Last Updated : 02/04/10
ilan has a thriving beer culture with several brewpubs, many pubs including one of Europe's top scooping bars, some excellent beer shops and Italy’s best-known beer writer, Lorenzo Dabove (Kuaska), living there. The one problem is the opening hours of the brewpubs and bars which are generally a few hours in the afternoon then from early evening until late; not much use if you only have daytime hours to scoop! Saying that, the quality of the various shops and bars more than make up for their limited hours and Milan must be one of Europe's top beer destinations right now.
The tram directions include the destination you need to be going in (e.g. tram 33 (Sire Raul) means tram 33 heading for Sire Raul) although this doesn't excuse you from getting your own map and working out which routes go where! Be warned that there's considerable disruption on the ATM tramway at present due to metro work which has closed the northern loop of the "ring" (trams 29/30) resulting in short workings and amended tram routes, in particular trams 29/30, 33 and 7. Get a map from the ATM office in the metro station at Stazione Centrale or Duomo, but it doesn't have stops on it so I'd get a decent street map too...
One thing to remember when using the trams is that ATM seemingly operate a "Yin-Yang" philosophy; yes, it's a huge system, but the stops are rarely marked with a name... yes, some of the trams are superbly heritage, but none have any heating... yes, you can get to all the bars and brewpubs by tram, but the services are very unreliable with frequent shambles occurring... Also note that many stops have two names depending on which roads the tram's route intersects as this is how stop names are written (e.g. Imbriani/Scalvini is where the road the tram is on, Imbriani, meets Scalvini but on the way south the same stop is called Imbriani/Ugoni owing to the roads Imbriani crosses being different on each side). It's all very confusing, even more so as most stops don't have a sign and even if you're lucky enough to get announcements they're rarely audible, and it's no use counting stops as the trams miss out stops where there are no passengers to embark or disembark (you need to press the stop button to make the trams stop). Enjoy, it's certainly a challenge...
Despite this, however, ATM run a decent system and the 48-hour tickets are particularly good value at €5.50 (24-hour ones are €3), stamp them in the machine at the front of the trams the first time you board a vehicle (the one with a top hole for the ticket, some machines (those at the back) are for the new cards and don't work with paper tickets). The easiest way to buy tickets is from machines or ticket windows in Metro stations although they are available from tabacchi kiosks (or anywhere displaying the ATM logo).
Have a look at my updated and rather good (if I say so myself) Google map of Milan... Updated beer gen is here...
The Italian beer scene is one of the most innovative and interesting in Europe – if not the world – at present so, when we decided on our January trip, Milan was an obvious choice for both it's beer and tram attractions. Northern Italy is currently the country’s hub of micro brewing and as we'd only visited Turin and Milan briefly a couple of years previously, having our trip thwarted by the Pope (read all about it here!), we felt that another visit to this fertile beer region was long overdue.
Milan's airports are a long way out of town – well, the ones we can afford to fly to are – but this annoyance was mitigated by us being able to use both easyJet and Ryanair from Bristol and resulted in us flying out to Bergamo with Riotscare on Friday morning and back with easyJet from Malpensa on Monday evening for the grand total of £32.72 each all-in; bargain! After the shambles with hotels during our last Milan visit I hurriedly booked us into a decent-sounding place close to the station and tram routes and so that was it, our return to Milan was sorted… that had all seemed far too easy!
Friday 16th January 2009.
Bizzarro parking again.
I'd booked us at the same parking place as on our previous trip from Bristol (once again, no names…), despite it being staffed by scarily retarded locals from a very shallow gene pool, owing to it's cheapness compared to the ludicrously expensive airport carpark which made even Birmingham’s rip-off NCP seem cheap. With out flight at 06:25 we arrived in the wee small hours and were very relieved to see that, instead of the basin-headed locals, the place was staffed by efficient Poles who, in an amusing twist of national irony, could speak English better than the locals we'd encountered on our last visit and could even string a coherent sentence together! 100% improvement...
We were dropped off at the airport with way too much time to spare before the flight and so we wandered around the newly-revamped terminal – revamped for the worse, as usual, with extra garish tat everywhere – although we didn't expect to see Butcombe bitter and gold on cask in the airport bar; how bizarre is that, we thought, searching unsuccessfully for the Butcombe stout pump! It was way too early for ale though so we trekked downstairs to departures where we noticed the strange habit of putting cars in the lounge had spread here too; now I thought that departure lounges were a place to wait for your plane so it makes sense that all available space should be taken up by seating and refreshment areas and not by irrelevant cars “you can win it, buy your £20 ticket now!” which just get in the way and piss me off even more than I already am by being in an airport.
We boarded early and after a flight with all-too rare superb visibility over the whole of Europe, including the Alps cloaked in a thick veil of snow looking spectacular in the early morning sun, we landed at Bergamo half an hour early with the usual fanfare over the PA read by what I'm sure is one of the cast of Father Ted. I'd pre-booked the bus into Milan and so, after making sure it was the correct one as there were a lot of buses waiting around and we didn't want to end up somewhere non-beery, on we got for the mind and arse-numbing hour-long trip into town.
To be honest the journey wasn't too bad, mainly on account of it being a proper coach not a crappy old bus, and we alighted at Milan's massively ornate (and still under renovation!) central station just under an hour later with the time still only 11:00. After acquiring our 48-hour transport tickets – still ludicrously cheap at €5.50 – we stopped off at a post office to send a parcel down to Manuele at the Football Pub in Rome (well, we figured it would be cheaper to send it from Milan then Worcester!) before beginning our tram scooping frenzy on the city's extensive tram system. As we wandered away from the station we pondered just why anyone would want to buy a mechanised toy monkey on a bike, dozens of which were furiously pedalling around the station concourse causing a trip hazard, which presumably was the major marketing ploy of the shady-looking characters selling them!
I shan't go into detail regarding the trams of Milan as, if you want to know, just email me and I'll send you all the gen! Let's suffice it to say that the city runs the oldest trams in regular service in Europe, if not the world, with several hundred 1930's Ventotto cars still running every day amongst a wide variety of other vehicles, although as we soon discovered they didn't have heating fitted and, with the temperature outside on the chilly side and snow from the previous week's huge snowfall still piled up on the pavements, riding them was a freezing experience...
We'd planned to visit the Enoteca Decanter bottle shop to acquire some room beers but, predictably, the tram we were on suddenly terminated at some random un-named stop before trundling back to it’s depot leaving us stranded and unable to get to the shop before it closed for the afternoon! This wasn't a massive problem as we had the city's best beer shop a short walk from our hotel plus we'd factored in enough time to be able to try again with our current target later on, so we broke off from the freezing trams and headed for our hotel to check in and hug the radiators for a while.
