Originally the Jewish quarter of Kraków, Kazimierz was pretty much destroyed during the Second World War. For decades the area lay neglected, but over the last 20 years or so it has begun to reinvent itself. Myriad shops, restaurants and cafes have opened and some of the Jewish community has even started to return. There’s also a growing craft beer scene, with bars offering interesting beers from Poland and beyond. Our apartment for the week was just over the river in Podgórze, the perfect location from which to go and explore Kazimierz.
We also had a special guest during our time in Kraków; Poppy’s mum Liz was staying with us so she came to explore some of the bars too! The evening actually began on our side of the river in Miejscówka. Acting as a taproom for Trzech Kumpli brewery, this bar had 12 beers on tap plus cans and bottles from highly-rated international breweries like Evil Twin. I went for Misty (5.5%), described as a “contemporary IPA”. Slightly hazy in the glass, this beer started juicy before giving way to a drier finish. Poppy, ever the DIPA lover, sampled Pan IPAni Double (8%). It wasn’t bad, although a little grapefruit-heavy for her liking.
A quick stroll over the bridge led us into Kazimierz itself. Just a couple of minutes away, we came across Mostowa, an arty cafe-bar with an outdoor terrace and an engaging photography exhibition adorning the walls. There was no draught beer, but the fridge was packed full of interesting Polish craft. We chose three bottles from one of our favourite local breweries, Browar Brodacz, and found a table. DDH NEIPA Simcoe Mosaic (5.6%) was exactly what it said on the label, a hazy beer filled with flavourful US hops. Similarly, Grapefruit Rosemary American Pale (4.9%) offered plenty of citrus, which balanced nicely with the subtle herbal notes. Last up, Double Impact (8%) was a typically boozy and malty DIPA.
As it was getting quite late, we decided just to visit one more place before calling it a night. Ursa Maior, a microbrewery based in the Bieszczady Mountains, has its tap room here in Kazimierz. We called in and went for the tasting flight, 200ml of each of the brewery’s 6 beers. Some were a little hit and miss, but there were a couple of standouts. Wataha (7.2%) had a strong pear aroma which gave way to a nice bitterness in the mouth. Meanwhile, Śnieg na Beniowej (4.6%) was a golden ale which had a funky smell (Poppy described it as “meerkat”), but on drinking it evoked pleasant peach, vanilla and cinnamon flavours.
While that was enough for one evening, my appetite had been well and truly whetted. I decided to go back to Kazimierz a couple of days later to explore the rest of the area. Kraków’s highest-rated bar online was Craftownia, so it seemed like the perfect place to commence Round 2. It was easy to see why the Internet loved this place so much; 20 mostly Polish beers on tap, plus bottles from prestigious breweries like De Molen and Hoppin’ Frog. They evidently take care of their beers too, as the two I had were in excellent condition. Most intriguing was Jan Olbrecht Piwo Grodziskie (3.5%), a heavily carbonated traditional Polish beer brewed with oak-smoked malt, giving a unique taste.
Next up was Omerta, a huge multi-roomed pub with a slightly odd Godfather theme. There were two separate bars, each with their own selection of around a dozen beers. Prices were a little higher than some of their competitors, but the beer on offer was varied and well-kept. Just around the corner, on the main square, I found Nowy Kraftowy. Compared to the other bars, which had been practically empty, this one was packed to the rafters. They evidently get quite a few beer tickers in here (does Untappd count as ticking?) as they offered 150ml samplers at a very reasonable 6 PLN, or about £1.20. I tried Liberty Stout by Browar Widawa (5%), a decent enough effort at an American-style dry stout.
I’d intended to finish up in Strefa Piwa, another bar with good online ratings, before heading off to the Pinball Museum. However, it wasn’t meant to be as I got sidetracked en route and ended up in BeerStreet. Apparently, this bar only opened at the end of May but they seem to have made a promising start. To be honest, it’s worth visiting just for the amazing interior design, a masterclass in fitting as many seats as possible into a small space. Eight beers from the likes of Pinta and Piwojad were on the taps, plus a surprisingly good range of Scotch whiskies. I finished the afternoon with Browar Nook Odzkocznia (4.6%), a pleasant wheat beer with hints of peach and vanilla.
I’m in Kraków for the day, where should I visit? Exploring Kazimierz so thoroughly meant we didn’t get to try out as many bars in the rest of the city, but I can definitely recommend this area as a craft beer destination. Craftownia and BeerStreet were probably my favourites in terms of good beer and a welcoming atmosphere to enjoy them in.
Brewery to look out for? I’m going to go with Browar Brodacz. They’re one of our favourites from previous visits for a reason; they brew fairly simple beers but do so skilfully using high-quality ingredients.