Rome: Notte Quattro

De Molen AmerikaansI wasn’t sure about going out this evening, I was really tired from a long day of working in the office and then back at the company flat. Time had sort of run away and it was nine thirty before we realised what had happened, I was starving. I didn’t fancy walking anywhere, but at the same time I knew I should get off my arse and go somewhere, as I might not be back next week, so it could be my last chance so sample Italian craft beer on draft.

While in the Gradi Plato beer shop, I was recommend to go to Brasserie 4:20, the chap said that if I liked Bir & Fud and Ma Che Siete Venuti a Fà, then I’d love 4:20. The problem was getting the motivation to go, I really couldn’t be arsed, I had to force myself down the stairs and into a taxi. I’m glad I got a taxi though, as 4:20 is quite a long way from the company flat, probably twice the distance that Bir & Fud is.

De Molen AmarilloI was keeping a look out from the side of the taxi, the instruction I had were to look for a large green 4:20 sign, if I’d blinked, I’d have missed it, the taxi driver did. The sign is on the frontage of the building, it doesn’t stick out, so you can’t see it coming, Via Portuense is a long road, so keep your eye peeled.

I didn’t bother looking at the menu, I wanted to be inside and drinking a beer, I just wasn’t prepared for what was on the other side of the door. It’s quite a modern interior, gleaming chrome taps and pumps, off set with some beery things here and there, but the walls are mainly dominated by large black boards telling what there is to eat and drink.

They have 12 hand pumps that were dispensing 11 real ales and 15 taps which were dispensing 14 beers from keg. If that isn’t enough beer, the wall behing the bar was covered in bottles from Mikkeller, De Molen, AleSmith, Port Brewing, The Lost Abbey, I could go on, but you get the picture. They also had four large free standing fridges full of lambic beers of various ages, some of which look seriously old.

De Molen RasputinThere was almost too much choice, so I asked for an Italian craft beer, only to be told thet they didn’t sell Italian beer (this isn’t quite true, they have some in bottles, but none on pump or tap). I couldn’t pass up the chance to try some De Molen from cask, so I plumped for an Amerikaans, which was very drinkable but the body didn’t quite live up to the nose.

It turns out that Brasserie 4:20 doubles as a fish restaurant, which is a bit of an issue if you’re a vegetarian (if you eat fish you’re not a vegetarian). So I asked if they could do something for me, they got the chef out for a chat and he produced this wonderful fettuccine dish with asparagus, tomato, garlic and some other stuff, it was perfect. It’s wonderful when places go out of their way to ensure you have something amazing to eat.

I decided to have a couple more De Molen beers before heading back to the flat. Amarillo is just as awesome on draft as it is in the bottle. Rasputin was totally different to the bottle I had last year, it was just this huge soft malt bomb, not what I was expecting. I had an amazing evening and would have stayed for a few more given half the chance, but I needed to get back.

Grassroots Winter IPAI decided to walk back to the flat along the Tiber, once I got to the Trastevere area I decided I had room for a small one and popped into Ma Che Siete Venuti a Fà. It was really busy and I could hardly get to the bar, not that made any difference as the staff appeared to be uninterested this evening and took ages serving anyone. So I necked a Grassroots Winter IPA and headed straight back to the flat.

Roma: Notte Tre

Degustazione @ Bir & Fud, RomaI enjoyed last night so much, I decided to repeat the experience, but tonight I took four of my work colleagues along. It’s been a long day, we started at 07:30 and finally packed up at 19:00, so I was really in need of some good beer and food. Hornbeer Black Magic WomanWe headed straight or Bir & Fud where I’d managed to get an Italian colleague to make a reservation, I’m glad we did as they were packed to the rafters when we left, so we’d never have got a table.

I could only entice one of my colleagues to cross the road and pop into Ma Che Siete Venuti a Fà for a couple more. I had a really nice dark beer, Black Magic Woman from Hornbeer, which I followed up with a Cantillon Cantillon Lou Pepe Kriek 2007Lou Pepe Kriek 2007. I should probably have had then the other way round, but never mind.