Temporary warmth, permanent cold.
The hotel I'd chosen couldn't really have been in a better position as far as our needs were concerned with trams running right outside the window (plus the main ring line passed 20 metres away) with a stop literally outside the front door, the city's best beer shop five minutes down the road and plenty of food options in close proximity and, even better, the room was roasty-toasty! After thawing ourselves out for a while we braved the cold back on the city's extraordinarily confusing tram system; most cities give a stop a name but Milan's stops usually have 2 names depending on the roads crossing nearest to the platform which may be different on each side! Add to this the general lack of stop names and no indicators inside vehicles to hint at where you are it's a black art to figure out how to ride the system without ending up at the wrong stop. (See my rant at the top of the page for more gen!).
After a few hours of riding in eighty years old mobile fridges we alighted in the Northwest of the city and made our way to the Enoteca Decanter bottle shop which sounded as if it might provide us with a decent haul of winners for our three evenings in Milan. On the way we passed the Baüscia brewery, a small micro whose output I really wanted to try, but any hopes of raking in scores of ticks in the brewery were soon dashed when we found the shutters firmly locked and no sign of life. Undaunted, we carried on to the Birreria Decanter shop and found a proverbial Aladdin's cave awaiting us.
The shop was tiny and almost filled by substantial fridges which contained a bewildering variety of bottles from breweries old and new; as I rummaged through the beers I realised that we could easily buy enough bottles here to last us our entire time in the city! The main problem with Italian bottled beers is, unfortunately for the scooper, the size of the bottles with many being 75cl in size which is great if the beer is a good 'un but a burden if it's crap, then there's the issue of price: Italy isn't cheap at the best of times (apart from 48-hour tram tickets!) but craft beer seems to be a license to print money and most of the bottles I was looking at were EUR8 and above...
You only live once, as the proverb goes, so ignoring prices I selected eight bottles most of which were – presumably – from new micros which I'd not heard of although I was gutted that there were no Baüscia beers on sale! We paid up and prepared to trudge back to the tramstop but Sue suggested that, first, we should have a quick look at a nearby bar on our list as we probably wouldn't be back in that area; I'm really glad she insisted we go, despite my pleading that I couldn't be arsed, as we'd not have discovered the best bar in town nor met Paolo Polli had we not gone to Enoteca Birreria!
A meeting with Paolo Polli.
The bar was just around the corner and, to my delight, amongst the bottles displayed in the window was Baüscia Adi; result! Inside we found a cosy little bar which looked as if it were aimed at the dining crowd who might be interested in craft beer and, although obviously not a scooper's pub, it was the kind of place we could definitely stop off at for a few beers in the evening! As we examined the beers lurking in the fridge a man appeared from the back of the bar and asked us, in Italian, what we'd like. Now Italian isn't one of the languages I know a lot of but, between us in Italian and English, we managed to understand each other enough for him to realise that we were English beer lovers after some scoops; he seemed to understand this concept and allowed us to rummage through the fridge for winners!
We soon realised that there were only a few scoops and, the few there were, we'd just bought from the beer shop! After Paolo had graciously found us a bottle of Baüscia Adi to take away we chatted about the local beer scene and Paolo informed us that he had just opened a new bar called BQ, Birra artigianale di Qualità, just up the road which served 20 beers on tap! This bar hadn't shown up on any of my internet searches and it was one of those moments that makes scooping exciting; I'd not imagined we'd score that many beers in bars during our stay but this discovery completely changed things and, suddenly, we were on-track to scoop a decent amount of ticks if BQ was as good as it sounded!
Clutching our bottle and thanking Paolo profusely, promising that we'd visit BQ at some point during the next two evenings, we returned to the tramstop feeling like the trip had suddenly gotten a whole lot better with this unforeseen discovery. Half an hour later we were at the A Tutta Birra beer shop which had dazzled us on our previous visit to the city and, I’m happy to say, this visit was even better and I drooled over the massive winners packed into every available inch of the shop; even discounting the Italian range, which had grown a lot since we'd visited last, there were simply hundreds of German and Belgian beers which we'd either willingly sup, some of which were scoops, but it was the sheer quality of the beers sold which was so impressive with hardly a crap bottle amongst the range! I'm not sure a lot of other beer shops can boast such a superb choice of beer and the nearest I can think of would be the excellent Johnny's in Rome.
The Brazilian barbecue brewpub.
Ten minutes later we were back in our hotel room and admiring the vast haul of bottles we'd acquired during the afternoon, a round dozen, and trying not to think about the hundred Euros we'd just invested in them! We'd also bought two glasses, tall Weissbier-style ones, as half the bottles were 75cl in size and the piddly little things in our room just wouldn't have been able to cope with the job in hand, especially as most of the bottles were unfiltered.
As was normal on our first day away, especially as we'd done a particularly early flight, we were getting a touch sleepy and so back out we went for some fortifying espressos before our evening visit to a bizarre-sounding place, the Zythum brewpub. From what I'd read this was a Brazilian-themed restaurant which, for some reason, had a brewplant installed although no-one had a good word to say about the beers, but that wasn't going to stop me from scooping them in!
According to the gen I had the place opened at the unsociable hour of 20:00 which is even more unsociable that most Italian bars' opening hours as, it must be said, despite some great beers being made in the country almost all the pubs have piss-poor opening times with few being open in the afternoon leaving just the evenings available for scooping. We took a tram down to the nearest stop and slithered along the pavement towards the bar; it was going to be a freezing night and was already slippery underfoot, but the thick fog which rapidly descended wasn't something we'd expected in Milan... we were soon shivering outside the door at 19:45 hoping, against our better judgement, that the wait was going to be worth it...
We were eventually let in at five to eight whereupon we bagged a small table in what looked like the bar area. The brewkit was spectacularly large and I wondered exactly why they needed one so big for a place like this which, surely, would sell more wine than beer? After trying to attract someone's attention for a good ten minutes I decided that I’d had enough of being polite – well, it’s not really me – and so stormed over to the bar to see what beers were on tap. Three clips were visible: steam (chiara), cream (ambrata) and strong, and after a few minutes of trying to make myself understood that we only wanted a glass of each beer to the confused Brazilian barmen (who couldn't understand why we wanted beer and no food), we received three glasses of scoops which was more than I thought we'd manage a few minutes earlier!
