More or less two weeks ago, Wroclaw officialy became European Capital of Culture for 2016 and a huge influx of tourists is expected. Whether this will really be the case is highly doubtful in my opinion, but ECC or not, I have to admit that number of people speaking foreign languages is constantly rising on the streets of Wroclaw. Given that plenty of people come from Western countries, where Slavic culture of drinking vodka is not as popular, as in Poland, they often choose beer as their poison. And I was simply petrified, when I typed phrase ‚beer in Wroclaw’ in google. Those blasphemous lies written there have to be straightened! And such catchy subject is actually best reason to write my first post in English for this blog.
However, if you’re looking for a place to enjoy your average lager next to a football game, this is not an article for you. Here I will mention most, if not all, of Wroclaw’s multitaps and I will try to do that in a fashion I would like to see on other blogs. Because sometimes when I go abroad, I would like to check local craft beer pubs and it’s not always easy to find them. Yes, I know there is ratebeer and other similar websites, but they are often outdated or consist of simple one-liners like ‚great place, nice pub, good beer’. So here you have most up-to-date list of Wroclaw multitaps with short description of each of them.
One more general remark – pubs listed below are not sorted in any order, so don’t think the best ones are at the top and worst one is at the bottom. Even if this is actually the case ;) The order in the rest of article is completely random.
Kontynuacja – so here you will see my honesty, as I am boycotting „Kontynuacja” myself, as I believe the best way to make an opinion about a shop/pub is with my own money. Nevertheless, I must say that it is a top notch pub and here you will learn why.
First of all, this place is interesting, as it is a continuation of Wroclaw’s beer traditions. Hence the name „Kontynuacja”, which means continuation in Polish. So in 19th century in German Breslau there were almost a hundred microbreweries and most of taverns had their own beer made. At that time, a merchant from Nuremberg, Conrad Kissling, who was earlier dealing in cloths with Poland, decided to import Bavarian beer ‚echt Bayrisches bier’ to his newly opened pub. People of Wroclaw instantly fell in love with that beer, as it was brewed according to Reinheitsgebot – Bavarian law of beer purity, while most of beverages served in Wroclaws pubs were of miserable quality and barely qualified as beer. As a sidenote it is worth mentioning that Reinheitsgebot killed various types of beer, which are now reanimated by local breweries. Anwyay – beer from Kissing quickly gained a lot of prestige, almost similar to legendary (back then, not so much now) Piwnica Świdnicka. It was said that on the second day after opening, it was already impossible to find a place at his pub. Kissing was earning money almost exponentially and decided to move to more exclusive part of Breslau (FYI Breslau is German name of Wroclaw) – Koningstrasse, which in German means Kings Road. He opened two breweries near each other and until today over the entrance to apartments at Ofiar Oswiecimskich 15, you can find his name written on a portal. Kissings became famous in Silesia, bought huge mansion in Bagno, opened up horsebuses lines and his grandson took part in failed assassination attempt of Hitler (the very same that movie „Valkyria” was about).
And that’s where the name „Kontynuacja” is from. It is supposed to be continuation of Kissling’s traditions of best beer in Wroclaw, despite not being placed in former Kissling’s brewery, but a few doors down the road, but surely is the biggest multitap in Wroclaw. Right next to it, there are some restaurants serving food and some of them have arrangement with Kontynuacja and you can take beer from pub to restaurant. If you decide to eat outside, don’t be afraid of fucking huge rats running around. They don’t seem to be aggressive ;)
Kontynuacja has two levels, 16 taps and 2 pumps on ground level and couple more in the basement, but if you’re looking for something outside of beer geek world, it will be hard to get it in here. It’s not like you will find more casual fruit stuff like kriek or lampic on everyday basis. You will get plenty of IPA, AIPA, APA, various stouts, even RIS or barley wine from time to time, mostly from Polish craft breweries, so if you’re into that, it is a place for you. If you want to take a girl for a date – not the best idea.
