Two shop fronts, one bar, connected with a passageway. One side has the main servery, the other some tables, chairs and a couple of taps on a mini bar which weren’t in use when I went. It’s 6pm, they’ve just opened and there’s six people in, including a bloke I’d seen in another bar the night before.
De Cervesia (I think it’s Latin for beer) sits in a small square dominated by an imposing medieval gateway, together with several other cafes and bars. It’s a popular meeting place for Lucca’s young people and students. Tourists are definitely in the minority here.
I lost count of the groups who arrived together then starburst into separate premises for the tipple of their choice, wine for one and beer for the other, De Cervesia seemingly selling solely beer. As well as this tap room the same company runs a bottle shop with a couple of taps about 500m away in Via Fillungo, the main street, but I didn’t manage a visit as it’s not open at the beginning of the week.
Decoration is in the usual minimalist style. There’s a nice line in artwork. Pendant lampshades have been created from empty cardboard boxes. Tall bench style tables in the sitting down side. A selection of beer magazines and the Italian beer guide. Toilets absolutely first rate, albeit a shared single trap affair.
As well as the five draught beers there’s an interesting bottle selection behind the bar which they were continually topping up from the high tech cold store in the second room. It doesn’t matter what container beer is kept in, if it’s not kept cool and dark then it will deteriorate quicker, more so in a country where it often gets to 30ºC and above.
Prices were reasonable €3 for a pico, €5 for a media. Apparently a €2 deposit was required to take a glass outside, but we flitted from room to room, in and out the windows, on the benches outside and they never bothered, even though most of the other outside drinkers were given plastic glasses.
I even ended up behind the bar at one point, examining the hand pulled ale set up. A bog standard hand pump fixed to a box atop the bar. Dismantling of the box revealed a pukka beer engine inside. It was the next bit I couldn’t fathom because the line was connected to a Polykeg. I’ve never seen beer dispensed like this, and I’m presuming the connected gas is at low pressure (cask breather style), but I tried it, and it worked, a full stroke dispensed about a quarter of a pint of excellent Hammer Bulk 6% Porter – real ale Italia.
It goes without saying, all the beers were unpasteurised, unfined and unfiltered and came from a mixture of Key-kegs, Polykegs and Euro kegs (stored under the bar in a chiller cabinet. As well as the Porter, the other stand out for me was the Codogno (Lombardy) based Brewfist brewery Green petrol, an 8.2% Black IPA.
It would have been nice to chat further with the lovely lass and lad behind the bar and find a bit more, but they’d got a bit of a rush on and and neither of us had a proper command of the others language, making it a tortuous process. By this time it was about 7pm and the square outside was packed with people and a well dressed old man trying to tap everyone up for a few sobs. Outside seemed to be the location of choice, the vast majority of Italian youth seeming to think smoking is cool.
If it wasn’t for the fact everyone was speaking Italian and the massive castellated gateway looming over the square you could have been in any big city in the UK, America, or anywhere really. It had a really nice buzz.
The only downside being you couldn’t hear the music they were playing inside; Prodigy, Norman Cook, Leftfield. My ears pricked up, despite the party atmosphere in the square, I had to go back inside because tonight God is a DJ.