Steam was first and set the tone for the rest with a sweet toffee-malt taste, no balancing bitterness or hop and did an amazing job of tasting like clotted cream fudge... although that's not really a taste beer should aspire to in my opinion! Cream was darker in colour with more of a “boiled sweets” character, hints of acetic acid and a chewy malt finish although I’m sure it wasn't supposed to taste like that! Strong ale came last and this was by far the best of the trio with a pale colour, a wheaty and dry body with good balance and more wheat in the finish, but I'm not convinced that it reached the 7.5% claimed on the clip!
Thinking we'd bought a tasting tray I attempted to pay which caused yet more confusion amongst the waiters who were under the impression they’d given me small tasters so I could choose which I wanted a “proper” glass of and, eventually, I decided that the easiest cause of action would be to buy a glass of the strong ale as they were expecting us to buy a beer having consumed the free tasting... this was reminiscent of Magister in Madrid where exactly the same thing had happened to us a few years back! The half of strong was given no respect whereupon we departed before we were forced into the repulsive-smelling restaurant next door and scampered off for the next tram back into the centre.
A few nightcaps.
I'd expected that we would be akin to the walking dead by the time we'd finished at Zythum but we had a surprising amount of energy remaining - probably as we'd only been in there half an hour – so on the way back around the “ring” tramline we stopped off to try and locate Hop, a bar which promised a dozen Italian micro-beers and sounded like a decent place for a few beers before bedtime. I hadn't been sure where it was from my research and so we spent ten minutes wandering around the area before finding it (nowhere near where I’d thought it would be, to be honest) just as we were about to give up!
A small one-roomer, the bar had a lot of atmosphere and I liked it immediately although we had to make do with a shelf as all tables were full of happily munching locals. As promised there were lots of beers on sale although I was slightly frustrated to see that six were from Lambrate, a brewpub we'd done on our previous visit, but I soon cheered up when I clocked that there were three Lambrate scoops on tap plus another couple from Bi-du! We began with Lambrate Beccamort which resembled – bizarrely – a mild with it's toasty grain, roast coffee and dry, very suppable barley finish, then moved onto Lambrate Ligera, their new American-style pale ale. This was a delight to drink and possessed a luscious malty flavour overlain by leafy, citrussy and fresh hop taste with a gentle bitterness arriving at the end and showing, with it's elegance and tasty balance, just why Lambrate are so well regarded by those in the know. Next came their winter beer, Brighella, an 8% whopper that somehow didn't taste it's strength with a fairly plain malt, sweetness and toffee flavour, amber colour, and thick grainy finish; ah well, they can't all be good, although this was far from a bad beer just not as delicious as the previous two!
Before our final beer I nipped into the bogs and therein found the only problem with Hop; the toilet was, in total contrast to the well-maintained charm of the main room, badly in need of some repairs and TLC although it wasn't the worst we'd find in Milan! We finished with Bi-du Artiganale, a reddy/amber very fruity brew which had plenty of treacly malt, even more berryish fruit, some dryness and a well-balanced and very tasty aftertaste which almost forced us to indulge in another!
By this stage, however, we were feeling the effects of being awake for 20+ hours and so paid up, vowing to return again if we had time, then it was the next tram around the ring to our hotel where we forced ourselves to drink two of the bottles we'd amassed as, predictably, we seemed to have overbought and were in serious danger – considering many were 75cl – of not being able to drink them all in the three nights we had in town!
Artebirrai Birra Mazarol was first and this was, after the excellent beers in Hop, somewhat of a letdown with a gentle maltiness, some vague marmite-esque hints and a dry, grainy finish; there was nothing actually wrong with it, but nothing really grabbed at me and said “I'm craft beer, love me… LOVE ME!!!”. We finished with Barley (of Sardinia) Toccadibo, sadly another plain, malty brew with straightforward maltiness and a suggestion of spiciness in the aftertaste although, again, nothing was screaming at me to be loved as, I believe, micro-brewed beer should do!
That was our first day done and, as I drifted off to sleep
(Sue says I was snoring like a pig 20 seconds after hitting the pillow) I
reasoned that we'd scooped 9 beers thus far, had another ten in bottle and –
most importantly – had gen on a bar which just might be the pub of the trip!
Saturday 17th January 2009.
After the obligatory lie-in we partook of the somewhat petite breakfast before heading out “on the bash” for some trams and trolleybuses. Being Saturday the service was reduced from the previous day yet we still managed to travel on a swathe of proper ventotto trams and did as much of the trolleybus route as we could before we got bored and headed back into town. Just in case you’re interested, which I doubt, and don’t know what a trolleybus is, it’s basically a bus which runs from electricity supplied from overhead wires. These are a very green and quiet form of transport although, mainly due to the expense of maintaining and/or building the overhead supply, they are becoming increasingly rare as private companies would rather pocket the cash and buy cheap diesel buses than spend it on overhead wires and suchlike.
We visited a great little bakery for bread and cakes (plus the obligatory espresso) and, suitably refreshed, it was back on the trams again until we decided to pop back to the hotel to warm up – it was still bloody freezing and the unheated trams weren’t helping – via Panfilo Castaldi, a promising road lined with bakeries and food options. We stocked up on cheese and bread at a deli before I was stopped dead in my tracks; there, right in front of us, was something I’ve never seen abroad and assumed only existed in the UK: a curry cafe! Now I know most people don’t go to Milan to eat curry but I’ve never been one to do what’s expected of me and so, after a quick board meeting, we agreed that a quick curry would both fill and warm us up; after all, what better to protect us from the cold as a curry?
Once inside the delicious aromas of spice wafted all around as we studied the curries available. To my amazement my ideal curry was on sale – lamb and egg – so one of those was ordered double-quick along with a couple of naan breads. I had no idea if the curry would be any good or if it were likely to ruin the rest of our trip but, at that spice-crazed moment, all I cared about was my “nargis” curry! So, I hear you ask, what was it like? Well, considering it was spooned out of a large tray onto a plate and then microwaved (although the naan were cooked fresh), it was delicious! Slightly oily, maybe, but all the “flavours of home” were there and so, ten minutes later, we were on our way with yellow fingers and warm insides; the Usman cafe had certainly come up trumps for us!
Four scoops, bread and pesto.
Leaving our supplies in the room we were soon back out again and set course for the city centre for a mooch around. There weren’t as many tourists as we’d feared and so, despite the gloomy weather and coldness, we explored the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and admired the ludicrously spiky Gothic Duomo before deciding that it was time for a beer; after all, wasn’t that what we were there for? A spin on tram 3 deposited us at Imbriani/Scalvini (I told you that the tramstop names were gibberish!) from where it was but a short walk to the first venue of the evening, the Fermento bar. This sold micro-brewed beers plus it’s own house beer, the origins of which were unclear, although I was reasonably certain they didn’t brew it on-site... which is what I wanted to find out!
