Hopping Around: Hungary

It was great to be back in Sheffield again for a few days in October for the Steel City Beer & Cider Festival. Once again, it was a really successful event and credit goes to all the volunteers who work hard throughout the year to make it so enjoyable. Poppy and I have now been back in the UK for a month, but there’s still plenty of countries to tell you about, so here goes…

August Bank Holiday rolled around and we were back on the move again. Our destination this time was Budapest, the capital of Hungary and fast becoming one of Europe’s foremost craft beer cities. The perfect place for two young beer bloggers to spend a long weekend.

We were staying a little way out of the city centre in Ferencváros, probably better known for its football team. However, the district is also home to Élesztő, one of Budapest’s famous ruin pubs. These bars aim to bring old abandoned buildings back to life, and of the 20 or so in the city, Élesztő has the biggest focus on quality beer from local breweries such as Monyo and Horizont. They actually opened a cask ale bar here a couple of years ago – Roger Protz was invited to the opening – but sadly it apparently didn’t take off. Just around the corner, Pepin also had a great selection of local bottled beers, including Fehér Nyúl White Stout (5.2%), a collaboration with London-based Hackney Brewery.

Hedon Bazilika tap room

A couple of days later, we headed into the city centre intending to spend the afternoon on a free walking tour, learning more about Budapest’s history and architecture. About half an hour in though, we decided that it wasn’t for us so we made our excuses and left. Coincidentally (or not), the point where we left the tour happened to be just around the corner from the Hedon Bazilika brewery tap room. The beers weren’t especially memorable, but the concept was; there are 32 taps lined up on the wall and you simply put some money on a card, then go up and serve yourself as much or as little as you like!

We visited some of the other brewery taps around the city too: the Monyo tap room next door to the Great Market Hall was a cosy affair, a small bar with only 6 beers on draught but an extensive bottle list. The décor at the Legenda tap room was rather retro, but the beers were reasonably priced, especially given the strengths. I tried the double IPA, Snakebite (8%), but Poppy was even braver with her Bitumen imperial stout (12%), both of which came in at around £1.40. Meanwhile, Ogre Bácsi a couple of blocks away presented beers from Szent András microbrewery in a comfortable cellar bar setting.

Ogre Bácsi

If we’d had room in our backpacks, Csak a jó Sör (“Only Good Beer”) would have been the perfect place to stock up on some of the local bottles. This huge shop in the Jewish district offered hundreds of beers from Hungary and beyond to drink in or take away, as well as a handful of taps. Sadly, with luggage space at a premium we moved on to Hopaholic, where I tasted probably my favourite beer from our time in Hungary, the delicious Mad Scientist Szilvas Gombóc plum pudding gose (10%).

Hungary was an anomaly on our travels as we actually left for a couple of weeks to visit Serbia. Serbia actually had a surprisingly thriving beer scene, but that will have to wait until the next issue. When we arrived back in Hungary, we stopped off for a few days in Szeged, a beautiful city filled with Art Nouveau architecture.

Csak a jó Sör bottle shop

We’d planned to spend an afternoon checking out some of the craft beer bars in the city centre. Sörök Háza (“House of Beers”) and Maláta both looked promising, but unfortunately the weather wasn’t on our side. As we were strolling through town a huge gust of wind appeared from nowhere, bringing down trees and flinging roofs off buildings. We arrived at the bar to find tables and chairs strewn around the beer garden; unsurprisingly they weren’t open for business that day. Instead we made do with spending the evening in our accommodation with a bottle of wine from the supermarket.

As promised, I’ll be back next month to tell you about our adventures around Serbia. I must admit that as we’ve been working at various beer festivals since getting back, we still need to write the last few articles for our blog but we’re hoping to get them done in the next few days. If you’d like to check them out, please head to hoppingaround.co.uk – thanks again for reading!

Dominic Nelson

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