Top 6 craft beer bars in Budapest
Budapest has long been one of Europe’s top party cities, with its famous ruin pubs and late-night bars where a pint, shot or glass of wine often costs less than a pound.
Right now, the city is undergoing a craft beer revolution; not just bars devoted to ales but microbreweries opening across the country and a young generation of 'Gypsy brewers' conjuring up new recipes at home, renting brewery space and creating intriguing beers.
Prices remain very reasonable and the highlight of the year is Fozdefeszt, a three-day festival celebrating Hungarian beers and street food.
It's already been and gone for 2015, but here are a few stops to give you a solid 'head' start for 2016.
Eleszto Craftbeer Garden
Eleszto, or 'Yeast', is a must-see; a rambling post-industrial space that was once a glassworks.
It resembles the city’s famous ruin pubs but has successfully moved with the times and offers not just the biggest choice of draught Hungarian artisan ales (21 different taps) but tasty, cheap food, a cosy cafe for hot chocolate and cakes, a healthfood juice bar and beer-tasting and brewing classes.
The latest innovation is a beer-cocktail bar run by mixologist Gabor Nemeth, who stirs creations such as Eden, a startling combination of lemon juice, lavender and honey syrup, Tanqueray, a dash of bitters and American Beauty pale ale, garnished with a lemon pill, chocolate truffle, juniper and hops.
The heart of Budapest’s nightlife scene is the Gozsdu Courtyard, lined with bars, bistrots and clubs. On a quiet parallel street is Lehuto 1 and 2, two adjoining bars that just lack a connecting door.
Kolos Kosa, a craft-beer fanatic, opened Lehuto when he was organising the first Fozdefeszt, and currently, he explains, indicating a huge map on the bar’s wall: “The choice for beer-lovers is incredible, with around 50 artisan microbreweries dotted round Hungary producing over 200 different craft beers.”
With around 60 brews to choose from, it is difficult to know where to start, but Kolos recommends at least tasting Fekete Erdo (Black Forest), a porter using forest fruit and four types of malt, Keseru Mez (Bitter Honey), a lager that actually has a bitter honey, ale-like taste, and Vorosbegy (Red Robin), a delicious caramel malt brew.
Jonas Craft Beer House
You can’t miss the giant whale-like glass and metal Balna building on the edge of the Danube just by the Liberty bridge.
It lay empty – for political reasons – for several years, more white elephant than whale, but finally opened 18 months ago, with a new craft-beer bar, aptly named Jonas. While the Balna still seems half-empty, Jonas is booming, especially its sunny waterside terrace, a summer venue for concerts, beer and street-food parties.
The owner, Zoli Reketye-Trifan, has his own microbrewery just outside town, and guests sit under a mural explaining how beer is brewed.
Reketye-Trifan recently won a prize for his Shifty Beaver, a creamy, hoppy American brown ale, and several 'Gypsy brewers' are on the drinks list, including the present flavour-of-the-day Monkey Funky Yeah, a hazy amber sour wheat beer brewed by Hara’Punk.
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The name of this unique bar says it all: 'Only Good Beer'. And the snug shop-cum-salon is like coming into your friend’s home, sinking into the sofa, then deciding which beer to pour – except Kovari Gergely happens to have 300 different bottles lining the shelves.
This is an institution for beer aficionados and Gergely has been brewing his own since 2009, joking that: “The difficult part of my job is that I try every beer, so I am sure I really do like it before I sell it.”
Although he is a pioneer of the local beer revolution, he also stocks ales from around the world. Don’t miss his latest creation, Deep Throat, a creamy 8.8 percent foreign stout whose smooth aftertaste comes from a final addition of cane sugar.
No food is served here and it closes at 9pm – much earlier than most Budapest watering holes.
Kandallo Artisanal Pub
Almost opposite Csak a jo sor, this is the perfect next stop on an evening pub crawl because this cool, fashionable bar also serves thick, juicy burgers or a delicious sharing platter of every Hungarian sausage imaginable.
The choice of bottled beers is small, but 16 Hungarian craft brews are on draught, including Black Raven, a milk stout, and Kaltenecker Kras, a rare craft lager brewed just across the border in Slovakia.
If you want a change from artisan ales, Kandallo also serves organic Hungarian wines, creative cocktails and the lethal end of many a Budapest evening, Palinka fruit brandies.
In summer it opens a lively outdoor beer garden, Kandallo Kert, just around the corner.
Hopfanatic Brew Pub
On a pretty square just off the city’s famed Andrassy Avenue, a narrow entrance takes you down to a maze-like tunnel bar that showcases the beers of independent brewer Hopfanatic, whose grizzly hop logo looks more like a genetically-modified Jolly Green Giant.
This is a no-frills, serious beer-drinkers spot, with long communal wooden tables, 10 taps and 50-60 bottled ales to choose from.
Tamas Kiss started the microbrewery and pub in 2013 and admits he is obsessed with making hoppy IPA – one IPA is even called No Hop Limit.
“But we do also brew White Hops, which is like a German weissbier,” he explains, “a serious porter, which at 12 percent is the strongest stout in Hungary, and a light summery American pale ale called Alulu, where grated coconut is added to the fermentation.”
For newcomers to craft beer, try the tasting tray of five different beers for just $4.
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This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk
This article was written by John Brunton from The Guardian and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.