We arrived just as the bolts were clunked back meaning we had a free choice of seats and, more importantly, access to the barman’s knowledge before the place became busy. Four beers were on tap and I soon discovered that all were from BABB including the house beer, Regina Nera, which the barman told me was brewed “by the bar’s owner at BABB”; that was my main question answered within a few minutes! We started with Rubina, a hazy amber brew with a strong malt taste accompanied by rum toffee and a subtle spicy dryness in the finish; not bad at all. Bockale was next but this wasn’t as interesting as the Rubina, despite it’s 7% strength, with a plain malty flavour and not a lot else going on apart from sweetish toffee-malt. Miele was, as the name suggests, a honey beer, which regrettably didn’t taste of honey at all but did possess much the same plain maltiness as the Bock with nothing added by the alleged addition of honey.
After helping ourselves to some of the free bread and pesto on the bar we finished with the house beer, Regina Nera, another 7% brew but this one packed some flavour! Deep red in colour, a delicious roast malt and liquorice aroma was obvious and carried through into the flavour with a honeyed maltiness, more liquorice and caramel then a dry, treacle-toffee and blackstrap molasses finish with a good balance of flavours; top stuff and easily the beer of the night thus far!
As we finished our beer the bar began to fill up with normals including the predictable rose-seller (who was told to FOAD as usual) and a crowd of older people who for some reason found the bar’s hatstand fascinating and insisted on parading it around the room for all to admire... well, it was okay as far as hatstands go, I suppose... When a group of bored-looking blokes with suspiciously Jazz-themed instruments arrived we decided that it was time to leave and so, grabbing one final handful of the fortifying bread and pesto, it was back into the night and off to the nearby Isola della Birra to see what today’s guest beers would be.
The Island of beer.
On our previous visit to the city a couple of years back – the one when the bloody pope had been in town and we’d been unable to get a hotel room anywhere – we hadn’t managed to find the Isolla della Birra but, aided by a better map, I was pretty convinced we’d get there this time. As things transpired we’d given up walking along the road about 200 metres short of it during our previous visit although I don’t know how we’d missed the bloody great illuminated sign!
No matter, we’d found it this time, so in we went. The bar was surprisingly modern inside and not really my kind of thing at all although they did have some interesting pumpclips behind the bar on the taunting pole of beers we’d missed! To be honest I didn’t think that much of the beer range, although that’s with my scooping head firmly in place and if I judged the bar on beer quality alone it wasn’t bad at all. We had an Italiano Tipopils, always a favourite and still zestily hoppy, plus a Lambrate Brighella (this would have been a scoop had we not been to Hop the previous evening) which was marginally better than the night before if still not Lambrate’s most interesting beer in my opinion. As I’ve already said, the decor wasn’t really my thing but the beer range was perfectly adequate and you could get lucky and scoop a couple in here on the right evening.
As we’d decided to visit Paolo’s BQ bar the subsequent evening it was time to head off back to our hotel to make a start on the worryingly large stash of bottles therein; we’d bought far too many as usual – I blame desperation – and although I’d have loved to have visited Lambrate again we had the familiar spectre of what seemed a million bottles looming over us waiting to be drunk and taunting me about my poor bottle-buying decision making. I consoled myself with the thought that we’d scooped three new Lambrate beers already and, anyhow, we had some theoretically excellent bottles back in the room!
Ensconced back in the our cosy room, first up was Baüscia Adi and I had a lot of hope for this one not least as I’d read good things about the brewery and Paolo Polli had said he liked hops! It didn’t disappoint and, despite being a lowly 4% pale ale, had plenty of character with a lemony, hoppy aroma, a decent malty body overlain by some bitterness and a good dollop of dry citrusy hop; good stuff and very drinkable indeed! Next up was another brewery I’d heard good things about, Almond 22, with their Irie wheat beer. The phrase “wheat beer” proved to be the beer’s Achilles heel and in spite of some tasty grainy character it remained a rather dull bready, wheaty brew with not a lot of interest although it didn’t taste like a German weiss, always a good thing in my book!
Maltius Faber Birra di Natale was next; this brewery is one of the many which has opened in Genoa since our visit many years back and, as we were planning a return trip, it would be good to get this standalone micro in the book! An amber ale, it was obviously Belgian in character with candy sugar and a yeasty spiciness in the flavour before a dryish, full-on Belgian malt finish; not bad at all! Maltovivo Norcia IPA hissed open next; we’d pinned our “hop hopes” on this one, branded an IPA, but in reality it was a pretty tame one with an amber colour, an obvious fresh, bitter hoppy and resinous character, balancing malt and a well-balanced malt, hop, bitterness and fruity finish which, the more we drank, the more it gutted us that the bottle wasn’t bigger than 75cl as it was very nice indeed!
Yet another new brewery next, Orso Verde’s back door bitter, although this brought us back down to earth after the previous hopfest; sweet and sour in nose and taste with obvious alcohol and acetone, harsh bitterness and no balance, this wasn’t pleasant to drink and reminded me of a strong UK bottled beer: and that’s not a compliment! Nubia (from the same brewery, the name means Green Bear by the way) was next on the premise that if it was as poor as their other beer then we’d rather get it out of the way now! Sadly it was, with a rather objectionable methanol edge and lots of harsh toasty black grain which, unfortunately, gave a nasty aftertaste and most of it went down the sink – the first of the night to do so which shows how bad it was!
We finished with Menareste Bockstaeledirk, a deep brown ale,
and this was much better; chocolate malt, no nasty acetone burn, hints of coffee
and yet more luscious 70% Cocoa chocolate in the smooth malty finish gave a
tasty and flavoursome brew with oodles of character. Despite this final beer
being a good’un, however, we both agreed that the bottle of the evening had been
the very first one we’d cracked open, Baüscia Adi, and apart from the unpleasant
Orso Verde beers we’d had a good range of styles and flavours and further proof,
if it were needed, that most Italian micro-brewers are well up on their game and
are making some interesting, tasty beers which are sadly almost unknown outside
their home country although I’m doing my best! Our evening’s TV viewing had been
poor to say the least, although one highlight had been “Donne Mature”, seemingly
a pensioner’s TV chat line!
Sunday 18th January 2009.
A day in the rain.
