I travelled a lot last year, covering around 70,000 miles by air and plenty more on the ground. Along the way, I visited a lot of beer places and enjoyed a lot of good times with good people.
Such plenitude makes choosing a favourite, or even five favourites, a difficult task, but in the end I arrived at two beery destinations that stood out for me. They are, in some ways, very similar enterprises, and in others quite different. But they share in their hearts a commitment to great food and excellent beer.
They are: The Meddlesome Moth in Dallas, United States, and Bir & Fud in Rome, Italy.
The Moth was the first I visited in 2012, so it shall be the first discussed here. Offspring of the beer bar chain, Flying Saucer, itself with 15 (about to be 16) locations mostly in the southern U.S., the Moth is a creature of a decidedly different sort, with a more formal but still casual aesthetic, a fine list of beer offerings on tap and in the bottle, and a creative menu that veers from basic sandwiches in the afternoon to steak frites and other brasserie favourites at night, each listed with a recommended beer pairing.
Other places do the same, of course, and some execute it with equal or even greater success. But the Moth does it in Dallas, not exactly a long-standing craft beer Mecca, and does it with grace, style – quirky though it may be – and taste. In three meals enjoyed thus far, I’ve yet to sample anything I would consider even mediocre, much less sub-par, and the beer list is always as carefully selected and stylistically diverse as its Texas location allows it to be. Kudos to Moth navigator Keith Schlabs, Chef David McMillan and the whole Dallas crew on a job very well done.
Bir & Food, although showing equal dedication to the victual side of its menu, is the pizzeria yin to the Moth’s Belgian-esque, gastropubby yang. Smaller in size but no less selective in its offerings, it sits on a back lane way in the Trastevere neighbourhood of Rome, almost directly across the street from another great Italian beer destination, Ma Che Siete Venuti a Fà, informally known as the “football pub.” It’s sometimes cheek-to-jowl crowded and jostlingly busy, but inviting even on a cool late autumn Roma night.
With fewer taps and a lot less space, management at Bir & Fud has to be circumspect in what they carry, but that doesn’t mean quality need be at all compromised. The eighteen taps pour all Italian craft beer and the international bottle list is judiciously chosen, all waiting to accompany quite excellent pizzas and other dishes. Judging by the crowds on what I was told would be a “slow day,” the people of Rome appreciate the effort.
So, for 2012, I salute two beer places that highlight the joys of great beer and fine cuisine: The Meddlesome Moth and Bir & Fud!
Tomorrow: 2012’s Ontario Brewery of the Year!
10 Replies to “Best Beer Place of 2012: A Tie!”
“Best” lists are always a matter of personal taste. In recognition of that, here are my two candidates for best beer places of 2012 (though neither is new).
The Royal Oak in London: no TV, no music, no crap beer. A Harveys pub serving real ale in an environment where people can talk with their friends while enjoying honest, well-made beer (and no ” Smoked Tea Saison” or others of that ilk). As the CAMRA London guide wrote: “Close to perfect traditional pub with fine cask and bottled beer from Harvey’s.”
Brauhaus Schumacher (Oststrasse) in Düsseldorf: again, no TV, no music (unless someone starts singing or a band decides to perform), no crap beer. In fact, like a fair number other German pubs, they only serve one beer: their Alt. Because they recognise that enjoying beer means quality, not quantity/variety. The food is also excellent, but what puts them in a special league is the service by their waiters. Hard to describe it, but well worth experiencing.
And finally, all of Bavaria for special mention.
Should you ever be back here in Rome, give “Open Baladin” (via degli Specchi, 5) a try, it’s even better than Bir&Fud imho.
I did visit Open Baladin, and it is a terrific place. Looking forward to a return visit!
Thanks Stephen; We love the Moth too, but just bought out tickets to Rome. Please visit again soon! Shannon
Cheers, Shannon, that’s a great place you and Keith have put together.
Another brewery I must try!