A few days ago, some new friends and I ventured out to EUR (Esposizione Universale Roma), a neighborhood outside of central Rome built by Mussolini for what would’ve been the site for the World’s Fair of 1942 if he hadn’t gone all cray-cray into World War II. We were there for the Italia Beer Festival, a celebration of craft brewers in Italy.
The experience differed little from any quality beer festival in America, only that most people were speaking Italian, some of the labels were harder to read, and the food included pasta all’amatriciana and supplì. Even in Italy you’ll find those fat, bearded fellows who film everything religiously. The brewmasters were all incredibly friendly, the crowd wasn’t too full, and the day was the perfect mix of sunny and cool for lounging outside.
The best beers I’ve tried from the Italia Beer Festival:
OpperBacco – 10 e lode
Inspired from dark Trappist beers, this 10% number utilizes six different kinds of malts and gives off a barleywine-like sweetness. OpperBacco had two varieties of this brew, one a rarer rendition called the Barricata – 10 e lode utilizing a process that I couldn’t understand (we had some language issues; my Italian isn’t advanced enough to get scientific processes yet). They also had a beer inspired by both the Tripel and the IPA, entitled TriplIPA. But above all, these guys were really friendly and fun.
Birranova – Abboccata
A strong ale from a brewery in Puglia, Abboccata earned four stars from Guida Slow Food Birre d’Italia 2011 and high marks at Campionato Italiano Birre Arigianali 2008 and Concorso Birra dell’Anno 2008. (That translates to “good.”) Intense flavor, a nice aroma of malts and its clean aftertaste make it unique from the other beers at the festival.
Karma – Anniversario
Unfortunately, I don’t remember the details about this beer except that it’s flavorful and good (so good that I wrote it down, as their brochure doesn’t list it).
Retorto – Krakatoa
This was the last beer I tried, an IPA with a nice kick that some of the others at the festival didn’t have. After all, it’s named after a wicked volcano. It had the great hops flavor that would make any Californian beer drinker smile.
Birradmare – La Zia Ale
This ale is a combination of efforts from several breweries in Lazio, and it wins the “most unique brew” award at the festival (at least as far as I’m concerned) for its use of carciofi e rosmarino (artichokes and rosemary). While there were hints of artichoke in the fragrance, it was the rosemary that really came through. It was fairly light, though it had a nice peppery kick in the end.
After the festival, we went to a cool lounge in Monti called Casa Clementina. The cavernous bar includes an artsy accessory shop and an NES with Super Mario Bros. in the back.