Keeping it real … Real Ale
As mentioned in my post about Mikkeller bar I was on a Baltic cruise with work this summer (Soooo late with these posts!) and my next beer destination after Copenhagen was Gdansk.
I knew nothing about Gdansk other than it was in Poland and to be honest my knowledge of Polish beers doesn’t go too much further than the strong stuff you can buy in Leyton with the bear on the can! My only other previous experience with Polish lager was many many years ago when Wetherspoons used to sell Zywiec for 99p on a Monday night and that didn’t end too well!
Firstly it has to be said how taken back I was by Gdansk, it was lovely! I was completely overwhelmed at what a interesting and cool place it was. We were very lucky as the time we visited was also the same time as they had the St Dominic’s Fair, a three week long yearly crafts festival that took over the town and had rows and rows of market stalls selling anything from home made clothes to the biggest bread I have ever seen and even… you can sense it coming, local beer! I didn’t get a chance to take any snaps at the time as I was actually on a walking tour but I did quickly sample a beer that I cannot remember the name but it was good (you’ll just have to take my word on it!).
I did however get a chance later to really exseprience their beers and had enough free time to sample two brewpubs!
This huge brewery/hotel claims to have the best beer in Poland, a strong claim and it was certainly very nice dark beer that I had called Old Gdansk but without a long time researching Poland and it’s beers I cannot confirm this claim!
On the outside this is a huge square building with not a lot of windows, you walk a few steps down into the beer halls as you walk down through the door. It’s a very German beer hall feel here with long tables and rows of chairs in front of a huge long brass bar and behind it/to the side of it you can see all the brewing equipment on show behind glass displays.
The building itself has been around since 1690 and was originally a granary but later became a drying house, property of the government, customs office and also stored freights. The building has always been considered to be lucky as in the second world war unlike all its surroundings it was never destroyed!
At the time I was there they only had three beers on, Brovarnia’s Gold (Hells lager), Old Gdansk Dark Beer and Wheat Beer but looking at their news letter and photos they do regional specials too, including Smoked beers, Christmas Chocolate beers and the AIPA which according to their news letter is the highest content of hop in the history of brewing… using 5 hops, Citra, Simcoe, Chinook, Tomahawk and Willamette?! I tried Old Gdansk which was a very nice deep caramel biscuit taste with a chocolate finish.
When the Spanish football team won UEFA Euro 2012 they stayed at the hotel attached to the brewery called Hotel Gdansk… Who knows they may have even provided them with the beer which fueled them onto victory!
Although there is no historic brewing reason to why there is a road named “beer street” it does happen to be home to a new brewpub called Browar Piwna. Browar Piwna has a more family run, independent feel compared to the big shiny Brovarnia and instead of the brewing equipment being on display behind glass walls the Mash Tun is slap bang in the middle of the pub for all to see and smell! Again the the running theme seems to be three core beers of light, dark and wheat but they also had a special on too, which brilliantly says on the menu ‘costs whatever the brewer feels like at the time’!
The special while I was here was a very English tasting bitter which was lovely… So lovely I order a ltr of it! They seem to be adventurous in their brewing though as they had a long list of previously brewed beers including Milk Stouts, Alt, Baltic Porters and even one called Saucy Troll!
Walking into this brewpub couldn’t be any more different to the previous, as you walk through the doors you eyes have to adapt to the neon lights surrounding the bar and there a few tables with chairs around them (most of the seating is outside). On the walk to the toilet you pass a double fridge too where there is Browar Piwna merchandise and bottles for take away orders.
There is more to the Polish beer scene to my quick couple of hours visit (as the many craft market stalls proved in the St Dominic’s Fair) but on a quick visit I can certainly say both brewpubs are worth a visit if you happen to find yourself in Gdansk! It was interesting to exseprience the two very different drinking establishments. If I had to pick which beer I preferred I would say the English style bitter from Browar Piwna but my drinking companion preferred the Old Gdansk from Brovarnia.
Gdansk is a beautiful city to visit and they like their beer, I will end this post on the below photo taken from inside Gdansk Town Hall… Proof to how much the Polish enjoy a good tipple is in the good old days if you wanted to be part of the guild you had to down beer in one go out of one of these bad boys……