Florence, Italy

Date visited: July 2017

Florence is a beautiful city packed full of statues, wonderful architecture and many a tourist.  It’s a city that’s small but perfectly formed and across the few days we spent in this treasure of Tuscany we had an absolute blast navigating the narrow streets (and narrower pavements) in search of the sights and all the P’s – pasta, pizza, Prosecco and p..beer.

If I was nit-picking then my only real complaint was the lack of green public spaces to sit and watch the world go by in the summer sun. We did venture to Boboli Gardens (not a public space but great all the same) for a mooch around which had some lovely greenery and had some excellent views across Florence only to be topped on our last evening where, following a typically large dinner, we joined every other tourist at Piazzale Michelangelo – a square with panoramic views of the city – for sunset.

We stayed south of the Arno river away from the hustle and bustle of the main tourist areas around Florence Cathedral and other buildings I should probably look up the names of – saying that, the food market there was excellent and we got some very succulent doughnut peaches and nectarines which were delicious. It meant that the area directly around our apartment felt a little more authentically Italian and we found a few more traditional food (and beer) places here. We weren’t far from a fantastic restaurant called Ditta Artigianale that we ended up in at least twice during our short visit. Our arrival lunch was exactly what I expected from Florence – a beautiful beef carpaccio that was as good to eat as it looked. Washed down with an excellent APA from Florence microbrewery, Birrificio Math.

But what was the beer scene like? Surprisingly decent, actually. Italy isn’t one of those countries that really comes to mind when you think of craft beer so I was pleasantly surprised that we managed to route out a couple of gems amongst the plethora of restaurants serving Birra Moretti or Peroni. Here are our favourites, in alphabetical order:

Archea Brewery

Conveniently located just 5 minutes from our apartment was this unassuming delight. Not actually where the beer is brewed (that’s outside of Rome) is this, err, ‘brewery’! We popped in during the day for a quick beer before dinner and the atmosphere was welcoming, if a little dark and dingy. We came back after the sun had gone in and spent the evening playing Uno soundtracked by some old school punk rock tunes, sipping some fine beers like the cool kids we are. The barman was super friendly and we had a chat about beer for a while – he even tried to give me my last round for free but being a proper English gent, I left some money on the bar before we left as a thank you for his hospitality.

As well as their own Hydra IPA, that was mentioned on Drunk in… July, my other favourite was a WarPigs IPA called Thirstin’ More that I didn’t expect to see. Archea is probably the best bar in Florence. Top marks.

BrewDog Firenze

I was mocked for wanting to visit a BrewDog whilst abroad but it was my first opportunity to see what an international BrewDog is all about (“it’ll be the same Hedges, what are you on about?”). As it was only a stone’s throw from the touristy area it made a quick beer or two here at lunch-time all the more an obvious, and necessary, choice.

It definitely had enough about it for it to be worth a visit – I like visiting smaller BrewDog’s because they often have their own artwork/style and feel way less like a chain (if you ignore some aspects). We grabbed some beers and sat in the alley out front trying not to melt in the freak heatwave that was going on.

I had two beers from Milan microbrewery Birrificio Lambrate, one an ordinary lager (Drago Verde) which was fine in the sunshine but the other was a wonderful New England IPA called The Magic Tram brewed in collaboration with London champs Beavertown that fully justified visiting this bar.

Fermento

I’m sneaking Fermento into this list just because I wasn’t expecting such a great beer selection from a restaurant located right in the tourist square (and around the corner from BrewDog). The beer I had here was featured in Drunk in… July, so go read that. I also had a fantastic lunch of cacio e pepe (basically a massive bowl of pasta covered in parmesan and black pepper – carb heaven) that helped soak up the aforementioned BrewDog beers nicely but also meant the lack of park to go a lie in for an afternoon nap was sorely missed!

Mostodolce

Last but not least comes brewpub, Mostodolce. I’m including this place despite it lacking any atmosphere – it was the afternoon and the sun was shining so there were very few other patrons in the bar with us so I’m willing to look past that.

The bar itself was one of the bigger ones we had visited which may also be why it felt so empty. Nevertheless, we persevered and had some decent liquid refreshment before we walked up to the quite forgettable Botanical Gardens at the Museum of Florence (honestly, go to Boboli Gardens instead, it’s faaaar better). Beer-wise we settled on Fra’ Bartolomeo and Oggy a hefeweizen and IPA respectively. Both were nice enough but I feel like this is a place to visit for an evening.

Special shout out to The Book Pub for having a Green Flash beer on tap and for Beer House Club for looking so generic we decided to sack it off. We did miss out on Diorama which looked excellent but we ran out of time. A reason to go back? Maybe…

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