We awoke to the depressing and very English sound of rain smacking against the windows and, as we pressed our faces to the glass watching the trams swooshing and sparking past, I was glad we’d done most of our walking round the day before! After breakfast we decided that there was no point in wandering around in the drizzle and so, yet again, it was a morning of tram scooping for us… on the cold, unheated, damp trams!
We spent a good few hours touring the city on the freezing cold trams and this wasn’t helped by the rain and corresponding dampness which made the day seem even chillier than it actually was. The only excitement of the day came when we were admiring the “cathedral of traction” (the enthusiast’s name for Messina depot) and I was bollocked by a passing tram driver for standing inside the gates on the running lines whilst photting; “Well, put some bloody lights on inside and let us in then!” would have been the obvious reply but my Italian wasn’t up to that and so it was back onto the next tram into town.
We viewed some extremely heritage sanding vehicles whilst festering in the rain for a connecting tram before deciding that our mid-afternoon break was calling and so adjourned to a convenient café for cake and espresso; it’s pleasing to see that, even in expensive Milan, an espresso is still only 70¢ or so which is okay in my book and only really beaten – in both price and quality of coffee – by Lisbon! We succumbed to the lure of yet another warming plateful of curry in Usman’s where we were welcomed as regulars by the smiling owner who, no doubt, had his opinions of the English as curry-swilling slobs reinforced by our attendance twice in two days… although, in our defence, his curry was very good and the naan breads as fresh as I’ve had them anywhere, plus it provided some much-needed central heating for our bodies!
As we emerged from Usman’s we noticed that the rain had reluctantly stopped falling and so, after a quick visit to our room, we headed back out into the city for a brief wander around the centre before our proposed visit to BQ, the new “scooping” bar Paolo Polli had told us about on the Friday, which sounded like a right whopper to me; surely anywhere with 20 beers on tap must have some winners and/or decent brews?
Journey into paradise.
BQ opened at 19:00 so we had a couple of hours to spare which we filled with a few more tram scoops and further exploration of the historic centre. As we waited for tram 19 which would take us all the way out to BQ a bizarre tram came towards us; it was a Ventotto, undoubtedly, but this one was covered from roof to axlebox with tiny shimmering white lights which gave the bizarre sensation of looking at a ghost tram! As it swooshed past we saw that it was basically a moving advertisement with no passengers aboard but, even given our disappointment in not being able to scoop it in, I had to admit that I’d not seen anything like this since my visits to Blackpool as a kid back in the 1970’s when their famous illuminated trams were still running.
We took tram 19 to it’s terminus – well, it was a Ventotto and we had some time to spare – and then back to Sempione/Arona where we trudged the short distance to BQ. I was really whipped up about this visit due to it being a new scooping pub we’d only discovered since being there and, judging by what Paolo had told us, it sounded like just the kind of thing we were after beer-wise! We soon arrived only to find the shutters firmly down and no sign of life whatsoever and, as we stood outside under the ghoulish orange glow of the lights, everything seemed very quiet and desolate; suddenly, I wasn’t as enthusiastic about this visit as I’d been ten minutes before!
We waited outside the shuttered bar wondering what to do; it was now gone 7 and Paolo had definitely said that it was open every day from 7… we were saved from having make a decision by a figure strolling up the street who, on seeing us, shouted out a welcome; I breathed a huge sigh of relief as this was Paolo coming to open up his bar! Within two minutes the shutters were up, the lights were on and a cold, grey lifeless building had been transformed into a welcoming pub and so in we went, helping with the putting-out of chairs, until things were sufficiently in order for Paolo to ask us what we wanted from the bar.
The first thing that I’d seen on entering had been the massive tap array sat on the bar, a large metal affair with 20 taps sprouting from it which seemed almost American in it’s brashness and tap quotient and definitely not something I’ve seen in many European bars! As I progressed along the clips I realised that around half were Italian and half from elsewhere but, even so, there were still at least ten I required plus some more I’d definitely want to drink again including such bizarre choices as Carlow stout, Flying Dog porter and Bayerischer Bahnhof Gose!
Beer – we know what it’s for.
Beer was available by the bicchiere in measures of 40cl at €4.50, 20cl at €3 and, most sociably and not too expensively, three 10cl scooping glasses for €4! Our plan was to try as many beers as possible and so, plumping for the small tasters (which were actually large wine glasses, a very nice touch) and having decided on a 20cl of anything really good if time allowed, we kicked off with White Dog Yellow Fever, Lariano La Breva and Baüscia Mattia which I carried back to our table with badly-concealed glee; this was my sort of bar and we almost hadn’t known it existed!
White Dog’s brew had malt and vanilla on the nose and taste with a suggestion of bitterness in the finish with more vanilla and toffeeish yet dry malt; I’m not a massive fan of their beer although there’s a lot worse! The Lariano was a wheat beer and, unfortunately for us, was of the full-on Bavarian style with lashings of banana and clove: not for us at all, but it did taste like a decently made example! Paolo’s own brewery, Baüscia, had impressed us greatly the previous evening with Adi but, sadly, the Mattia wasn’t as good with too much yeast in suspension which flattened out all the subtle bitter hints which I could just about detect under the yeasty tide; shame, it had promise!
Another round was required and so I trooped off to the bar to select three more beers. Bi-du Jehol was a full-on treacle toffee-fest with additional roast grain, caramel and even some liquorice, all wrapped up in dark malt leaving a toasty aftertaste, Menaresta Felina was vaguely similar if in a more crème brulee way, whilst Freccia Fenicia Zenzero was a bizarre concoction which tasted like a cross between a ginger beer and lambic; whether or not this was intended by the brewer I don’t know but, had I liked ginger beer, I get the feeling I’d have loved this!
We were now getting into our stride; Henquet Natalissia was a deep amber toasted grain brew with a distinct “cinder toffee” maltiness and complex toasty finish, Ducato Krampus was subtlety spiced with a full-bodied malty flavour and some dryness in the finish, whereas St Bernardus Xmas Ale didn’t drink it’s 12% strength – typically Belgian – yet still managed to fill the mouth with a rich, tasty, honeyed malt along with their typical “peardrop” esters. It was now time for a few non-winners and I was particularly interested in re-trying Bayerischer Bahnhof Gose which I’d not liked at all on our only visit to the brewpub back in 2005, so was fascinated to see what I made of it four years later and with much more water – or should that be beer – under my proverbial tasting bridge, so to speak.