So how come am I boycotting it? Fairly simple – they got involved into politics. And I don’t care about fashion, even if lumberjack suit is a common outfit here. You know, beard, moustache, wifebeater, suspenders, axe… No wait, haven’t seen an axe there. Yet… But I wouldn’t mind that – if you want to dress silly, it’s none of my concern, however Kontynuacja took side in a conflict, which took place like two years ago or so and shouldn’t really be an issue for beer serving pub. The story is – owner of Ciechan brewery, Marek Jakubiak, who is now member of Polish Parliament, clearly attacked gay community. He did that on his own twitter profile, not through official brewery profile. Kontynuacja took a stand on other side, saying that „Ciechan” beer will never be served at their pub. Really funny thing is, it was never served there before :). So after Kontynuacja, as a brand, made their political side so very obvious, I’ve decided not to visit this place anymore. Doesn’t matter, if a beer pub is supporting fascist, nazi, communist, gay, secularist or any other ideology. They should leave it at home. Period.
To sum things up – this is definitely best choice when in comes to craft beer in Wroclaw, as long, as you don’t mind it is clearly lefty when it comes to politics. If you do – there are plenty of places in Wroclaw, where you will get as good beer as in „Kontynuacja”.
Marynka – Marynka is the name of most known Polish hops and a multitap you will not find, unless you are really looking for it. It’s not on the main streets of Old Town, and even if you find proper street and number, you have to go through the labyrinth of doors in order to find Marynka. Once you find it, it’s actually pretty pleasant. Although they offer only eight taps, there is also a fridge filled out with pretty decent content. So if you fail to find anything interesting on taps (which shouldn’t be a case if you are a guest in Poland), you can always get something from a bottle. And there is a kitchen. Well, allegedly there is… On their facebook, there are plenty of pictures of decent food, yet at my table, I didn’t find any menu. It’s a decent, fairly cozy and quite clean place.
4Hops – Relatively new pub with bright future ahead if they can keep up current progress. Their location is horrible, especially for a foreign tourist and you will not get here, unless driven by taxi or wondering around with GPS. Also, don’t expect anyone from local community to guide you, as they will have no idea, where it is. But it surely is worth to find this hidden gem. 16 taps must be second best in Wroclaw, at least this is what ontap.pl is saying and if you have a multitap and you aren’t on ontap, you didn’t do your homework. There is always something fruity on one of taps, at least that’s what bartender said, which is AWESOME. They brag, sometimes they have true pearls there, not only usual Lindemans’ beers. They make events from time to time, where you can get some rewards (t-shirts) or meet guys from Polish breweries. And there is food! I haven’t tried it yet, as always when I’m in 4hops, I am stuffed like turkey on Thanksgiving, but I’ve heard it’s quite good. You can also play some boardgames if you like. Not a bad idea ;)
Actually, the best thing about 4Hops is… its existence. Really! Just two or three years ago there were no more that three multitaps, which was abysmal, seeing that there were far over five hundred new beers on the market in 2015 and in 2016 that number is supposed to reach 2016. Totally different matter is that not all, probably not even half of those premieres are worth tasting, but having a choice is always a great option and 4Hops is giving us 16 new possibilities. Lovely :)
Zakład Usług Piwnych – the name means something like Beer Services Manufactury and it’s placed in the basement of Pasaz Mikolajski. Basement? I would even dare to say dungeons, as it’s fucking dark there. Really, that is the main issue I have with this location – it’s so fucking dim, you can’t even tell proper colour of beer you’re drinking. There are like two or three tiny, tiny windows on the ground level of shadowy street and that is all of natural light you get. Not. Good. Enough. Also, if you’re in main hall, road to a toiled is pretty challenging. Especially if you had couple of beers before. Do not worry though – it’s not a bad place – 12 taps, small fridge, some minor snacks. And a projector with Champions League or other sports events. It’s still not that common among multitaps, so surely worth mentioning.
Pod Latarniami – To be honest, I am not really sure what to write here. On one hand, I should rip the fuck apart this pub, as in comparison with all other multitaps, it looks really blank. On the other hand, for a toursit, who is not an extreme beer geer, it will be a decent place to visit, as location is marvellous. Still, do not believe their facebook, which says „best pub in town”. It’s not. And it’s not even close.
They have so many issues, I don’t even know where to start. One – waitresses. They roam around, but don’t really seem interested in serving you. I was waiting and waiting and waiting and finally decided to go and make an order on my own. Was there plenty of people in pub? Yeah. But, quoting Mr Pink „words ‚too fucking busy’ shouldn’t be in waitresses vocabulary”. Even the bartender, while she was serving me beer, didn’t try to smile. It seems like everyone is working here as a punishment. I may dislike „Kontynuacja” for their political statements, but staff is always helpful and talk to you with a smile on their faces.
