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Isolla della Birra, Milan

This friendly bar isn’t too far from the centre of Milan, reachable by public transport or a € 10 ride from the Central station. It is in a quiet neighbourhood, and on a Monday evening it was quiet inside, too. Vocal jazz kept pleasantly in the background, this is a place for conversation or finding a corner to relax with a newspaper. Hey, they even played some Paul McCartney classics!

A number of local micro beers on tap, most of them from the Lambrate brewery. The emphasis is on Italian beers in their selection of bottled beers, too, with a splendid range of the Baladin beers, for example. A few German beers as well, plus Newcastle Brown Ale on tap if you really need to have it.

I made my way through the draft beers available, the best of them was Monte Stella from Birificio Lambrate. It is technically an ale, and is entered as a kölsch at ratebeer. It is a good example of how the Italians defy all conventions when they start micros, they don’t waste their time making pastiches of beers from elsewhere. A kölsch is usually a soft beer with subtle malty flavour, while this has been given the full hoppy treatment. Flowers, dust and a dryness that lingers in the mouth. Maybe more a beer for demonstrating the power of hops than for session drinking, perhaps, but I applaud the experiment.

The language skills behind the bar are not amazing, but the Italians always get by. They will call over one of the regulars who speak English to translate if necessary.

The guests seem to be mostly locals, with some expats in the mix.

There is a nice smell from the kitchen, and the menu is dominated by small dishes that you can add up to a full menu if you wish. I have some tortellini with Gorgonzola which suit me just fine.

I round up with a bottle of Super Cheese from Baladin, which is brewed to drink with cheese. (In Denmark or the US, they would probably put the cheese in the brew!) This comes in a 75 centilitre bottle, so I have had enough for the night. I would not mind coming back here, though!

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