Food and Drink

The Top 10 Beers of Eastern Europe

October 21, 2014
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©istockphoto/blowbackphoto

©istockphoto/blowbackphoto

One of the greatest joys of traveling is sampling the local cuisine, and beers are not a part that should be overlooked.  It’s a beverage that’s been brewing throughout much of history, but a new movement is revitalizing some of the earlier traditions surrounding it.  Eastern Europe is also a strong case of old meeting new, so it’s a great experiment to discover some of the brews the region has to offer.

Czech Republic
This is a strong beer center, and it’s probably most famous for Pilsner Urquell.  However, it would be a crime to overlook all the smaller, tastier brews that the Czechs have prepared for us.  To stick with the well-known style, you have to try the Koutský 12° Světlý Ležák.  It’s the Pilsner that the famous Urquell desires to be.

However, with a nod to the celebrity in the group, it’s also recommended to try the Pilsner Urquell Nefiltrovaný.  If you’re able to find it, you’ll see that this limited edition beer is unfiltered, unpasteurized, and quite different from the original.

Poland
The northern, Baltic shores of Poland will make you want to have something with a little more strength and weight to it.  The hints of coffee and chocolate really balance out the heaviness of the Pinta Imperator Bałtycki and ensure that you’ll be warm on even the coldest of winter evenings.

If you’re more in the mood for something on the bitter side, try to fill your glass with the AleBrowar Rowing Jack.  It’s a well-balanced beer with a touch of citrus.

Hungary
A recent microbrew craze in Hungary has started welcoming the stronger, hop-filled flavors of the India Pale Ale to the land-locked country.  With many to choose from, be sure not to overlook the Távoli Galaxis IPA which does an excellent job of mixing some malty flavors into the bitterness.

Serbia
The Black Turtle Brewery has quite a few locations around Belgrade, and they’re the perfect place to recount the day’s adventures. They realize that a beer doesn’t have to be intense or outlandish to attract a following, and that’s why you can’t go wrong with the simple but successful Black Turtle Stout.

Slovenia
Named after a famous cave-dwelling creature, the HumanFish Pale Ale is a light but aromatic ale that you’ll find on tap throughout one of the younger European nations.

Lithuania
Now it’s time to step out of your comfort zone and try something a little more edgy.  The Vilniaus 13 Statinių is a barley wine that is more often compared to some sort of herbal liqueur than beer.  But, traveling is about trying new things, so grit your teeth and take a sip.

Croatia
One of the strongest beers in this mostly coastal country is also one of its tastiest.  The Tomislav is a porter that really stands out in a place where darker beers are hard to come by.

Russia
This list is starting to feel a little heavy with porters, but that’s what you may have to learn to like when searching for tasty beers in Eastern Europe.  We’ll finish with the Baltika 6 Porter which is known for its iconic bottle, its oil black color, and its reasonably mild taste.

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