Up until a couple of years ago, Hungary had a rather boring beer scene with mostly mass-produced beers, such as Dreher, Ászok, Soproni – and not to mention the ill-famed Kőbányai. But in the last couple of years, some people decided to shake up the Hungarian beer scene, craft beers in Budapest quickly became a thing, and after a while, more and more bars started to have local beers on tap, instead or next to the old mass-lagers. So, let’s see what the hottest brews are right now in the the capital.
If you like it ice cold and as bubbly as possible, probably you’re a lager type. This bottom-fermented beer is the most common type in this part of Europe. Most of the Hungarian craft lagers follow the Checz lines, commonly Pilsner-style (pale or blond lagers, with a tiny bitter taste), but we have nice Bock-style beers, too (dark or brown, using caramel mash for the colour and sweeter taste). The most popular choice of craft lager is Keserű Méz from the Fóti Brewery; it’s a quite hoppy unstrained drink both in bottles and on tap. Try it at the Léhűtő just off Gozsdu Court.
Let’s move on to the more exciting, top-fermented beers, called ale. Ale goes back to a far older tradition, especially around the British Isles and some North European countries like Belgium. In fact, Hungary had the first impact of quality beer a good few years ago from Belgium, it counted really cool and posh to drink their super-strong, mostly super-sweet and/or fruity potions. But although it was the first comer, we don’t have many Belgian-style beers today. But if you are looking for a fruity beer experience, then Legenda Brewery has three fruity and an abbey-style brews in bottles, which you can try at Monyó Café.
Still ale, and the most popular type is the IPA (India Pale Ale). It’s actually the subgenre of pale ales (other subs: English Bitter, Scotch Ale, American Pale Ale, etc.), IPA is the most hoppy, therefore comfortably bitter style, using big variety of hops, no wonder why Hungarians like them. Legenda Brewery is one of our favourites with their crazy APA called Brutal Bitter, dominated by Amarillo hops; the milder Jokerface and Kelet Indiai Társaság. Try one of them at Lumen or Felni. Worth to mention the award winning Tántorgó parIPA from Csupor Brewery. They havetheir own tiny pub too, which is a must-visit place. Távoli Galaxis by Zoltan Roth is also a popular IPA with a unique taste; a great choice if you’re looking for a nice beer to go with your dinner.
Porters and stouts are very popular as well, and although they are quite different, many people tend to mix them up. Both are the sub-styles of Dark Ale, but while porter is a simple (usually black or very dark) brew with lighter tastes, stout is heavier and has many varieties in terms of color and taste (from chocolate to coffee, from milky aftertaste to something like a fisherman’s palm). One of the tastiest ones is Zip’s Stout by Zip’s Brewhouse from Miskolc. Unfortunately you can only get it draught at beer festivals in Budapest, otherwise you need to pay a visit to the brewery. Importer is a very exciting, pretty strong Double India Porter, a Hungarian-Norvegian co-production by Hopfanatic Brewery and it’s on tap at Hopfanatic’s own pub.
As the beer masters have a great passion for experimenting, they ended up with some rarer and fanciful drinks. Let’s see a few of them: Horizont Japán Búza (Japanese wheat beer by Horizont) is just as amazing as it sounds, with a dark blond colour and a tiny trace of citrus flavor. It’s not hard to grab it in town, but we recommend that you try it at Neked Csak Dezső!. Leave the dull Corona behind and try the Hungarian “Mexican” beer, Cortez from Rizmajer Brewery. It’s a very nice traditional corn beer, with 55% of corn. Try it at Check-In or Felni, or if you want a nice dinner, go for it at Kandallo, where you also can try a pumpkin beer from Gyertyános Brewery. And there’s another must-visit place, Csak a jó sör (means Only the Good Beer). They have an impressive list of bottled beers from around the world and the beers on tap are always changing. Make sure you try Dupla köleses from Bandusz Brewery. It’s a very dark bottom-fermented lager with a double amount of panic-grass for the brewing.
It’s always fun to explore the craft beer scene on your own, but in Budapest, you can also take a craft beer tour. If you’re looking for a great craft beer experience with other travelers or want to keep it small for you and your friends, then check out Budapest Local’s Craft Beer Tour. Budapest Local will take you to 5 craft beer bars in the city. Beer tasting and snacks are included in the price and you will even get a bottle of limited edition Budapest Local IPA at the end of the tour.