In the lull of the hot Roman summer, nothing quite beats a cold beer to quench the parching afternoon sun. While Rome may be riddled with English and Irish pubs featuring quaint names reminiscent of Oliver Twist and Ulysses and cold Guinness on tap, the real deal for beer tasting seemingly centers itself on Rome’s rive gauche with its a crop of artisanal beer bars.
In the Trastevere neighborhood, Bir & Fud sets its menu apart from the rest of the nascent beer houses with its ample selection of handcrafted brews and its creative comfort food, especially the delicious paprika and licorice potato chips, while just across the street is old school favorite Ma Che Siete Venuti a Fà, also known as the Football Bar, stoically serving a rotating selection of artisanal beers within its football-bannered walls.
In the Vatican’s Borgo neighborhood is the unique Cantina Tirolese, known on the hush hush for hosting Pope Benedict XVI’s afternoon beer breaks when he was a cardinal. A kitschy Alpine-themed fondue restaurant, Cantina Tirolese also has on tap some of Austrian’s finest beers. Newcomer to the beer scene is Bed and Beer in Ponte Milvio, Rome’s most recent hipster hangout about 15 minutes north of the city center. Touted as Rome’s smallest beer bar, Bed & Beer showcases 500 beers form over 25 countries, a World Cup of beers, so to speak.
And back in Rome’s Centro Storico, Just as precious as milk reads the wall motto on Rome’s homegrown and notorious Antica Birreria Peroni, a turn-of-the-century beer hall on a side street above busy Piazza Venezia. The original Peroni beer house, faithful to its turn-of-the-century with original art nouveau frescoes, brass ornaments and old-fashioned wooden tables and booths, features Peroni’s four frothy favorites: Nastro Azzurro, Crystall Red, Fuller’s London Pride and Peroni Gran Riservas.
Though the Peroni Nastro Azzurro and the double malt Peroni Gran Riserva are the beverage of choice and often food for thought, Birreria Peroni is also noted for its excellent pastas, hamburgers and wurtsels (hotdogs), boasting eight different kinds of dogs with fourteen variations. Wurtsel wannabes, be wary of the Kilometro whose rude presentation (a wurtsel interpretation of the lower half of Michelangelo’s David – or perhaps the missing pieces from the 17th century phallus purge) is accompanied by a spectacle of singing.
Tip: for those intimidated by artisanal fancifulness but wanting a refreshing beverage, ask the local barman for a gasoso e birra, a delicious and thirst-quenching Roman “cocktail” of beer and soda water.