Beer and the Black Madonna

To be honest, we only chose to stop off for a couple of nights in Częstochowa to break up the journey between Łódź and Kraków. We hadn’t realised until we arrived that the town is actually a site of pilgrimage for around 5 million Catholics annually. Believers come from around the world to see the Black Madonna, an icon dating back to at least the 14th century. We arrived with a different but no less noble mission: to see what the city offered to craft beer lovers.

Many of Częstochowa’s charms lie along the main boulevard which leads towards the Jasna Góra monastery. This seemed like an obvious starting point, so after lining our stomachs we set off exploring. We’d not gone far before we came across a little alleyway which seemed to have plenty of people coming in and out. Ever the adventurers, we decided to have a look for ourselves. What we found was a courtyard filled with small bars, mainly catering to the younger crowd on a Friday evening.

This alleyway lined with bars was a little livelier on a Friday night.

Mikro Klimat had a few seats left outside so we went and found a table. Although many patrons were drinking cocktails or shots, there was also a surprisingly extensive bottled beer menu. As always, I took the opportunity to try out a couple of new breweries. First up was AleBrowar King Of Hop (5%), a very competent APA with a nice balance of hops. Czarny Kot’s Rudy Kot (7%) didn’t quite hit the same heights, the boozy sweetness overpowering any other flavours.

Having kept ourselves entertained by trying in vain to name the world’s 50 largest cities (spoiler alert: China has a lot of big places you never knew existed), we decided to move on. A couple of alleyways further down we found one of the few bars we’d actually heard of beforehand. Multitap Piwiarnia was billed as the go-to place for beer in Częstochowa, with its 12 taps and more than 100 bottles. It also provided a comfortable setting to enjoy them, with a decent beer garden outdoors too.

Multitap Piwiarnia offered a comfortable environment to enjoy some excellent craft beers.

It was nice to see breweries from all over Poland represented; highlights included the exquisite Sourtime Mango Imperial IPA (8.5%) from Warsaw’s Maryensztadt and Unga Bunga (4.7%) DDH pale ale from Toruń’s Deer Bear. Meanwhile, Poppy found a honey beer that she stuck with for the rest of our visit. Unfortunately, both of us were enjoying ourselves so much we forgot to make a note of its name!

By now, it was getting late but we had time for one more stop before home. A quick Google search brought up the wonderfully-named Ministry of Herring and Vodka (Ministerstwo Śledzia i Wódki). As the name suggested, grain spirits and pickled fish were the main attractions, but we actually tried neither! There was a small selection of bottled Browar Zamkowy Cieszyn beers on offer that I sampled, while Poppy ended the night with a couple of whisky sours.

Browar CzenstochoviA also features a restaurant, hotel and beer spa alongside their microbrewery.

Saturday was spent exploring the town and visiting the Black Madonna, but there was one more venue for us to visit before heading to Kraków on Sunday. Fortunately, Browar CzenstochoviA just happened to be handily located on our walk to Stradom train station. They brew all their beers in small batches, so we weren’t sure which ones we’d get to try. It turned out there were three available on this very quiet Sunday afternoon (we were the only customers); the standard house lager Jasne (5.1%), a special edition 15-ingredient lager Urodzinowa 15tka (5%), and the Tropical Witbier with added mango (5%). All in all, a tasty end to an enjoyable few days in Częstochowa.

I’m in Częstochowa for the day, where should I visit? In terms of craft beer, Multitap Piwiarnia was easily the best choice. The 12 draught beers catered for all styles and were in excellent condition, while the bottle selection was very impressive too.

Brewery to look out for? We first came across Deer Bear a couple of years ago when we visited Bydgoszcz. They showed promise back then, but they seem to have really honed their craft in the meantime. Definitely one to look out for during the rest of our Poland trip.

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