Well, it seems as if I still feel the same as when I first tried it, considering it to be a poor example of the style which tastes like a glass of Hoegaarden with salt dumped in it then left outside for a few days might conceivably do. Okay so it has a whiff of brettanomyces, but it’s not enough for me plus it tastes fairly artificial and, even worse, the coriander is way too strong… you may have gathered that I didn’t like it very much! To wash the taste away we tried Verhaege Duchesse de Bourgogne, a traditional Flanders brown from one of my favourite Belgian brewers, and we were delighted to find it on top form with typical varnish and acetone topnotes, a full-bodied toffee malt and cobwebby taste then a sweetish, pencil shavings and toffee finish with more brett; amazing stuff and a lot nicer than I’ve made it sound just then!
Birra “a pompa”.
I’d been surprised to see Carlow Stout on tap therefore we just had to try it after being so impressed with the stuff in Cork a few years previous. Dry, mellow and roasty was the verdict with a growing bitterness and a nutty roast barley finish, yet it was a very drinkable and easy-going brew, easily as good as we remembered it. Staying on the stout theme, Flying Dog Imperial Porter had a typically American rosepetal hop aroma and was fairly bitter, very roasted, full and complex and is probably the best beer from what I consider to be a relatively poor brewery.
The beer list mentioned a beer from Orso Verde, our least-favourite scoops of the previous evening, “a pompa” and so I queried Paolo as to what this meant. He beckoned me to a door at the rear of the bar where I saw, clamped to a table, a handpump attached to a small keg of Orso Verde Rebelde which explained everything! A glass of this was quickly acquired and we found it, happily, lacking the acetone character of the previous evening’s beers and in it’s place was a good bitter, hoppy bite over a rich maltiness; why weren’t the bottles like this, we wondered, as this was a decent beer whilst they had been acetone-laden concoctions only fit to remove chewing gum from carpets.
We finished with Schneider Aventinus Eisbock (12%), against my better judgement, as I figured that only a 12% wheat beer could be worse than a standard one! Luckily it turned out to be a decent enough brew, albeit not one I’d want to drink again through choice, with a full-on almost powdery wheat character, loads of banana and spice, too much alcohol in the finish yet, somehow, it managed to be drinkable and we even finished the glass which I’d not expected to happen!
With three beers back in the room we decided to make a move but, first, congratulated Paolo on this amazing place and promised him that we’d spread the word on the net; places with a beer policy such as BQ need all the promotion and goodwill they can get from beer lovers and so, after being given a Baüscia t-shirt (I always seem to get free t-shirts in Italy!), we were off to catch the next tram 1 which would take us all the way back to outside our hotel in around half an hour plus, as a bonus, it would be a proper 1930’s Ventotto beast! Okay, the tram stop was about twice as far away as the closest one to BQ which we could see from the door, but we both felt the real tram – and direct trip back – was more than worth the extra few minutes’ walk!
Gazza bed smasher.
The tram move worked perfectly and so, half an hour later, we were back in the hotel wishing that we’d had a few more beers in BQ; after all, the trams run until late and there had been some cracking beer in there… ah well, there were still three bottles in our stash and so we opened the first, Cascinazza Amber, which is – apparently – made by a colony of either monks or nuns and claims to be Italy’s first monastic beer for many years! Despite this promising provenance, sadly, it’s not a particularly impressive beer although obviously tipping it’s hat to the amber, candi-sugar style of the Belgian Trappistes. Fairly sweet and candy-ish in taste with lots of sticky malt read my notes but there were no balancing hops or spice and it finished cloyingly sweet and quite bland.
Next was Petragnola Doppio Malto Farro and this was much better in a brown ale kind of way with plenty of dark chocolate, rich yet not cloying malt, and finally some dryness in the finish with even more 70% cocoa chocolate to finish. We ended with Bi-Du Ambrata which I’ve since discovered we had during our first evening in Hop, but hey-ho… and I’m pleased to see that I gave it almost the same tasting notes and the same score! Deep amber, it had lots of fruitiness with a dab of bitter hops before a full-on malt and fruit finish with balancing bitterness; good stuff.
Oh, and about the bed… we had three beds in the room and, as
I sat on the end of the “spare” one to remove my Magnums, there was a sudden
crack whereupon the mattress and I vanished into the base! After extracting
myself from the tangled sheets and creaking woodwork I found that the slats had
come away from the base, much the same issue with a bed I had in Tallinn a few
years back; me and beds just don’t get on! Luckily I hadn’t broken it and so we
patched it up hoping no-one would notice…
Monday 19th January 2009.
The businessman’s restaurant.
It was our final day in Milan and we were flying back from Malpensa at 20:15 so a full day of tram scooping was in order! The weather had brightened up considerably and so, after checking out, it was off out on the heritage Ventotto trams once again before our dinnertime scoops in Q Beer, a strange-sounding place down in the south of Milan. It wasn’t a brewpub, the beers being made out-of-town, but then again there was nowhere else we’d seen their beer and so, being desperate for scoops, there was only one course of action and that was to check it out!
Thanks to the incredibly useful Google maps I’d already seen where the bar was which was lucky as I’m not sure we’d have found it otherwise! Situated in an old factory down a tiny lane off a busy road (with tramlines down the middle) this isn’t the easiest place to find but, thanks to my research, we knew it’s exact location. We arrived at 13:00 and, in all honesty, I expected the place to be deserted out here in the suburban wastelands but as we pushed open the doors a hubbub of chatter and clinking of cutlery issued forth and we saw that it was pretty much full already, mainly with businesspeople on their dinner breaks, so after a very quick decision that some food would be most welcome we were soon ushered to a table amongst a melee of shouting Italians.
We had pesto with pasta and it was pretty good, if a touch overpriced for the quantity received, although it tasted fresh and zingy which was just the thing to jolt me back to life after a few days on the scoop! Three beers were available, lager red and wheat, so sensibly we ignored the wheat and had a glass each of the other two; lager was a hazy, malty brew with a full malt body and some dry bitterness in the finish, well-brewed and solid if unexciting. Red was sticky and caramelly with a hint of bitter hop although the sweet toffee taste was too strong and crushed everything else in it’s path giving a cloyingly sticky finish which wasn’t to my taste at all. I did consider trying the wheat but our hectic schedule had finally crept up on me and I just couldn’t be arsed!
Best beer of the trip – last beer of the trip!
