders or boundaries just possibilities. It’s this kind of attitude that’s given Italy such a diverse array of craft beers in the such short period of time the Italian craft beer movements been around.         

The beer list at Open Baladin

And as we come to the last day in Rome, tonight we will be visiting the last of the top 4 beer bars in the city - Ma Che Siete Venuti A Fa, or the Football pub. Hopefully there will be some good beers on the menu to round off a great holiday.

Lapping it up at Bar 4:20


ZakAvery said...

Even though it's over a year since I visited, I can still remember the taste of arancini and smoked tomatoes in Bir E Fud.

Even though I've been there, I'm jealous. Or maybe it's because I've been there, and know how great it is?

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