I’d like to go back tomorrow, but I need to find some bubble wrap and a few more bottles to take home with me. It looks like I might be back next week, so there is the potential for taking even more beer back home, we’ll have ot wait and see.

Roma: Notte Due

Ducato Bia IPAI’ll start this post by saying that I’ve had a few, so excuse me for all the mistakes I make… Last week during The Cambridge Blue Festival of Winter Ale, I bumped into @jesus_john, he told me that I really need to visit a certain pub while I was over here. Ma Che Siete Venuti a Fà is rated very highly on RateBeer, so I knew I wanted to go, getting a personal recommendation sealed the deal.

They don’t do food, so I headed for Bir & Fud, which is right across the street and only serves beer, it sounded like my kind of restaurant. It wasn’t too busy when I got there, but they were turning people away in droves later on, so if your in a big group, it might be worth booking a table before you go.

Del Borgo Re AleI had a patate e mozzarella pizza with a Ducato Bia IPA. The pizza was great, the IPA was so palette wreckingly bitter it was fantastic, although probably not the best starter beer to start with. Next up was a Del Borgo Re Ale, which looked like it was served via a hand pump. It was really nice, but my palette was wrecked, so I probably didn’t get it’s true taste.

I decided it was time to get to the main event and headed to Ma Che Siete Venuti a Fà, which is literally across the road. They have an impressive selection of taps and pumps and I wanted to remortgage the house after looking in the fridge. It was the two empty bottles of Tactical Nuclear Penguin and Sink the Bismark! that nearly made me cry though…

Lambrate UrtigaI started off with a Lambrate Urtiga, it was night and mouthwatering fresh, mainly due to the massive lemon after taste, an interesting beer. It was while drinking this and watching Inter score against Chelsea that I noticed the beer list, which had BrewDog Chaos Theory listed. The chap behind that bar was really apologetic as it was all finished, he then said that they had BrewDog Hardcore IPA on instead, I nearly fell of my seat.

I might have been a tad dehydrated by this point as the Hardcore was quite malty, but it had a nice heavy bitterness that was was over quite quickly, but was followed through but a more subtle bitterness in the after taste. One to try in copious quantities when I get home.

BrewDog Hardcore IPAI then got talking to Manuele while I tried to pay the bill. To cut a long story short, he’s an absolute gent and when he found out that I homebrew, he dragged me back to Bir & Fud and got two pints on the house, one for him and one for me. I couldn’t believe it, I’d only been talking to him for a few minutes, the generosity was staggering.

My final pint of the evening was Bi-Du Confine a bitter, coffee, chocolate roasted imperial porter that was fantastic. Thank you so much Manuele, I’m going to have a hard time not going back tomorrow and Thursday now… While our pints were being poured, Manuele introduced me to John, who runs the Johnny’s Off License stores. Bi-Du ConfineI really, really, really have to go to one, the Italian beer he was describing sounds awesome, Italian Lambic anyone…?

It’s quite simple, my work colleagues have a choice, they either come to Bir & Fud and Ma Che Siete Venuti a Fà tomorrow and Thursday, or I go on my own. If you are in Rome, you should make these two places your priority, I know I have.

Roma: Notte Uno

Birra MorettiIt’s my first night in has been a bit of a mixed bag. I found a really good beer shop via RateBeer, their selection was quite mouth watering. I bought a few to drink during the week, I’ll have to go back and pick up some to take home with me.

After getting some beer I went for dinner with my work colleagues. The restaurant only had Birra Moretti, which is utterly vile piss. I’m going to strike out on my own tomorrow and find some decent beer to drink…

Cantillon c’est Bon!

Cantillon Gueuze...I’ve decided that I need to find the perfect beer to go with chips and mayonnaise. Last time out it was Mikkeller It’s Alive! and I was bemoaning the fact that I really wanted a Cantillon Gauze. For lunch today, I managed somehow to arrange just that combination, chips and mayonnaise with Cantillon Gueuze 100% Lambic Bio.

