If the journey from Open Baladin to Bir & Fud was short and easy, then the one from Bir & Fud to Ma Che Siete Venuti a Fa is even easier: turn right out of Bir & Fud and the Football pub is the first bar on the left, the one with all the people spilling out onto the street.
Tiny inside, it creeps back from the tightly filled bar past to-be-used-soon keg and opens into a small box of a room with football on the TV and beer posters all around. Downstairs is another small room, dark and cool, a great late-night drinking spot. And that’s definitely what this place is: somewhere to properly drink. Bir & Fud is for chilling out, eating and enjoying a few beers, the Football Pub is where it kicks on.
The beer list is more imports than Italian, including some American, Belgian and Danish beers, ranging from little and light to big and dark, although the front line of the beer taps are led by two A-list Italians: Italiano Tipopils and Bibock. I start on Tipopils which was one of the must-have beers on my list before we arrived. I’ve had a few bottles before, I’ve enjoyed it with homemade pizza, and I like it a lot, so wanted it on tap. It arrived in a chunky pint glass, very pale in colour, and smelt like fresh noble hops, zinging with grassy, subtle fruitiness. However, I must’ve got a bad batch because it tasted like hopped wort, which was gutting.
Moving on, I had a Italiano Bibock and it was sensational. A caramel-red colour, smoothly malty underneath and then the most incredible hop flavour I’ve tasted in a beer in a long time – so fresh, so clean, so fruity and grassy, vibrant and pronounced and delicious, plus a bitterness that gets your full attention. I could still taste it the next morning.
Then we had to go home and sleep because it was past midnight and we’d been up since 4am. But we did return later in the week and I had another Tipopils and it was fantastic. Cool and crisp, simple yet wonderfully complex and interesting and tasty, with those noble hops showing who is boss. I must’ve got unlucky with the first one because this was brilliant.
The Football Pub is for drinking in, a ‘spit and sawdust’ kind of place, as Zak Avery says, compared to the clean temple of Open Baladin. It’s for groups of friends to hang out and order beers and talk shit until you can’t drink any more. Some bars are just made for that kind of thing and this is one of them. It’s a great place (the 2nd best bar in the world, according to RateBeer’s Best Of list).