Warming up in Wrocław

First of all, a disclaimer. This trip happened back in September, when bars were still open and flights were still flying. It’s just taken me a while to get around to writing; I don’t seem to have had the same lockdown productivity boost as everyone else! The real reason for my trip to Poland was the Lotny Festiwal Piwa in Zielona Góra (more about that soon…), but before that there was time to squeeze in an evening in Wrocław. Wrocław was one of my favourite cities from our travels, so I was really excited to come back and warm up for the days ahead.

It was already early evening by the time my flight landed, so I quickly dashed to the hostel to drop off my bags. I even put my recent lessons to use and managed to check in entirely in Polish (just about!). Eventually it was time to head out and re-explore the city. By the way, apologies in advance for the awful photography – I promise it was my camera and not the beer…

First up was Marynka, just down the street from my hostel. Poppy found this place the first time we were here, down a little alleyway next door to a pizzeria. It’s a little hidden gem with 10 taps of local and national craft beer. I went for the Browar Rockmill Almond Coffeecat (6.5%), an oatmeal stout with coffee and almonds (as you may have guessed that from the name). It was a perfectly fine beer, offering both of the flavours it promised alongside the smoothness of oatmeal. The best thing about it though was definitely the location.

Kontynuacja is one of my favourite Wrocław drinking venues.

Time was of the essence, so there was just time for one in Marynka before heading off again. Next up was Kontynuacja, whose sister bar we visited during our stay in Katowice. I really like this pub; the vibe is great and the beer selection is even better. Grodziskie, a pale ale made with oak-smoked malt, is one of my favourite styles, but almost impossible to find outside Poland. Luckily, they had one on offer here. Browar PINTA’s Ala Grodziskie (2.6%) was a great example of the genre, crisp and refreshing, but with the hint of smoke that makes this style stand out.

I had only planned to stay for one, but there was another offering I just couldn’t refuse. We were in Riga a couple of years ago when I first came across Ārpus brewery. I’ve tried a few of their beers since, and I genuinely believe they are currently one of the best breweries in Europe, if not the world, at producing hazy pale ales. DDH Hops x Art #04 (7.2%) was no exception. This was a delicious New England IPA, packed full of tropical and citrus flavours and with a pillowy-soft mouthfeel. I could have stayed and drunk it all night, but Wrocław still had more in store, so I headed off.

This time my destination was ul. Świętego Antoniego, a busy little street full of bars, cafes and restaurants. One of these is Szynkarnia, another place we’d visited a year earlier. The front room of this place looks like a normal restaurant, but head through to the back room and you find yourself in a modern craft beer bar with a really interesting selection. So interesting, in fact, that again I couldn’t narrow it down to just one. Instead, I went for two small ones.

A delicious PB&J sour in Szynkarnia.

First up was Maltgarden’s Yellow Appetizer (11.5%), a huge boozy stout made with banana and maple syrup. On their own, these are two flavours I usually enjoy. However, sadly they didn’t really work together too well this time. It wasn’t bad by any means, but not quite up to Maltgarden’s usually exceptional standards. My second choice was another combination of flavours, but this one wasn’t quite as experimental. Peanut butter and jelly are a timeless pairing, and Funky Fluid decided to put them together in a beer: Gelato PB&J (5.5%). Which, as it turns out, was an excellent idea. Both ingredients were perfectly balanced and both came through in just the right amounts.

The evening was getting fairly late by now, but there was still time for a couple more beers. Just down the street from Szynkarnia is the AleBrowar tap room. The bar was popular with the local students, but I managed to find a quiet table and ordered a couple of tasters. Number one, Hula Hop (5.2%), was the brewery’s take on a Belgian witbier. It started off pleasantly enough, but there was just a little too much coriander going on for my liking. I also sampled Hard Bride (9.8%) an American-style barley wine. Just as you’d expect, this was a big malty beast of a beer – I was glad I only ordered a small one!

Sampling some tasters in the AleBrowar taproom.

To be honest, I had planned to go back to the hotel at this point and get some sleep before my train. However, on my walk back I stumbled and fell into one last bar which was just closing up. KRVN isn’t really a craft beer place, but did have a small selection of local brews on offer. The one that caught my eye was Browar Stu Mostów’s Strawberry Milkshake IPA (5.9%), a pale brewed with lactose and plenty of fruit. After a swift half, it was finally time to get to bed. Wrocław – I’ll definitely be back again soon! But first, it was time to see what Zielona Góra had in store…

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