I’m in the middle of Bologna and on the top floor of the Ambassadors building at Librarie Coop, which advertises itself as a library but also seems to sell books; whatever its function it’s a place that seems like a pretty decent bookstore (think Barnes & Noble) — however on the top floor of the building there are shelves and shelves of beer, some of which I am familiar with in the UK, Belgium and the US, others are the aristocrats of the Italian beer scene. It’s pretty cool. The whole building is in what was once a church and there are the remains of the nave (perhaps it’s the nave or maybe I’ve lapsed on the lapse as I’m rather hazy on church architecture) at the end of one mighty wall. This space also did time as a porn theatre but now it’s only right that it’s dispensing all sorts of knowledge over three floors with the three tiered book store, a café and artisanal foods on the second floor and right at the top the bar and accompanying restaurant (the eating and drinking places going under the name of EatItaly), where are there beers that make me warm and fuzzy and rather glad I am where I am. I order a draft Forst Sixtus, a review of which I had edited in 1001 (an Italian copy of which I found downstairs); it’s a doppelbock that I had always wanted to try — I like its toasty, chocolaty character and a finish of (more toastiness) dryness. I then ordered a glass of the same brewery’s Heller Bock, pale and strong, fragrant and glasslike in its fragile dose of malt sweetness and hop bitterness. There is a clear explanation of the beers on draught on the wall, colour, strength, ingredients etc, and I just feel that this is so right — it’s a gratifying experience, a flying buttress of gastronomic joy that combines books and beer (and wine as well) in a way that only a book-burning teetotaller with no room in their heart for good food could turn their face against. As I watch the woman who served me my glass of Sixtus bend her elbow to the cutting, the sawing into chunks, of the evening’s bread for the diners to come, I was aware that my glass was empty. And waited until she had finished. Another please. Beer and books: would it be too much to ask for this to catch on in the UK?