Our beer and food consumed, it was back into town for another winner. I’d read in one of the magazines about beer Paolo had given us that Bi-du Rodersch had recently been awarded a major prize in a recent Italian beer competition and, as it had been on tap in Hop when we’d visited, I was all for going back for a quick scoop if it was still on! I’d flagged it originally as the clip had claimed it was a “Kölsch”, not the most interesting of beer styles, but the write-up had elegised about the brew in glowing terms so I felt that, after the averageness of the Q Beer lagers, it was time for something good. Anyhow, we’d enjoyed the other Bi-du beers thus far and liked Hop itself, so a final beer was definitely in order…
A swift tram journey brought us to Hop where the afternoon service was petering out as the workers drifted reluctantly back to their offices. We settled back at the same shelf from the previous day as soon as I was certain our required scoop was available, and so my final winner in Milan was duly purchased – number 36 of the trip – and it just goes to show that I should read beer reviews more and not be so judgemental style-wise when choosing beer as Rodersch turned out to be my beer of the trip!
Hazy blonde in colour it had a lovely fresh, grassy, hay-like aroma reminiscent of harvest time along with a hint of lemon. The smooth malty flavour was perfectly counterbalanced with a juicy, grassy hop taste then a full-on yet silky bitter and citrus-tasting resinous aftertaste with more juicy grain and a final flurry of hop oils to finish; the beer had been a delight to drink, very European in hop character and certainly not a Kölsch, but rather a perfect summertime refresher that even worked – somehow – on a freezing if sunny day in January!
That was that, then, and so all that remained was to trundle around on yet more trams before taking the coach up to Malpensa airport for our easyJet flight home. All went well until the we boarded the coach which departed at 17:00 and crawled through rush-hour traffic all the way out of the city – taking far longer than we’d budgeted for – and we finally arrived at the airport with less than 2 hours to go before departure; online check-in is a wonderful thing! Despite this shambles, however, the airport was reasonably relaxed and we were home early into Bristol and soon back at the parking where after a momentary farce caused by me losing the receipt we’d been given upon arrival I eventually found it secreted in a lesser-used pocket of my coat and we were given the car keys back.
Another top trip to Italy done and even more proof, if it
were needed, that it’s a country on the up beer-wise; we both decided that we’d
like to return to Milan again although, next time, preferably when it was
slightly warmer to avoid hypothermia on the trams! Before that, however, a
re-visit to Genoa was in order and this was being planned even before we’d
reached the M5!
Milan is a good beer city which is getting better all the time; witness our not knowing about BQ before visiting for an example of how many good beer venues are opening here! I have my issues with Italian beer culture, although they are mainly cultural and my tightness/laziness, but I do find the opening hours of bars (generally from 19:00 or so onwards) fairly restrictive with afternoon opening being like the UK of old with 12:00-14:30 being common, if bars open in the afternoon at all that is! The other issue is price: I know Italy is expensive anyway, but craft beer is marketed as a premium product and often sells for the same price as wine, helped by attractive bottles and labels although this is, in my opinion, where craft beer should be aiming at and so I’m only really moaning as a visit to Italy costs about the same as Scandinavia and I’m tight!
These are only minor gripes, however, and the quality of beer continues to improve even if, as is to be expected from a relatively new industry (most breweries are only a year or two old), there is some iffy beer around at times. Counteracting this, though, are those who can brew and there’s some great stuff around at the moment and – with the number of brewers rising ever faster – Italy is looking very interesting at the moment with Milan right in the epicentre of the micro revolution.
So, is Milan as good as other great European beer cities such as Berlin, Vienna or Copenhagen? Well, yes and no! Bar opening times are one issue where it’s definitely lagging and there aren’t as many brewpubs as the Germanic cities, but there’s a real sense of experimentation in the beer scene with interesting beers being made and lots of beer available in bottles (for a price!) so you can happily scoop away in your hotel room or take a load home. Only you can decide if it’s a great beer destination or just a good one; I personally feel that it’s not yet great but, given a few more beer bars and brewpubs it could be, and I’d certainly recommend a visit as Italy is undoubtedly one of the up-and-coming beer regions of the world at this time and to see it in full ferment, to coin a term, is to see the birth of a fascinating future beer culture.
One thing that Italy does better than almost anywhere else is the beer shop; I’ve been to shops in Rome (Johnny’s), Milan (A Tutta Birra, Enoteca Decanter) and Turin (Fermento) which are all world-class and have few equals anywhere else. Italian beer shops tend to be small and full of all kinds of stuff, not just beer, so you can get glasses, homebrew stuff and other beer paraphernalia in addition to a great range of local and, generally, German, British and Belgian beers. We’ve never been short of stuff to buy and have, in Johnny’s and Tutta Birra for example, realised just how long it would take us to drink just the scoops in the shop never mind the beers we’d love to drink again!
As I’ve already said Milan is reasonably expensive for most things except, seemingly, public transport and espresso! The 48-hour ticket is an absolute bargain at €5.50 (from tabacchis or Stazione Centrale) and espressos rarely come in at over 80¢, even in posh places, although those in the tourist zone are as ching as anything in similar areas anywhere else in the world; I remember seeing multinational “beer” for over £3 a pint in the centre of Prague on our last visit when, with a little knowledge, unpasteurised lager of way superior quality could be had for a fifth of the price! It’s all about nous and the utilisation of it, as usual when abroad, so eat and drink outside of the tourist areas and you’ll save a packet and, in general, get much better comestibles and service than you would sitting with a hundred screeching molluscs (tourists with backpacks) at tables looking out at the Duomo!
Bottled beer is almost universally unpasteurised so it tastes good – or it’s infected, but that’s the payoff with live beer I suppose – which is a huge plus over Germanic countries where it’s usually dead and filtered. There are also several options for buying said beer, we visited two but there are at least two more which we flagged as we already had more than enough bottles! As I’ve said a few times, bottled beer is marketed like wine with correspondingly high prices but that’s the way craft beer needs to go in my view and so if the beer inside it good I don’t mind paying for an expensive bottle, although I do begrudge paying for crap hiding behind a nice label…
I can’t offer much guidance on food as we ate twice in Usman’s curry café and the rest of the time survived on bread and cheese in the room (as we do!) plus the relatively meagre breakfast in our hotel. Being the fashion capital of southern Europe there are, as you’d expect, hundreds of posh places who’d be delighted to relieve you of €100 a head so it’s really up to you what you want to eat and your budget.
Hotel-wise I’d definitely recommend the one we stayed at, the Brianza, at Via Panfilo Castaldi 16; it’s not far from Stazione Centrale, right next to several tramstops from where you can get anywhere, is close to A Tutta Birra and as long as you get a decent deal (we got €81 a night B&B for a double which isn’t bad for Milan) I’d go for it although the breakfast was slightly stingy we thought. All in all, though, Brianza is a good choice and we’d definitely stop there again although if you want somewhere more basic there's the Milano Centro Ibis across the street which is almost always cheaper if a little impersonal. Another choice, if you want to stop close to BQ, is the Nasco at Corso Sempione 69, 5 minutes walk from the best bar in town. We stayed in March 2010 and it's a decent place with good breakfast buffet and trams 1 and 19 (plus a plastic) stop almost outside!
