Ratings Key (0-10)
A: Choice and/or quality of drinks
B: Style and décor
C: Atmosphere and feel
D: Amenities, Events & Community
E: Value for money
F: The Pub Going Factor
Bars marked (*) will take you to our full profile write-up!
|King Grizzly *||Florence||9||8||8||6||6||8|
|Orzo Bruno *||Pisa||8||8||9||8||7||9|
Similar to other Southern European countries where wine is the main focus, beer has always been a sideshow in Italy, to the detriment of the quality of beer and, if you discount Osterias and the like, good pubs as well. However, that is changing.
It is clear since the early 2010s, there is an emerging small brewery scene in the Emilia-Romagna/Veneto area, some of which has garnered international renown. My last visit confirmed Tuscany has joined in the fun, with breweries scattered across from Livorno, Pisa, Prato, Florence and so on.
Traditionally Italians have tended to drink pale lager, strong ‘doppio malto’ pilsener, wheat/wit ale and red ale, and although you could previously scoff at it’s poor beer scene, they did at least have this tradition. It manifests itself in some quite funny ways. For instance, you will note the horrible Tennant’s Lager on sale in many bars and most supermarkets (it must have marketed itself well in the 80s). You’ll quickly notice how heavily Italy leans on Germany for good beer (and why not eh?) by virtue of how most bars stock a good German beer or two. However, all these new breweries are challenging that status quo, cleverly making sure they offer enough of a range to fill up a bar’s tap choice.
As for the pubs themselves, your traditional Italian dive pub would look like someone tried to turn a corridor into a room, with elderly gents popping down for a morning beer of something fizzy and harmless and a cig, while everyone respectable is downing their morning espresso. Italy seems to be just about dispensing with the generic ‘modern bar’ scene that plagued the early 00s as well, so you’ll find much more pleasant bookish/alternative places serving better products in an informal setting. There are some gems lurking around the spaces between osterias, modern bars and Irish pubs. This isn’t Belgium though, don’t rely on simply wandering around – I’d still advise doing your research in advance.