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Friday, March 8, 2013

Archea Brewery: Florence Italy

Later in my trip to Florence, Italy, we tried to find the Archea Brewery.  My phone was not working properly (I burned out the charger and was having trouble with the touchscreen) so I was having difficulty looking up the location on Google Maps.  After two trips to the wrong places, we finally found the Archea Brewery on Via De'Serragli 44r (there’s no website, but they have a facebook page).  Again, being Americans, were showed up right after they opened at 6:00 pm and were the only patrons in the place.  Fortunately, that allowed us to chat up the bartender, who was quite familiar with the Archea brewery and craft beer in general.  

The establishment is not technically a brewpub as they brew their beer south of Rome, but they did sell two of their own beers on tap, alongside several others and they had an incredible selection of bottled beer.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that they sold Bam Noire from Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales.  We told the bartender that the Jolly Pumpkin  brewery was only about 10 miles from our house in Michigan.  He did not seem too impressed—perhaps we should have used kilometers instead of miles.  Nevertheless, the beer selection was impressive.  

I had a pint of the Archea Bock beer.  It was a nice, strong bock (8% ABV) with the right amount of malt and bitterness.  My wife wanted the Rogue Hazelnut Stout, but they were out of that excellent Portland, Oregon beer.  Instead she settled for one of the bottled stouts (Old Engine Oil Stout I think it was called).  We sipped and chatted with the bartended as he open up a bag of potato chips for us.  We learned from him that there were over 500 breweries in Italy and that the enjoyment of craft beers and home brewing was on the rise in his country.  He told us of the difficulties he had importing American beers and was impressed with the variety of craft breweries appearing across the US.  He told us about Archea Brewery and their plans to expand the number of selections and to start bottling the beer. 

After all this chatting we were ready for some more beer (OK, I was).  I asked for a pint of the Archea Pils.  Instead, the bartender poured me tasters of the Archea Pils, the Jackie Brown, and the Take my Adweiss.  The Pils was thin and slightly lacking, but the Mikkeller Jackie Brown was divine.  I had a pint of that.  As we finished our beers, more people began to show up and the bartender seemed to know them all.  The Archea brewery taproom in Florence, Italy is a fun beer oasis among the land of the Italian Renaissance and Chianti. I highly recommend it to any craft beer lover.


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Beer House Club in Florence Italy

There is a quiet craft beer revolution taking place in Italy.  Yes, Italy, the land of wonderful wines such as Chianti Classico, Malvasia,  and Vernaccia di San Gimignano. I did not know this until right before a recent trip to Florence, Italy.  Knowing of my love of craft beer, my wife did a search on Florence brewpubs and to our surprise lots of information came up, including several “brewpubs” and places that sold craft beer. During our Wintertime trip to Florence we visited some of these places.  Several  establishments stood out to me. 
One was a place called the Beer House Club, located near Santa Croce at Corso dei Tintori, 34/r (note that a “r” means red or rosso which indicates the address for a business.  Residences are a different color and follow a different numbering scheme).  Here’s the website:

The Beer House Club was an ode to craft beer.  We stopped by early in the evening, with jetlagged bodies, to have a beer while we waited for restaurants to open back up.  Because of the time of day, the place was not busy and we were afraid that it was not open.  We asked and the guy at the bar welcomed us in.  The beers on tap were written on a chalkboard, and the bartender eagerly gave us a description of each beer in English, since we don’t speak much Italian.  There were several locally brewed beers on tap including one from the Florentine MOA Brewery (My Own Ale):   They also had a great selection of craft beers from around the world—many of which I had never tried.

I selected to try the 12 MAO while my wife had a Winterlude from the Italian Ducato Brewery (  Both were very good.  While we were sipping these brews I had a chance to look around.  The decoration for the entire place was beer-related.  The ceiling and walls had a collection of six-pack carriers and case boxes from craft breweries around the world.  The back wall had shelves with about 100 beers bottles (I think these were the selections that were, or had been, available for purchase).  There was even a sign that said “Keep Calm and Have a Beer”, which may have been a nod to the phrase coined by Charlie Papazian in his famous book on brewing homemade beer: Relax, don’t worry, have a homebrew.

We also chatted with the bartender, who was also the owner and a craft beer fan.  Hearing that we were from the US, he told us about the difficulties he had getting beer from the US.  Despite this, the Beer House Club served bottled beer from Sierra Nevada Brewing, Flying Dog Brewing, Breckenridge Brewing, and Lagunitas Brewing.  None were from Michigan, but a great sample of brewers from the US.

After our second pint, the jetlag was calling.  It was time for a quick dinner and long night sleep.