I would live to say they are a match made in haven, but they’re not. The Cantillon is too sour and kept swamping the chips and mayo. This could just be the fact that it’s been years since my last lambic, so the sourness was really noticeable. I’d try it again, but I think I’d rather try an Orval, or another It’s Alive! first.

The Cambridge Blue Festival of Winter Ales

Moonshine Pickled MoonAs I mentioned yesterday, I spent last night at The Cambridge Blue Festival of Winter Ales and had a great time, fantastic company and some awesome beer. I had a hit list of eight beers that I wanted to try, one of them wasn’t there, so I managed the other seven, which is quite good going for me.

Moonshine 800 Years of Innovation (Gruit)I decided to start off at the lower end of the ABV scale with a couple of beers from the local Cambridge Moonshine brewery. First up was Pickled Moon, a 3.5% apple beer that was served out of a wooden cask. It tasted like cider and was lacking any sort of wooden buttery lactic notes. Next up was 800 Years of Innovation, a 3.5% gruit with no hops but five different herbs and you could certainty smell them. It was okay, but not really my cup of tea, I’d rather have some hops.

Thornbridge JaipurI really wanted to try the Adnams Beglian Wit, but it wasn’t there, so I moved onto Thornbridge Jaipur, a 5.9% proper IPA. This is a beer I’ve read a lot about on the internet and on twitter, it’s even moved people to come up with new words. I’ve tried it from a 330ml bottle before and was distinctly underwhelmed, so I had high hopes. From the first sip I could see why people have been raving about it, it was really nice, lots of body and lovely and bitter with some blousey hops.

Thornbridge SeaforthThornbridge Seaforth was next up, again it’s a 5.9% proper IPA and is supposed to be a version of Jaipur that only uses British (English?) ingredients. To be honest, this was my beer of the night, it totally blew me away. The balance was fantastic and it was just so, so drinkable, I’d recommend this to anyone it’s just sublime.

Thornbridge RavenThere was one more Thornbridge beer to try, Raven, a 6.6% black IPA, yes I know that is an oxymoron, but it’s easier to set expectations about what it will be like by calling it that. It was really nice, sort of like a BrewDog Black Dog with a bit more oomph. Of the three, Seaforth was the stand out, utterly superb, Raven would be next followed by Jaipur. I’d happily drink all three again, although I would probably just find myself drinking Seaforth if given the choice.

Moonshine Transforming TomorrowAs I was relying on the goodwill of some friends for a lift home and time was running out, I decided to get to grips with a couple of the stronger beers. I headed straight for Moonshine Transforming Tomorrow, a 8.6% stout served fro ma wooden cask. Unlike his apple effort, you can really taste the wood with this one, a distinct buttery lacticness that coats the top of your mouth during the after taste. I popped into The Bacchanalia at lunch today and was chatting to Ed, he thinks that the cask this beer was in is has infected wood and that there is a distinct taste noticeable. I’ve never had the beer before, so I can’t comment either way, it was slightly different to what I was expecting though.

Adnams Tally HoTo finish the evening I plumped for an Adnams Tally Ho that had been aged for 16 months in the pub cellar. It poured very still with little conditioning and was a malty, fruity delight to drink. I enjoyed it so much I forgot to take a photo, hence why there is a picture of a bottle in the recently drunk gallery.

It was a great evening, great company, some nice beers and some great beers. If you are around Cambridge either tonight or tomorrow, then you could do a lot worse than pop in for a pint or two.

  • Moonshine
  • 800 Years of Innovation (Gruit), 3.5% (1/2 pint)
  • RateBeer Moonshine
  • Transforming Tomorrow, 8.6% (1/2 pint)

Off To The Pub

I’m off to The Cambridge Blue this evening as they have a winter beer festival on. I wasn’t planning on going, but I’m meeting a couple of friends and I have some Adnams beer (Tally Ho and William Godell) for one of them, so it’s the idea opportunity to hand them over.

