Saturday, October 19, 2013

Twickenham Beerfest 2013

As is becoming something of a tradition, we attended the Twickenham Beer Festival on the Friday night this year, and tasted a few old favourites and a few unusual new ales. As usual, this small festival is not terribly well provisioned: there was no shortage of beers, and the usual couple of dozen ciders and perries in a side bar, but apart from one CAMRA merchandise stall, that was about it. No bottled ale, disappointingly (I'm not sure why, when the fine is only up the road and sponsors the festival). The food was low-end canteen fare, and began to run out pretty early in the evening. The festival wasn't even that busy by Friday night standards (in former years there would be a line 45 minutes long outside York House by about 8 o'clock), which might have something to do with the fact that there was no signage of any kind visible from the road; but even so there was painfully inadequate seating available (I saw people with sticks and walking frames popping themselves against the bar to stay upright, while queues built up around them).

Not the finest venue and organization, then. What about the beers? First some good ones:

Friday, October 4, 2013

Birre di Roma

Italy is not a country renowned for real ale, being more the home of some rather fine (albeit not French) red wines, and that watery piss bottled and carbonated by the likes of Peroni, Moretti, et alia. Recently there has been a bit of a renaissance of craft brewing, however, with many specialist bars importing especially Belgian and American ales, and a growing number of local microbreweries putting an Italian spin on these beer styles. On a recent trip to Rome, I had the chance to try a few home-grown beer varieties, and was on the whole pleasantly surprised by the experience.

Bir & Fud (Trastevere)

The "Bit and Fud" pizzeria and bar (whose gimmick is to spell all their signs phonetically according to the Italian pronunciation), serve 17 craft ales on tap (15 of which were available on Tuesday night) plus a range of bottled beers, which I didn't get the chance to try. The pizzas are all made without chemicals and using some kind of naturally rising dough (I wasn't clear on the details, but it led to very uneven thickness but nice flavors). Service was friendly but very patchy: to be fair I guess they were busy, and this is Italy where brusqueness is a national sport. It was nice to see real ales on tap on the menu, although nothing I tasted was really spectacular.