Milan is comprehensively covered by the Google Streetview on Google Maps so you can check out prospective hotels and bars before you go! Try it - it's superb, although the phots were taken before BQ existed!
Getting there and getting around there. (Updated 02/04/10)
Milan has three airports if you believe the cheap airlines although, in reality, there’s only one proper airport and that’s Linate, 7 miles south of the city, with the only realistically-priced link via easyJet from Gatwick. The other two airports, Malpensa (27 miles NW) and Bergamo (also known as Orio al Serio, 28 miles NE) are hour-long coach trips away although, to be honest, both are served excellently with a modern air-con coach every half an hour (at least) which terminate on the south side of Stazione Centrale in a melee of shambolic coach stops, shouting bus touts and confused tourists; it’s great fun and everything you’d imagine Italy to be!
Bergamo is served mainly by Ryanair from Bristol, East Midlands, Manchester, Liverpool, Stansted, Luton and Prestwick with Jet2 flying from Leeds/Bradford. Malpensa is easyJet’s destination with flights from Bristol, Edinburgh, Gatwick and Luton, plus Air Berlin from Stansted, FlyBE from Birmingham, Edinburgh and Manchester, Germanwings go from Edinburgh and, currently, the wild-card is Air Baltic from Gatwick!
From Malpensa you can take either Malpensa Shuttle or Malpensa Bus Express to the station, these leave every 20 minutes or so and cost €7.50 single or €13 return with tickets available on-board. Bergamo is served by Terravision, every 30 mins to central station for €10 single or €16 return bookable on the website, although note that these buses may be badged as Autostradale or even Ryanair! The other (cheaper) option is Orioshuttle (Air Pullman), every 30 minutes, costing €9 single or €14 return, once again bought on the bus or via the website (where you can get them for a bargain €6 single and €12 return). So, despite these two airports being a fair way out, they both have good connections and they’re not excessively expensive either.
As I’ve mentioned back at the beginning, Milan’s tram system is a bit of a shambles despite being ever-expanding and able to take you to within a short walk of all the bars and brewpubs of interest. It’s not that it’s not reliable as it (generally) is, it’s just that working out which stop you’re at is nigh on impossible in places as few have signs and even those that do have different names for each direction of travel! You’ll get used to it after a day or so if you’ve done much travelling and it even becomes a kind of charming quirk which, when you find stops with names, leads to minor disappointment at the move being too easy!
There’s no real tram map as such although you can get a vague transport map for free from metro station information offices which shows most lines although not all stops! My advice would be to print out maps before you go and prepare for some overshoots and shambles along the way although we found everything eventually. The transport authority’s website is pretty decent and is here with the new English version now there, but Italian is fairly easy to understand the basics of so you should be able to work out most of it.
Tickets are split into urban and interurban with the latter used for trips outside the city’s central zone although, unless you’re visiting the further-out brewpubs, you’ll not need them. For most people, the best ticket is the Abbonamento bigiornaliero 48 ore, or 48-hour two day ticket, which is valid – as the name suggests – for 48 hours from first stamping and costs a paltry €5.50; be aware that there are two types of stamping machines in trams as most tickets are now contactless cards so you may need to go to the front of a tram to find one that will validate your ticket. Buy them from tabacchi (kiosks) or the ticket offices at metro stations such as those at Stazione Centrale. Despite the centre of Milan being fairly small and eminently walkable the good beer bars aren’t there so you’ll definitely need some kind of validity during your stay.
We stayed at the cosy and friendly Hotel Brianza at Via Panfilo Castaldi 16 for a number of reasons, mainly the decent rate we got (Milan's hotels are very expensive!), it's proximity to the Tutta Birra beer shop and also it's ease of access by public transport with five tram routes passing by - two right past the front door - with most being operated by "proper" 1930's ventotto trams. The breakfast was a bit poor but everything else was fine and I'd recommend Brianza to anyone looking for an easily reachable hotel from where you can access the city's beery delights. There's an Ibis almost opposite which will save you a few quid.
Another choice, if you want to stop close to BQ, is the Nasco at Corso Sempione 69, 5 minutes walk from the best bar in town. We stayed in March 2010 and it's a decent place with good breakfast buffet and trams 1 and 19 (plus a plastic) stop almost outside!
Gazza’s bar and beer of the weekend.
Bar of the weekend.
Not a huge problem to choose in this instance, although as usual in Italy we ran out of time to search out other opportunities owing to the restricted opening hours!
BQ. Superb scooping pub with 21 beers available and even 3 0.1l tasters for €4! Run by Paolo Polli, this is the must-visit when in Milan and you'll go a long way to find anything better than this... Rome, probably!
Hop. I really liked this bar with it's scruffy cosiness, excellent beer choice and friendly staff which serves a great range of Italian beer including Lambrate's superb Ligera.
Ambrosiano. Okay so it's not a brewpub when they sort of make out they are, but the beer is good, fairly local and pretty much unobtainable elsewhere in the city.
Beer of the weekend.
Some corkers were supped during the three days we were in town, 37 scoops in all, and from those I've chosen my top three.
Bi-Du Rodersch. Billed as a Kölsch but nothing of the sort in reality, this is a lovely, fresh, hazy and very hoppy (in a European grassy, juicy and lemony way) brew with loads of character, taste and easy to sup.
Lambrate Ligera. Almost lives up to it's billing, this time an American pale ale, a lovely brew with an amber colour overlain by leafy, citrussy hops with hints of roses and resin. Bitterish, malty and tangy hop finish, excellent stuff. Served from handpull at Lambrate's brewpub and from tap (which tasted better!) at Hop where it's on almost permanently.
Baüscia Adi. At a mere 4.5% I didn't expect much, but this pale ale had plenty of lemony, hoppy character with a great drinkability akin to a modern British golden ale and a good flowery, bitter and citrussy finish plus a hint of maltiness.
Milan beer gen is here...
© Gazza 02/03/10. V2.1
|Bauscia brewery||Birreria Decanter||Zythum brewpub||Now that's a tram... 1929 vintage 1564 in Duomo loop working service 19||20 taps at BQ|
|BQ, the top scooping pub in Milan||Paolo Polli in BQ with his 20 taps!||Gazza and Paolo Polli in BQ||Gazza scooping in QBeer||QBeer|