When in Rome

... drink beer. Our Beer Sherpa, Patrick Gengler, discovers  beer Elysium in the Italian capital

Rome, city of monolithic relics of a world long past is a world that, when considered, is unfathomable. The fact that the human race was so advanced so many years ago is mind boggling. So, when you think of Rome, you don’t immediately think ‘good craft beer’ but perhaps you should.

Among the ancient jumble of buildings are a couple of first-rate bars that were shown to me by a friend working at the American Embassy. However, if you don’t know where you are going, I’d pretty much bet you wouldn’t find any of them; I certainly wouldn’t. It’s always good to have an inside man or woman – she loves craft beer as much as me and can navigate the city’s labyrinthine streets.

Seemingly non-descript buildings down side streets are hiding beery wonder that could

When in Rome

... drink beer. Our Beer Sherpa, Patrick Gengler, discovers  beer Elysium in the Italian capital

Rome, city of monolithic relics of a world long past is a world that, when considered, is unfathomable. The fact that the human race was so advanced so many years ago is mind boggling. So, when you think of Rome, you don’t immediately think ‘good craft beer’ but perhaps you should.

Among the ancient jumble of buildings are a couple of first-rate bars that were shown to me by a friend working at the American Embassy. However, if you don’t know where you are going, I’d pretty much bet you wouldn’t find any of them; I certainly wouldn’t. It’s always good to have an inside man or woman – she loves craft beer as much as me and can navigate the city’s labyrinthine streets.

Seemingly non-descript buildings down side streets are hiding beery wonder that could easily put most UK cities to shame. The first place we stopped by looked small on the outside but the inside was similarly monolithic to the city’s relics of old; a five-metre high, backlit bottle display of their beer: Baladin. The brew that I decided to imbibe was a rum barrel aged 14% barleywine from 2010. Consider the craft beer box ticked. They had more than just their own stuff on offer of course, one of which was Cantillion Kriek… on draft! As an added bonus, the food there was really good. Rated as some of the best burgers in town and homemade chips (crisps) with homemade ketchup.

The next place that we went to was one of the best city craft beer bars I have ever been to for a few reasons.

1. The beer list was amazing and not just the stuff on draft, the fridge was full of beer nerdgasms that are hard to get ahold of in the city they are brewed in much less 7,000 miles away.

2. This place was absolutely tiny, one toilet for both sexes, three barstools inside plus a small back room, and the actual bar took up more space than any other furniture. It was so small in fact that people would order their beer, pay for it, then stand in the street while they chat about life, love, and love of beer.

3. The atmosphere transported you out of the most populated city in Italy and into a small tight knit community, the closest thing that I can equate it to is a backyard party in a small community in the US Midwest. Not only did everyone seem to know each other, there was a worldwide coming of age ritual where a big brother played keep away with his little sister and a rather boisterous friend. One of the locals who had just finished his beer witnessed this rather cruel game and offered each of the kids take shots as though he were a goalie so that the little girl had a chance to play, but they had to stop every now and then to let the cars and scooters go by. Ma Che Siete Venuti A Fà, top rated beer bar and portal to small town charm.

One thing these two places had in common was a certain feeling that you got walking into them. They felt a bit like places your parents would tell you not to go, not because they were seedy or dirty but there was just something about them: the people, the beer, the underground feeling that you got from the small/hidden nature of the bars. It all seemed a bit like you were doing something that you weren’t supposed to; you knocked on the door of the speakeasy and that password you got from your friend worked, which made it that much better.