Newbury Racecourse Beer Festival

Pub/Bar of the Month July 2011: Pub del Duca, Genova Nervi, Italy

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Pub del Duca, Genova Nervi, Italy

These are exciting times. Great beer is sweeping the globe. Today you can find outstanding ales and lagers in the most unlikely corners of the world, as I discovered on a recent visit to Genoa, Italy.

Pub del DucaGenoa is a congested city, squeezed on to a narrow strip of coastline, tightly hemmed in to the sea by steeply rising hills.

It was once one of the world’s foremost maritime republics and is still important as a port today.

As fascinating as it is to meander through the tight streets, gazing at the impressive World Heritage palaces, or stroll along the rejuvenated marina area, it’s also pleasant to break out and get some sea air.

I did just that, taking a 25-minute train ride along the coast to the suburb of Genova Nervi after a tip-off about a great beer bar that overlooked the bay. I was not disappointed.

Nervi is another world from the hustle and bustle of its historic neighbour. Here the main feature is the twisting, turning, climbing, falling cliff-top promenade, its red brick pathway leading from the station over a succession of rocky coves and past some lush parkland to my final destination, 15 minutes away.

The bar is called Pub del Duca (The Duke’s Pub) and immediately strikes you as nothing special from the outside. Indeed, there are several other bars more aesthetically tempting along the cliff path.

The old part of the bar is small and dark, just a couple of no-frills drinking areas around the serving counter and a clattering kitchen at the back. Just outside the front door is the modern section, a completely separate, boxy structure that juts out over the stony beach below.

Views, Food and Beer

The views over the Mediterranean are, of course, delightful but there are two far more relevant things that entice people here: the food and the beer.

As I sat and scoured the menu, the pub slowly filled up with local diners (always a good sign), not all of them beer drinkers, but every one – in the great Italian tradition – fastidious about their food and beverage choices.

On the food side, the menu is short and simple, majoring on fresh seafood and local specialities.

I was tempted to really get stuck in but I knew that would leave less room for the beer, so I settled on one course, a bowl of pasta, potatoes and green beans with fresh pesto that I washed down with a bottle of Brasserie de la Senne’s perfectly dry and herbal Taras Boulba.

Pub del Duca BeachThe mere mention of this one Belgian ale is suggestive of the quality of the beer list.

Other Belgian classics such as Duchesse de Bourgogne, Bush 12 and Saison Dupont, plus most of the Trappists and lambics from Cantillon, also feature.

They are joined by less obvious selections from the same country, including Binchoise Blonde, De Ranke Guldenberg and Brugse Tripel.

US craft beers are prominent, along with UK exports from Coniston, Ridgeway, BrewDog and others.

Beers from La Rulles, Achouffe and Sierra Nevada were the best draught choices on my visit but the thriving Italian craft beer sector was represented in bottle only, with selections from Chevalier, Toccalmatto and Genoa’s own Maltus Faber and La Superba.

Boasting around 90 choices, the range touches all bases. The only downside to the Pub del Duca experience was having to leave to catch the train back to the city, but the stroll back to the station turned out to be memorable.

With a few beers quickening my step, the scent of Mediterranean plants wafting through the air, the lights of moored ships twinkling like jewels and the seductive lapping of the waters on the pebbles below, it rounded off an evening I won’t forgot in a hurry.

Pub del Duca, Via Romero 5, 16167 Genova Nervi.
Tel. (010) 321564
Opening Hours: 7.30pm–2am; closed Tuesday


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