Budapest: the jewel of the Danube and a city well known for its beautiful architecture and relaxing thermal baths…but does it have good beer? It’s somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for a long time, not for a beer jaunt but just to experience the city, but once everything was booked and arranged, I was pleasantly surprised just how many decent craft beer bars there appeared to be in the city. Over the course of four days we managed to visit quite a few of them. Here’s a little look at them.
Csak a jó sör
Translating to ‘Only Good Beer’, this place lives up to its name. It’s predominately a bottle shop and as a result of this, it also closes early (9pm) and isn’t open at all on Sundays. But it’s definitely one to make sure you can visit. There’s six beers on draught – during our first visit, three were Hungarian, one American, one a German/Polish collab and the other was Mikkeller’s Beer Geek Cocoa Shake which cost 1200 Hungarian Forints for a small (about £3.30).
The shelves are filled with good beer, predominately from across Europe including Belgium, Germany, Denmark and Hungary. The UK was represented by Brewdog and Fuller’s London Pride, so maybe not the best ad for British beer – but we noticed Brewdog on at A LOT of places in the city so they must be a favourite over there.
It’s not a huge space but it’s comfortable and relaxed and we found ourselves visiting a couple of times.
Kertész u. 42-44 (Jewish Quarter) – csakajosor.hu (Hungarian)
Owned by the same people as Csak a jó sör, this bar is located just around the corner from the bottle shop and has more space as well as later opening hours although it still retains a decent bottle selection. They have eight beers on draught and usually half of these are Hungarian with two of Hungary’s best breweries (Brew Your Mind and Mad Scientist) usually on offer alongside the likes of To Ol, Evil Twin and Brewdog.
It’s very popular with groups of locals and can get quite lively during the weekend evenings, although it’s more relaxed during the day.
Most of the bottles are kept in locked fridges in the bar and the beers are also available for takeaway.
Definitely one to put on your list if you’re visiting Budapest.
Akácfa u. 38 (Jewish Quarter) – facebook.com/hopaholicpub
Whiskers Cat Pub
This one definitely wasn’t chosen for its craft credentials but for the novelty of the feline occupants.
It’s quite an odd set-up – there’s a large room with a bar on the ground floor which looks like a restaurant and up a flight of stairs there’s a smaller space which is where the cats live. A bit of fun for cat lovers but not worth seeking out if you’re on the hunt for decent beer.
Semmelweis u. 17 – facebook.com/whiskerscatpub
If you’re looking up things to do in Budapest, visit a ruin pub always comes up and Szimpla Kert is the most famous of these. It is a fun place to visit – it’s a huge, sprawling venue with different rooms and areas, with a quirky, mis-matched decor throughout and a number of bars across the site.
There’s also a substantial outdoor space which includes a Trabi converted into a table and chairs (most visitors seem to want to just take pictures of it instead of sitting in it which seems a waste).
The beer choice isn’t great – I had a bottle of Távoli Galaxis by RothBeer which was just fine – but it’s worth visiting just for a wander through all the different areas.
Kazinczy u. 14 (Jewish Quarter) – www.szimpla.hu/
Neked Csak Dezső
This was a nice little spot. It felt comfortable and relaxing but sadly, there wasn’t that much in the way of beer to keep us there for more than one. I went for Horizont – Gentle Bastard IPA which was OK but nothing to write home about.
Dohány u. 7 (near Astoria Metro stop) – facebook.com/nekedcsakdezso/
Located across the road from Neked Csak Dezso, this place seems to be extremely popular. It was packed when we arrived but we did manage to squeeze onto a table with another couple on the mezzanine floor. There’s ten beers on draught (quite possibly all, or mainly at least, Hungarian) and a very substantial Hungarian-only bottle list. Worth a visit, and it has a small food menu too.
Dohány u. 20 – beerosag.hu
A dark and cosy venue that doesn’t have the largest choice of beer, but it has a good vibe and is worth popping into. The beer on draught was all Hungarian and there’s some bottles available too.
The friendly bar staff were happy to share advice on the beer selection and there’s also a small but well-thought out food menu – it’s more small plates and snacks rather than anything substantial but the cheese on toast was spot on.
