Best of Budapest

Craft beer is big business in Budapest and it was one of the cities I was most excited to visit. Dotted around the city there are dozens of bars offering everything from tiny Hungarian microbreweries to big international names like Mikkeller and Evil Twin. We looked online for where to visit during our time in town, but there were so many recommendations it was all a bit baffling.

Being the noble people we are, we spent some time exploring the city to try and come up with these lists of the best beer Budapest has to offer. Hopefully, somebody will find them useful – but even if not, we had good fun trying them out!

Best local craft beer

The Hungarian craft beer scene isn’t too well-known abroad just yet, but judging by this evidence it could be the next big thing. Budapest is full of small breweries producing all sorts of styles, from classic pales and IPAs to sours and stouts. Wherever we were in the city, there was always a bar or two nearby offering some great local stuff.

Legfelsőbb Beeróság

In the city centre, right by the Great Synagogue, is Legfelsőbb Beeróság. This place is run by locals for locals, with all 10 draught and 120 bottled beers coming from Hungary. For geeks like me, it was the perfect place to find some new beers to try. There were no English translations that I could see but the staff were happy to try and help. Due to the central location, the prices can be a little high (around 800-1000HUF for a small); however, there’s a good range of styles available, always including at least one stout or porter.

A few blocks away, Hopaholic also offered a good selection of local beers, with a few international names thrown in for good measure. Operated by the team from Csak a Jó Sör (see best bottle shop), this bar looked fairly small from the outside. However, head downstairs and you’ll find plenty of cellar space to relax and enjoy your drink. I had possibly my favourite Hungarian beer here, the delicious Mad Scientist Szilvas Gombóc plum pudding gose (10%).

Hopaholic

Those feeling adventurous should take a quick tram ride down to District IX. Here you will find Élesztő, one of Budapest’s many ruin pubs. The bar itself offers more than 20 taps of Hungary’s finest craft beer, while in the courtyard you can also find plenty of great street food and a carnival atmosphere. If that wasn’t enough Spirit Bar right next door has another 10 taps of its own. Expect Monyo, Horizont, Fehér Nyúl and more.

Best international craft beer

Sometimes as good as the local beer was, we fancied a bit of something more exotic. It’s true that most of Budapest’s beer bars tend to focus on local craft (and rightly so I think), but we still found a few places to get our international fix. Hops Beer Bar is probably the best place in town to find the biggest international names. Its 9 taps featured the likes of Mikkeller, Omnipollo, Dugges and Põhjala – really something to suit all tastes. A word to the wise though, it definitely isn’t for anyone on a budget. The beers only come in one size, 0.33l, and the cheapest cost around 1300HUF (£3.50).

KEG Sörművház

Alternatively, if you’ve crossed over the Danube to Buda you may have worked up a sweat walking up to the castle or climbing Gellert hill. You’re in need of refreshment and only a cold beer will do the trick. Undoubtedly the best bar on this side of the river is KEG Sörművház. Faced with probably the biggest beer wall in Budapest at 33 taps, we were definitely spoiled for choice. There were beers from Russia, Denmark, Germany, the US and more, as well as a pretty spectacular local range too. Maybe the best part though was the air conditioning – much appreciated respite from the late August sun.

Best on a budget

If like us you’re watching the pennies, you might want to enjoy some great craft beer without breaking the bank. Although Budapest isn’t the cheapest place overall, there are still a few places left that offer excellent value for money. Two of the best pubs with reasonable prices are surprisingly just a few minutes’ walk from the city centre.

Three blocks up from Oktagon metro station, we came across Ogre Bácsi. Meaning “Uncle Ogre” in Hungarian (the owner Laszló is affectionately known as Ogre), this classic cellar bar has around 10 beers on tap, plus fridges full of many more. Most of the beers come from Szent András microbrewery, including the house lager Ogre (5.6%). You might not see many of the well-known craft names here, but a small beer will only set you back around 400HUF (about £1.10).

Ogre Bácsi

Just around the corner from here, we also found the Legenda brewery taproom. The interior was a little bit “retro”, but the beers were decent and didn’t cost the earth. Beware, there are some strong ones on offer here. I sampled the double IPA, Snakebite (8%), but Poppy was even braver with her Bitumen imperial stout (12%). Both came in at around 500HUF (£1.35) for a 300ml serving, but at that strength we made them last a while!

Best bottle shops

Looking online for the best places in Budapest, one name kept coming up time and again. Csak a Jó Sör is Hungarian for “Only Good Beer” and they certainly deliver on that promise. This sizeable bottle shop sells literally hundreds of bottles and cans from all around the world. Of course, you can take them home to enjoy later, but there are also plenty of tables if you just can’t wait to sample your latest purchase. As well as the myriad bottles, there are also six beers on tap too. I opted for one of these, a refreshing Sörműves Kezek Super Lemon Gose (4%). It’s a shame it only opens until 9pm – or maybe with such a huge choice that’s for the best!

Csak a Jó Sör

We also came across another good bottle shop around the corner from Élesztő. Pepin Kézműves Söröző looked fairly unassuming from the outside, but inside the fridges overflow with bottles from all of Budapest’s best breweries. We actually went here on our first night in town and it provided a great introduction to the local beer scene. I particularly enjoyed my bottle of Mad Scientist Mango Bay (5.2%), a really fruity, smooth milkshake pale. Poppy meanwhile fell in love with White Stag (5.2% white stout), a collaboration between Fehér Nyúl and London’s Hackney Brewery.

Best brewery taps

Monyo was one of the few Hungarian breweries I’d heard of before arriving in Budapest. I’d been enjoying their stuff in other bars around the city so on our last day we decided to head to their brewery tap to find the full range. Right next door to the Great Market Hall, Monyo Tap House is a fairly small bar with 6 beers on tap, plus many more in bottles. We decided to take a seat outside on the terrace, which offered a great spot for some people-watching. Monyo’s sour beers are particularly good; I enjoyed Ich Bin Ein Hipster (4.3% cherry Berliner Weisse) and Sour Rise (5.9% fruit sour).

Hedon Bazilika Taproom

Hedon Bazilika Taproom is also worth a visit, even if purely for the novelty value. No ordering beers here – you get a card on entry which you can either prepay or settle up at the end. On the far wall there are 32 taps, plus one for water. You simply pop your card in and pour yourself as much or as little beer as you like (or can afford!). Personally, I didn’t think the beers were the greatest but I enjoyed the concept. However, Poppy was really taken with one of the guest beers, Monyo Black Mamba (7.1% vanilla milk stout).

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