The fourth Football in Heaven weekend in Romania looked too good to miss, involving six matches and two nights in Transylvania based in beautiful Braşov, complete with Hollywood style lettering.
It was supremely organised by Emi, who arranged free admission for us to Romania v Spain. A 50,000 crowd enjoyed an exciting game that ended 1-2 after a stirring comeback from the home team though the no alcohol within three kilometres of the ground rule came as a shock to some in our group.
There are now direct flights from Glasgow to Bucharest and I had arranged to meet four fellow groundhoppers and Good Beer Guide tickers in a Ground Zero brewery bar. The congested traffic from the airport almost defeated me, as did the fact that the bar was now called Beautyfood. Paul and Dave were suitably unimpressed but bravely drank some rather good bottled beer.
Paul has produced a remarkable spreadsheet that lists, by year, every London pub that has ever appeared in the Good Beer Guide (1,716 since you ask) from which he gave periodic readings. Beautyfood had a curious toilet sign.
The next day we headed into the Carparthian Mountains.
It’s not all football and beer
We took in a game in a stunning setting at Busteni.
Stand might need a bit of work
Then we hit the bars of Braşov with some urgency. There were two with impressive beer selections. Tipografia was where I was first introduced to the magnificence of Hop Hooligans beers, several more of which were tried over the next few days.
There are over 100 breweries in Romania now and some are producing superb beer. We tried plenty more in Jar, an upstairs bar of great merit. The Bereta Tetraphobia, an 8% IPA bursting with blackcurrants, was one of the finest beers I have ever had.
Braşov is a medieval walled city that doubles as a ski resort in winter. The gothic Black Church is a major visitor attraction.
Reading from the 1523 Good Beer Guide
It also lays claim to the world’s narrowest street that was hosting a temporary art installation.
Saturday saw two more games, the second in Rupea. Romania is an invigorating mixture of old and new, urban and rural, with more castles, churches and monasteries than you could collect even in a big bag for life.
It is also the most hospitable country I have visited. At the penultimate match our group was ushered on to the pitch before the game to take applause from the local ultras.
Before returning to the capital we rounded it off with Romania 1 Malta 0, the goal being scored by George Puscas, Reading’s record signing, to cap a fantastic weekend. Thanks Emi.