So far during this trip, we’ve mainly taken things at a fairly leisurely pace. Most places we’ve tried to stay in for at least 3 nights, plenty of time to do some sightseeing and then explore the beer scene. When it came to Trenčín, our first stop in Slovakia, however, there was no accommodation that even came close to our £30 per night target. Well, drastic times call for drastic measures. We did the previously unthinkable and booked our first ever single-night stay.
Not one to shirk a challenge, I was determined that even with such a limited time in town I could write an article for the blog. With time at such a premium, forward planning was the name of the game. The bus journey from Brno was spent scouring the web to find the best beer bars Trenčín had to offer; perhaps luckily given our short time frame, it didn’t seem like there were too many places to squeeze in. Nevertheless, there were two or three places with good reviews that we were excited to try out.
The bus arrived into Slovakia about half an hour late, our precious time already ticking away. We stopped at the Tourist Information Centre en route from the bus station to the hotel, picking up a map so we could tick off some sights too as we wandered around the pubs. We stopped by the room, only really planning to drop off our bags. But then the heavens opened, a torrential downpour that lasted over two hours. Neither of us fancied getting too wet, so we sat it out and waited for a break in the rain.
Eventually around 5 o’clock it started to dry up a little, so we bravely ventured out. Our first port of call was Sokolovňa Pub, in the northern end of town near the football stadium. On this rainy Friday evening it was fairly quiet, so we quickly found a table. From my seat near the door there was a great view of the imposing and impressive Trenčín Castle, which sits high above the town and dates back to Roman times. Not a bad sight to enjoy with a pint, and I must say the beer was pretty good too.
Slips of paper on the tables listed the nine beers available. These were mostly Czech and Slovak, but there were also representatives from Austria and the United States. I was pretty keen to see the back of lager after three weeks in the Czech Republic, so I went for a style we’d not seen since Estonia – a black IPA. Mazák Letní Noc (4.7%) had the classic BIPA combination of hop bitterness and roasted malty notes. My only complaint would be that it was a little thin, but having had nothing like it for such a long time, it was a most welcome change nonetheless. Poppy also went for a change of style; Beervana Weizept was a 4.9% hefeweizen with plenty of yeasty, banana-y flavours.
By now dinnertime was looming so we wandered back into the Old Town. We’d read online that Lanius brewpub on the main square had decent food and good beer, a winning combination in my book. The restaurant itself had a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere, even on a Friday night. The food was typical tasty Slovak fare, pork cooked myriad ways served with bread, pickles and mustard. A quick flick through the beer list however hinted that this was no ordinary brewpub. Alongside the lagers, there were various styles from around Europe: classic British-style ales, Belgian witbiers and German goses.
We opted for the 4-beer tasting flight, at a pretty reasonable €3.50. Poppy chose the Amber Ale (5.1%) and the Honey & Ginger Hefeweizen (5%), while my two were the Cassis Saison (4.8%) and Sorachi Summer Ale (4.5%). The amber was decent enough, while the wheat beer was nice, but maybe a little heavy on the ginger. I was most excited for the saison, but while the blackcurrants gave the beer a nice tartness it was a little too sour and not yeasty enough to really be a saison. For me, the best was easily the summer ale. Sorachi hops with their intense lemon flavours aren’t for everyone, but they worked really well in this light, refreshing beer.
A couple of doors down we spotted .KUKI, a sort of late-night coffee shop. It seemed trendy and the menu promised bottled beers so we decided to pop in. Unfortunately, that evening the only beer left was the Wywar Jozef II lager (3.8%) on draught. I’d had some of their beers before when in Bratislava last year so was looking forward to it, even if I had only just escaped from lager! This one was OK, drinkable but not exciting enough to make you want a second one.
After paying up, it was time to head down the palm tree-lined main street to the last pub of the night. Nowhere we’d been in Trenčín so far had been too busy, so we were hoping for more of the same. However, on arriving at Mestský Hostinec (“Town Tavern”) we worked out why everywhere else was so empty. If felt like half the town had descended on this one pub; all the tables inside and out were taken and the waitresses seemed rushed off their feet.
We managed to squeeze ourselves into the last remaining spots by the bar and had a look up at the beer board. There were 8 or so beers on offer, mainly local but with a couple of Czech beers too. About half were lagers, but probably the most interesting was the Marshmallow IPA (4%) from Žiwell Brewery in the nearby town of Piešťany, which did indeed taste just like marshmallows. As we drained the last sips from our glasses, our single night in Trenčín came to an end. The sightseeing will have to wait until next time!
I’m in Trenčín for the day, where should I visit? For the beer range, you can’t go wrong with Sokolovňa Pub. They have 8 or 9 local and international craft beers that change regularly, and the prices are very fair too. The food and beer at Lanius were very nice too though, so if you’ve got time then definitely try and visit both.
Brewery to look out for? Our next stop is Piešťany, so we’ll definitely be looking out for the Žiwell brewery. Their Marshmallow IPA was surprisingly good – well balanced and not too sweet despite the name.