We’re in the process of putting together our next book – tentatively titled “Now We’re Here, Dear, Where’s the Beer” – a guide to good beer in bad beer cities. The concept was brilliant when we conceived it five years ago and it’s still worth pursuing now. The problem is that so many of the “bad” beer cities have turned into incredible centers of phenomenal brewing energy. America’s first “brewspaper” recently featured Rome as one of Europe’s prime beer cities—and they are right.
Still, as the lead song in The Music Man says.. “You’ve got to know the territory.” Celebrator got it right for beer geeks – get across the river and drink yourself into next week. But for the average tourist a trip to Trastevere is out of the way. But just a couple of blocks away from the Coliseum is a wonderful intimate cask-only pub just a few hundred meters from the watering holes where hundreds of Americans are thinking they’re experiencing Italian beer in the fancy glasses of Peroni.
We’ve found, however, there are some 20th century hold-outs from the beer revolution. First on our list is Geneva. We’ve found you some OK beer places – Irish (sytle) bars range to the top of the list, which says a great deal. We send you to better, but only a few. Venice is another city that almost makes it to the “dang” list, but with effort you can spend a few days drinking very well.
We’ve been torn as we write this book to balance accessible bars with really good beer and local bars with the marginally acceptable beer, but with great local atmosphere. The decision isn’t hard, really—we’re including both. In Venice it’s not hard to find the latter. Research and a good map – and daylight to follow that map—can take you to a handful of good beer bars that would hold their ground in most cities, but the ones that are close to tourist destinations are few.
Devil’s Forest is one of the few that is very accessible to a main tourist thoroughfare while providing a wide range of really interesting beers. The best way to find it, honestly, is to receive the advice we got—“just past the Disney store”. The words are better than the map that left us lost for the better part of an hour. If you’re wedded to a map, cross the Ponte di Rialto toward S Bartolomeo, angle right across the square and look (good luck) for Calle Stagneri.
Venice is a must see for European tourists – it probably won’t be there for your great grandchildren and might not be there by the time you sail off into the sea of eternity. Seize your chance to see it. There’s great beer there with a bit or work. I hope we’ll make it easier for you to find it before you go.