Eight taps are also far from impressive and they don’t update their facebook or have a ontap site. So you can’t decide at home ‚Ill go there, because there is XXX beer there’. To find out what’s on their taps, you have to go there. Fucking pathetic. Someone at the management is not aware that we have 2016 already.
In general – only reason to go there is if you want some beer and food and it’s already after midnight. Otherwise – go anywhere else. Seriously.
Targowa – Craft Beer and Food -To tell you the truth when I was going to newly opened Targowa, I was fairly sceptical, due to many negative reviews on their facebook. And I was pleasantly surprised, but first things first. Targowa is short for Hala Targowa, which means Market Hall and is located in the basement of Wroclaw’s historical market hall. It is not in the heart of Old Town, but also in a decent place, which you will pass by at least once when visiting Wroclaw. Actually, it is far better location for a tourist than for a local, but that’s completely irrelevant here. Despite located in the basement, just like Zakład Usług Piwny mentioned couple lines above, its interior is far better designed and – contrary to ZUP – you don’t feel like a prisoner in dungeon.
The kitchen is solid, but not exquisite. But you gotta know I was only checking out beer related snacks, as I am not used to dining in multitaps.Garlic butter was hard and felt like margarine, bread didn’t feel very fresh either, other components were ok with freshly baked bread sticks even qualifying as delicious ;). There is a dozen of taps, but rotation is fairly poor and first three taps are constantly filled with the same beer (Czech lager, Czech weizen and lambic/kriek). Other taps usually contain Polish craft beer and at least one more expensive product, quite often from foreign brewery. Once it was something from Belgium, other time Evil Twin, so a gypsy brewery from USA and recently it is Spanish craft.
Staff is supernice and very pretty. I dare to day, they have the prettiest waitresses in Wroclaw. But you have to remember, and I don’t know why I didn’t mention it before, I never tried to order anything in English. In neither of pubs mentioned in this entry. I base all of my experiences on native language interaction ;) Oh, there are also events in Targowa, but so far they happen only once a month or so, so it is highly unlikely for a tourist to catch one. But if you like good beer and are in Wroclaw, Targowa should be on your itinerary for sure – it is actually much better place for a tourist than a local.
Szynkarnia – So when I was writing about Kontynuacja and their hipstery approach, I had Szynkarnia in my mind, which can be defined as apogee of hipstery. It’s mostly visible in food they offer and their customers base. You want something usual to eat? Bread, cheese, meat? Not here. Here you will get bread baked by blind nouns from flour made from wheat collected only during full moon nights. Or meat from pigs so free, they were quoting Adam Smith, while being slaughtered. Am I overreacting? Only a little. There are a lot of vege-freaks in here and, despite what they claim, they are not the most tolerant people in society.
And it’s quite disappointing, as beer choice here is very good. Twelve taps, two pumps, huge offer of bottles, including world major breweries like To Ol, Brewdog, Mikeller or Amager. And, obviously, very wide selection of Polish craft beer. Not every bartender knows their beer, but you will get answers to your questions if you have time to wait for proper person. If you don’t mind company of some weird people (it’s not like all of their clients are hipsters, but some of them are and somehow they are the easiest ones to memorize), it’s a great place to grab a decent pint.
Lamus – not a best place to come to as a tourist, due to a very shady neighbourhood. In every country in the vicinity of central train station, you can easily get mugged and it is no different in Wroclaw. Had they have a better offer, maybe it would be worth to risk, but 8 taps, dominated by Czech beer is simply not worth it.
Academus – Academus is a definition of average and that’s where I could quit its review. Since it is not only a pub, but also a hostel, it is likely, you will sleep here, but if you want to get really good Polish beer, go to some place from the ones mentioned above. Academus’ offer is classic beer of many countries. You can get German Maisel – classic of hefeweizen, Belgian kriek, UK’s Belhaven, Czech’s Staropramen. The usual suspects. Nothing impressive.
