It is early doors in one of Milan's busiest craft beer bars. The place is heaving, with Italian locals and our mixed group of Brits and Italians. Service is appallingly slow, but the bar staff seem to be happily enjoying themselves, even if some of the desperate customers aren't. A bell rings at seemingly random intervals, rung by a cheery barman and of course, Brits being Brits a chorus of "Last Orders" immediately strikes up. But closing time is hours away. We don't know what the bell ringing is about, but it becomes background as we carry on supping and chatting.
Later, elsewhere, one of our party, a veteran of Milan - which unaccountably many seem to be - it isn't the most beautiful of Italian cities - explains to us that the bell is rung whenever a good looking girl enters the premises or approaches the bar. It's just what they do in some places it seems. To prove the point, it happens in another very busy craft bar the next day too. Meantime, in the sports bar which is the pub nearest to the apartment in which we are staying, the busy place is run with incredible charm and efficiency almost entirely by young women. They dispense beer and food at lightning speed and there is a smile for everyone. No bells are rung here.
Ordinary everyday sexism or just Italian charm? You judge, but I preferred to get my beer quickly, with a smile. I bet the women do too, though it was good to see so many young women happily drinking beer.
The more crafty the bar, the worse the service was. These places are incredibly popular in Milan and maybe, just maybe, it goes to the head of those serving and operating the bars.Staff were all male in the craft bars as far as I can recall.
Ever seen Carlsberg Special Brew on draught? Me neither and I didn't try it.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer writer, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival from 2013 to date. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink.
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