Dob u. 31 (Jewish Quarter) – www.facebook.com/feketekutja/
One of my favourite craft beer bars in Budapest. It’s another basement bar and it does seem to attract more foreigners than some of the others, but there’s a couple of decent options on draught from Hungary. It appears that there’s often a Brewdog beer on draught too if that’s your thing (and the Wifi password is Hardcore IPA…) but it’s worth checking out the bottles.
Although there’s a list painted on one of the walls, the chap behind the bar advised us that it is quite out of date so your best option is just to look in the fridges.
It does advertise itself as a craft beer and tapas bar, but we didn’t see any food being served during our visit. Comfortable, a range of seating (from bar stools to tables for small groups) and some decent music at a good volume.
Holló u. 12-14 (Jewish Quarter) – facebook.com/lehuto.kezmuvessorozo/
Bölcső Bar & Food
This is quite a way out compared to other bars we visited and was on the Buda side (we popped over after visiting Gellert Baths and the Citadella). It felt much more like a neighbourhood pub than anywhere else we visited – complete with a dog. There’s a food menu mainly of burgers – the veggie option is a melted camembert with carmelised red onions on a bun, delicious but probably not something you should eat too often!
Couple of decent Hungarian beers on draught – worth a visit if you’re in the area but probably not one to trek out especially for.
Lágymányosi u. 19 (Buda) – facebook.com/bolcsobar
Jónás Craft Beer House
This was my least favourite place we visited in Budapest as it felt quite soulless and like it was the type of place that’s just jumping on the craft beer bandwagon. It’s in a modern, glass building named The Balna (which means The Whale) next to the river which is also home to shops and some other food and drink places, and the bar itself has an industrial design throughout which looks just a bit too polished.
There is a little mezzanine floor which is a nice feature and a good way of utilising the space.
The beer itself wasn’t too exciting – the board behind the bar doesn’t give too much information so I ended up accidentally picking a lager which wasn’t great (probably my own fault, I should’ve asked the staff), and it’s not somewhere I’d rush back to.
Fővám tér 11 – facebook.com/jonaskezmuvessorhaz
On the same road as Csak a jó sör, this felt more like a food orientated place as it was the only place we visited where we were seated and had a menu brought to us. Beers are on a board above the bar and on a wall on the second floor (which is where we were seated) so we did find ourselves having to get up to check the beer range when we would’ve preferred to have just gone to the bar and ordered.
Quite a cosy spot (lots of fairy lights brightened it up) and a few Hungarian craft beers on draught. It also was showing the Super Bowl that evening – not sure if this was a one-off or if it shows sport more regularly.
Kertész u. 33 (Jewish Quarter) – kandallopub.hu/en/
Hops Beer Bar
A very small beer bar just around the corner from Szimpla Kert, Hops Beer Bar did feel a bit claustrophobic in the back room with the tables very close together and no natural light, but that’s personal preference.
The walls are decorated with beer mats and there are kegs and beer boxes scattered around (not sure if decor or a shortage of space) plus a TV showing European football (think it was La Liga) with no sound on.
The draught selection had some Hungarian beers but it wasn’t just local options – I went for Pohjala – and there’s an an OK bottle selection (although there was pretty much an entire fridge of Brewdog) and it seems to focus more widely on European beer rather than just options from Hungary.
Wesselényi u. 13 (Jewish Quarter) – facebook.com/hopsbeerbar
A venue operated by Monyo Brewing Co, Monyo Cafe is located next to Kalvin ter Metro stop and has six Hungarian craft beers on draught – mainly from Monyo. My favourite part of the venue was the bar stools – they’re swings!
However, I’m less keen on the plastic-covered outdoor bit which does look a bit naff.
Kálvin tér 7 – facebook.com/MONYOCAFE/
We’d found an address for a bar that seemed to have closed but we wandered over to check it out as it was round the corner from our hotel, and we were happy to find that there was indeed a craft beer bar there. Although it’s a basement, it’s a deceptively large venue as it seems to keep going and has plenty of seating.
The bar man was particularly helpful and keen to help us find something we’d like. I went for a mint chocolate stout named Esthanjnal which was something a bit different with just the right amount of mint as not to overpower. Most of the beer on draught came from brewery Szent András Sörfőzde – I’m not sure if the bar is linked to the brewery. Nice, comfortable spot and worth hunting out.
Hunyadi tér 11 – facebook.com/ogrebacsisorozo/