The beer list for the festival looks quite good, I have my eye on two Adnams beers, three Cambridge Moonshine beers and three Thornbridge beers. Hopefully they’ll all be on and in good nick.

Research

I was intending on doing a brew over the Christmas holidays, but never quite found the time. I’m hoping to finally get round to it this coming weekend and it will be my last extract brew before I go full mash.

I visited The Happy Brewer in Bedford just after Christmas and bought a new boiler, mash tun and a few other bits and bobs. Last week during half term I popped back to pick up a wort chiller, so I now have everything I need.

You might be wondering why I’m doing an extract brew when I have the ability to do full mash. The simple reason is that I bought too much malt extract for my last brew and I wanted to use it up. The more complicated answer is that I ballsed up the last brew and I want to have another go. Mainly to make sure I get the process right before I move to full mash and to try the new boiler and hop strainer to make sure they work.

Theakston Old PeculierThis brew will be the Theakston Old Peculier clone from Wheeler’s book, I fancied doing another dark beer with lots of adjuncts (again to make sure I get the process right). So last night I had a couple of bottles, purely in the name of research. It’s not the Old Peculier I remember from back in the day before the recipe was mucked around with, but it’s a nice beer all the same.

After this brew, I’m torn between doing another clone or designing my own 5% ABV pale ale. I’m not sure yet, so I’ll get this brew out of the way and then decide.

Great Expectations

Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA Dogfish Head beers finally hit the UK shops this week and I have to say that I’ve really been looking forward to trying them. I’ve read a lot about them on the internet and I have Sam Calagione’s home brewing book, so I was expecting them to be amongst the best beers I’d be having this year.

Expectation is a dangerous thing, Mark Dredge touches on this in one of his Hop Press articles and I have to say that I probably built these beers up too much in my own mind. Dogfish Head 90 Minute Imperial IPAI was expecting something genre changing, something that was going to quite literally blow me away.

I cracked open a bottle of the 60 Minute IPA and was totally underwhelmed. Next up was the 90 Minute Imperial IPA, which was nice, but not exactly genre changing. Since it’s taken ages for these to get imported into the UK, I’ve tried the beers that competitors have produced and really liked them. If I’d tried the Dogfish Head first, them maybe they would have been genre changing.

Dogfish Head Indian Brown AleI suppose the real problem is of how to manage my expectations of what a beer is going to be like, if not I’ll always end up disappointed, as it will never be as good as it is in my mind. This evening I cracked open a Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale and was blown away, it was amazing. I think the reason for this was I knew nothing about the beer, so I drank it with an open mind.

I have another bottle of both the 60 and 90 Minute IPAs, I will have to try and drink them with an open mind.

It’s Alive!

I’m not particularly big on beer and food pairings to be honest, I doubt I’ll be writing many more. I have read with interest other peoples attempts, both successful and not quite so successful, to pair beer and food and always wished I had the taste buds to manage it myself. Mikkeller It's Alive! After spending a few hours driving to and from a pub lunch, all I wanted for dinner was a huge plate of chips, a healthy dollop of mayonnaise and a Cantillon Gauze.

We stopped off at a supermarket on the way home for some supplies, one of which was a bag of oven chips. I’d rather deep fry my own, but my wife wont have it for some reason, so I have to make do with either packet oven baked, or home made oven roasted. So I had some chips and I had some mayonnaise, the only thing I didn’t have was any Cantillon, but then I remembered that I had a big bottle of Mikkeller It’s Alive!, evidently it’s a tribute to Orval, so I thought I’d give that try.

I love chips and mayonnaise, it’s a match made in haven and from now on, I want a beer like Mikkeller‘s It’s Alive! when I eat them. It was awesome, It’s Alive! is quite similar to Orval, however, I found it to be a bit smoother, but just as palette cleansing. I was amazed at how well the chips, mayonnaise and beer worked together in perfect harmony, there might be something to this beer and food pairing for my taste buds after all.