Italy is home to some of the finest beer in the world - the difficult bit is finding the bloody stuff. The idea of being able to stroll into any Italian cafe and drink a Toccalmatto Skizoid is way, way off, unfortunately. Of course everyone knows about the famous beer bars in Rome, which have been blogged to inifinity and beyond, but what about the rest of Italy? What is the availability of Birra Artiginiale there?
I start my quest in this small port town. Things are looking up when I find an "Ale Market"... have I struck gold straight away?
Alas, this was not a market for top-fermented beers. But surely when I stroll into a Birerria and see these fellas on the bar I can't go wrong?
Unfortunately these bottles are for decoration only, they don't actually stock Sierra Nevada and Trappist Rochfort. But what they do have is a small selection of the better known Belgian beers, from which I picked a Chimay...
So besotted am I with Rochefort and St Bernadus that I've been neglecting Chimay, so it was nice to be reminded what a corker this still is.
An Irish pub across the road didn't seem to promise much, usually the beer choice is terrible at these places.
To my surprise they had two varieties of the Belgian John Martin's on top, a blonde and a brune. The blonde reminded me of something like Delirium Tremens, dangerously easy to slip down. The brune though had an incredibly fruity flavour.
So prominent was the fruitiness, and so unlike a normal Belgian brune, that I half suspected that it wasn't how it was supposed to taste, but it didn't matter, it was the best tasting beer I've had in an Irish pub for yonks.
So no luck on the Italian beer front, but a very decent selection for a small town.