Thursday 21 February 2013

Beer and books

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?


  1. boak and bailey found a place in Cornwall recently on a similar theme

  2. Good morning

    I tried leaving a comment for you last week but I am not sure it got through. I am contacting you on behalf of the East Lancashire Railway and we would like to invite you and a guest to a one off, free Rail Ale Trail on 9 March.
    The Rail Ale Trails are a celebration of local ale and local history and we would love for you to be involved. If you would like to attend the Rail Ale Trail please contact me on before 5pm tomorrow.
    You can find more information on our Rail Ale Trails here:

    We look forward to hearing from you, regards

    Chris Arnold
    Marketing and Admin Assistant
    East Lancashire Railway