Włodkowica 21 – So here we start with places to avoid. And we start with Wlodkowica 21. Someone may recommend you this place, as it is connected to one of the best known Polish craft breweries Dr Brew, but, as with Dr Brews beers, it is nothing but a hype. Long story short, Dr Brew is paying one of most famous polish beer vlogger to post their reviews and this vlogger openly admitted that when beer is bad, he is not publishing a review. I would call it unethical and am being very generous and nice here, as among more and more beer geeks, an opinion is growing that Dr Brew is brewing very disappointing products and base their fame on couple of decent beers from a few years ago. Ever since, all they do is put shitloads of hops into any style, going into some crazy IBU numbers, which isn’t necessary delicious.
I’ve been here twice – for the first time and for the last time. One – toilet was in so horrible shape, it would be far more hygienic to go outside. It was a fucking disgrace and seemed like noone has been cleaning it for days. And I’ve been there around 7 PM! Two – choice of beers. It is supposed to be a multitap with 12 taps. Sounds ok, but then it turns out that three of them are off. Ok, nine still sounds good. Six of them contains beers from Dr Brew, but three of them are from bottle and one is not connected yet… like Peter Griffin would say WHOA! WHOA! WHOA! Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! So out of 12 taps, you have 5 with beer and two of them are Czech major companies? That is fucking weak, dude. Really. As a customer, I don’t give a flying fuck if you want to promote only your brand out of all (delicious!) Polish craft, but if you do, get some foreign mercenaries. Get Matuska from Czech Republic. Get something interesting from Germany, get something from Ukraine. Jesus H. Christ. Just go somewhere else and skip Włodkowica 21.
Browar Złoty Pies -There is a long story I could tell you about Golden Dog Brewery, but, as a cheeky bastard, I will only do that if you take me for a beer. To a different place :) Golden Dog is a newly opened brewery, which is hardly a multitap. It is suppose to bring back good old times, when every pub had their own beer, completely forgetting that this beer was usually shitty. Let me start with some praises – decor is truly amazing. When I went to take a leak, I felt like I’ve entered toilet heaven. By far the cleanest and classiest places out of all mentioned here, not only when it comes to WCs :) Can you feel the big, fat BUT coming. Yeah, it’s coming and it’s definitely but, not round a nice butt. See, waitresses here are dressed as if someone wanted them to look unattractive. Instead of a cleavage, a necktie??!?! WHAT! THE! FUCK!?! Boobs are cool! When I drink beer, I want to see boobs. It’s genetics!
Ok, you can make me stop thinking about boobs if you give me decent beer or food. You can find the latter in Złoty Pies. Rations are small, but they are second to none. Really. They went towards quality at the expense of quantity. Surely it is better than the other way around, but for average Polish person, prices are a tad too high. But you didn’t come here to eat, did you? And the beer is… Well, it’s not great. In fact it’s at most ok. Of course it’s all about relativity. If you compare it to average Polish bottled beer, you get in supermarket for 0.5€ a bottle, Zloty Pies is offering magnificent beer. But next to real Polish craft beer, it looks like younger (and a bit retarded) brother.
But go and get it yourself. How come am I recommending poor beer? For the interior. Tasting set of their beer costs like 4€. You can find for yourself a curious example how brewery can excel at every other area, except for making a good beverage…
Spiż – I have no idea why, aside for location, anyone would like to drink beer here. You know that soccer or basketball player, who played one decent season, signed a 5-year deal and now everyone sees he overpaid, but manager is praising him, hoping to unload his contract further? I feel it’s the case of Spiż. Yeah, 10-years ago Spiż was making good beer and gained plenty of positive reviews and praises. So instead of further developing their product, they’ve decided to ride the fame-train for as long as possible.
If you’re reading this blog entry, it means you are an aware customer and are looking for something better, something from top shelf. You will not get it here. They have shitty customer service and wretched beer. Avoid, avoid, avoid.
Bierhalle – I could simply copy/paste my Spiż review and it would be quite accurate, as Bierhalle is a carbon copy of Spiż with very similar operating scheme. Open up, make decent beer, get some positive reviews and then try to ride this wave as long as you can. Just go to their website and read about all the awards they got in last three years, when last listed award is from 2010. Yeah, looks like in 21st century they didn’t update their website for three fuckin years! In my book, it’s an instant disqualification. With a gun to my head, I wouldn’t hesitate and say: ‚the bullet please’.
So there you have a short compilation of all major beer places in city center area. I doubt I’ve missed something, but if I did, let me know, will gladly go there and check it out. Cheers!