A pub on the Finborough Road, Earl’s Court, so far so bad. Add a theatre, a great keg and cask selection, and a proper landlord who just happens to know one of the leading lights of the Italian craft brewing scene – hooked. So a tap takeover and meet the brewer by Birrificio Italiano at the Finborough Arms was a no-brainer for your correspondent.
Agostino Arioli of Birrificio Italiano is one of the best known Italian brewers (one of 850 commercial breweries now!). In common with other brewing luminaries he preached freshness. I agree, having tasted beer straight out of the tank at breweries you get so much more flavour. Also Agostino doesn’t like to filter, I’m not convinced about this, I can see the theory of leaving everything in the beer but can also see the sense in stabilising it somewhat.
There were six beers on keg and once the theatre crowd had dispersed Agostino gave a talk. The epitome of Italian class and cool, it was entertaining and informative. My rather incomprehensive notes on the beers follow,
Tipopils – Not many wise people would disagree with landlord Jeff Bell’s choice of this for his house lager. A classic.
Imperial Pils – Comparatively weak at 5.8% by the standards of modern Imperial versions but this is another long standing B.I. beer. A substantial, full flavoured beer.
B.I. Weizen – Big banana hit! Not so spicy but a sipping hefeweizen.
La Piccola – My note on this one just says ‘Bonkers’. I seem to remember it was a good bonkers. It’s a light saison with added Sichuan pepper that gives that weird umami thing going on in a beer. I’m pleased with my one word summary.
Bibock – Quite dry for a bock, a good thing imho. A classy drink.
Nigredo – Saved for last, a black IPA, it ran out!
So this isn’t the site for long flowery descriptions of beers but there are three take home messages from this evening.
Birrificio Italiano beers are seriously well made, seriously good beers – drink them where you find them. Plan your next Italian holiday around a trip to a brewery.
Finborough Arms – don’t be fooled by the location. Landlord, beer selection and quality, food, theatre, events make this a proper good pub. If you want a quiet drink don’t go there on Chelsea matchdays though.
Quality not quantity – you don’t need 300 ho-hum best bitters and make a festival out of it. Half a dozen quality beers of interesting styles is a lot more fun.
Beer selection: 8/10
Beer quality: 8.5/10
A good night out: 9/10
Total score: 41/50, 82%