When In Rome, Drink Good Beer

Open Baladin located at Rome's downtown has the sexiest interiors. 

When I told a friend of mine my plan for Rome, she thought I was crazy not to include wine at all. Italy is a wine country. The place oozes wine everywhere you go and its history supports that; their first vineyards and winery date back to the 8th century. You will remember in Ceaser III that wine trade fetched you the best prices. We are, fortunately, in the 21st century and with that, has come a trend in crafty brews. Making beer is the new shiny thing that everyone wants to do. So when the brewing wave came aboard the Mediterranean shores of post-millenia Italy, the centuries worth of craftsmanship took over instead on barley and hops than their usual grapes creating one of the most mature neo craft beer scene in Europe. 

Italian Grape Ale (IGA) uses grapes and malt to produce a high ABV brew.

Like how one can't get over their ex, Italians couldn't get over the fact that had to give up grapes. Lo and behold, companies like BB Evo pioneered the use of grapes in their malting process, creating what's now known as the Italian Grape Ale (IGA). Top fermented, sweet on the tone, these brews are delicious if paired correctly. I have had instances where it was tad too sweet for me. But that could easily be because I had a small sample to try out to begin with. I did find dryer IGAs on the menu. Never tried.

There's a lot of styles from choose from.
Quite a break from asian lineups.

What's striking for me is the depth in the menu. Asian lineups typically consist of the usual suspects; so-so stout, so-so pale ale, so-so wiezen. There's also an issue of finding similarly tasting beers everywhere. Italian brewpubs take it to the next level; bavarian lagers, IGAs, belgian lambics, saisons, tripels and most importantly for me, the sours. You should check out Cadel Brado because these guys are as close to Italian Sour Alchemists (ISA) as it gets. 

My favorite: Ma Che Siete Venuti a Fà

If I had to really boil it down to one place, it has to be Ma Che Siete Venuti a Fà. The owners opened this some 20 odd years ago, when Italian brewing scene was in its infancy. The story goes that they fell in love with Bavarian Lagers and decided that their country needs to try it as well. I had my first bavarian at this very place and not surprisingly my year's first HOLY SHIT moment. Brewing lagers is one thing. Brewing a complex, delightful lager is entirely another. The people on the counter were kind enough in educating me on Italian beer scene, what they thought about me buying a bottle and taking home (answer was no) and recommending me the next place unheard of during my beer research; Luppolo Station.

Beer place at a the train station?
Interiors atleast say so at Luppolo Station.

Luppolo Station induces images from that train station from Harry Potter books. Only difference is that they had good beer here. The atmosphere is close to how I imagine a craft beer place should be. Well designed, comfy ambience, soft music, brewing conversations and amazing, amazing beer lineup. The kind of lineup that has the right mix of German, Belgian and Neo-styled brews that has practically taken over the whole world. 


Staying on the Luppolo theme, Luppolo 12 is located at the lesser busier side of the Roma Termini and is your best place for getting the most out of your money for the beers that they offer. There's a flat rate every Tuesdays, inviting a hoard of semi and very drunk customers in and around the location. Luppolo 12 also owns a bottle shop right next door, so do check that out. Ah right, you can't buy booze after 10, so do stack them up early.

Time to talk to people. Drunk People. Luppolo 12.

Brasserie 4:20 had a similar take to London's Hackney Wick where old abandoned factory spaces are now taken over by a bustling pub. A few of us who had turned up later than usual still had to find solace in empty spaces on the rooftop. Summers would have been great, not much in winters. The heaters helped.

Brasserie 4:20's loft styled pub didn't have that Japanese style claustrophobic interiors

What's abundandly clear to me that Italians see a great deal of money in craft beer. Take for instance, Open Baladin or even more so L'Osteria di Birra del Borgo. A amount of cash they have splashed onto the decorations, table settings and on the equipment is quite telling. I especially liked the wood-light action thing happening from the ceiling at Borgo. Little too much? perhaps. At that point, I was more concerned about what I wanted to try next anyways.

Or drunk. Or both.

L'Osteria di Birra del Borgo is high end.

All explorations have, in their own ways, limits. The only brewery that was located in Rome called Stavio had apparently shut down and is now a fine cocktail bar. Les Vignerons bottle shop was supposed to be THE place there to shop for bottles. However, after walking an hour to the location, I realized the information in google was opposite to what it should have been: closed. Bir & Fud was another miss. I did step in Brewdog's pub near the Colosseum. Nothing much to write there.

Les Vignerons closes on Mondays. 

I did get my supplies from Luppolo 12 Bottle Shop though.

Tattoo game strong

Italy was a pleasant surprise. I liked the fact that beers were 1/2 cheaper than what you pay here in Japan or London. There's also clear Belgian and German influences along with using domestic techniques by using wine-barrel aging and grapes in brewing.  In a way, I got to see what mature craft beer scene could look like in the future.

A future, which perhaps some day, will be closer to home. 


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