Shipyard Brewing Company of Portland, Maine has begun distributing several of its beers in Italy, and the natives couldn’t be happier. I had the chance to not only visit some of the places serving one of Maine’s earliest-made beers, but I was escorted around Rome by their distributor’s rep, Sandro Maione.
I happen to be in Italy with my professor husband, and while this is a vacation for me, I’m also working on my new book. So when I asked Shipyard brewer Bruce Elam for the names of bars with SBC beer in stock, he got the team working to get me connected with Sandro.
It was my first trip to Rome, and we only had two days there. I wanted to see the sights, but I didn’t want to pass up this opportunity to see beer from home being enjoyed in Italy. So Sandro gave us a personal car tour, pointing out the ancient Roman sights as we sped our way through Friday evening traffic. By night, with everything lighted up, Rome is spectacular.
Our first stop was at Shamrock Irish Pub. Everyone loves the Irish, don’t we? And there are several Irish pubs in Rome. The owner of Shamrock is Alessandro Buzzi and he said he can’t keep Shipyard stocked, it’s being requested so often. “I had a full cooler last night, and have only four beers left.” We lined up the remaining Monkey Fist IPA’s on the bar and got some photos. The bar crew was getting ready for the night’s rush, but paused to “monkey” around behind the bar gripping bottles of our beer and grinning sheepishly at being asked to pose.
HAUS GARTEN BAGEL BAR: What a weird concept, but it looks like it works: beer bar and bagel bar. Why not cover your bases and sell coffee and bagels during the day and serve up beer at night. A really hip place, with original art on the ceiling (not at all like that of the Sistine Chapel, but just as striking), Haus Garten had some Blue Fin Stout and Shipyard Export on hand. I had an Export, with its crispy bite of flavor, realizing how thirsty all this research was making me.
ROMA BEER COMPANY: Modern and sleek, this large bar was buzzing by the time we arrived. We did a quick in and out, seeing that their Friday night rush was about to start. Vincenzo Salerno posed at his bar, a little surprised that he was going to be featured in a blog post. Roma Beer Company was carrying Seadog Raspberry Ale, also a Shipyard product, and the hefty price tag was 28 euros for a sixpack. With Euro at about $1.35, that’s $37.80! But this is the land of the Lamborghini, after all.
According to Sandro Maione, Shipyard is selling well in Rome, and includes himself as one of its fans. “I like the hoppy beers,” he said. Although I don’t speak Italian, and he spoke limited English, his message was loud and clear. Italy could open a great new market for American craft beers.