Although Hungarians love to drink beer, make no mistake this is serious wine country. But Hungary also has a strong tradition of making wine at home, so it’s perhaps little wonder that the craft beer and microbrewery culture that first took hold in the States is now flourishing in this part of the world. We went to Élesztő (Hungarian for yeast), the self-proclaimed home of all things crafty and beery in Budapest, to see what all the fuss is about.
Everything about Élesztő, tucked away in the ninth district, is Hungarian. In addition to the 17 beers on tap, it is put together in the style of Budapest’s signature “ruin” pubs – think dim lighting, mismatched furniture, street art and an outdoor courtyard for the smokers – all of which means it’s a big hit with the locals. A beer comes in at between Ft 600 and Ft 850 (averaging around 2 quid a pint), so you’re not going to have to break the bank for something quite out of the ordinary.
This is a perfect place to sample the local brews on your own terms, but we attended an afternoon tasting session with owner Daniel and beer expert Krisztina, who talked us through everything from what goes into beer and how it is made, to how to taste it and the various beers on offer. All of which was very interesting, because even the biggest beer monster’s knowledge tends to be quite limited in this regard.
The selection we tasted comprised six beers in six categories, a pils, a hoplager, an imperial lager, an IPA, a porter and a special beer that runs through a weird machine called a hoppinator for extra hoppiness. All the beers were good, but the pick of the bunch and the most drinkable over a longer period (say a stag weekend!) is Keserű Méz (Bitter Honey), a slightly sweet “hoplager”. The best news is that you don’t have to go to Élesztő for this one, it’s now available all over town and in bottles at the better supermarkets.
The tasting session came to a close with a couple bottles of 12% beer champagne, beer hopped up with champagne yeast. Certainly a novelty, and judging by the hangovers the next day, probably a mistake!
Cheers, or should I say “egészségedre“.
Book an afternoon craft beer tasting session for your Budapest stag weekend: https://www.stagrepublic.co.uk/budapest/stag-activities/relaxing/craft-beer-tasting/
Adrian is a copywriter and translator with his own company in Budapest. His mother tongue is Hungarian, his father tongue is English and he has also picked up German along the way.