I recently went to Vienna and Bratislava spending a few days in each city. Flew from Cork to Bratislava and bussed directly to Vienna. Spent two full days there seeing the sights and sampling what Vienna had to offer, then took a ferry to Bratislava on the Danube (very pleasant 75 minute trip!) and spent few days in Bratislava before returning home. I took notes on beers I encountered on my travels so here they are for your perusal!
Beers sampled in Vienna:
Die Weisse Weissbier – Had a few bottles in a café/bar in Central Vienna. From the bottle I noted it came from Salzburg. 50 cl screw cap. I see from the net it seems to be a small brewery/restaurant in Salzburg. Really nice weissbier. I assume not a big name by any means but a lovely beer.
Stiegl-Goldbräu – Pretty decent regular lager - even got it in an Irish bar in Central Vienna!! Again from Salzburg, but seems quite a popular brand in the country. Impressive for a regular lager, I felt.
Ottakringer – Largest brewery, I think, in Vienna. Had their regular lager on one occasion. I assume it was the Helles I had as it was in a restaurant and that was the only beer there. Lots of signs of it throughout the city. They also brew a dunkles (dark lager) but unfortunately I did not have same! Again quite good main stream lager – miles better than ours by a long shot!!
Hirter Private Pils – Drank on draught in central Vienna, again in Wind & Mills (not Windmill mind you!) Irish Bar close to where I was staying. Alc 5.4%. Independent brewery. Lovely almost herb/spicy aftertaste. Only had one on two occasions but was very impressed with it.
Gösser Märzen – had one bottle, maybe this was a bit too warm but did not taste great, a bit oversweet for me. Gösser Special is supposed to be very good but maybe on another occasion.
First visit to a brewpub outside of Ireland.
The following beers were on offer:
Chilli Beer - Thankfully only had a 200ml glass – strong chilli/hot aftertaste! Not for me, but glad I tried it.
Märzen – Red Viennese lager - Really very nice drink. I had two half litres of same and found it most pleasant. Also brought home a bottle and shared same with Rebel who concurred with my views!
Dunkles – Prager Dunkles or dark lager as distinct from German Dunkel. Lovely pleasant beer.
Also on the menu were Pale Ale, Helles, Hanf and Rauchbier (unfortunately Rauchbier not available the night I was there). They also had two specials – Indian Pale Ale and Bock.
Unfortunately as I only had one visit I did not get to sample the rest.
Also very good food menu from which I sampled a house special gratin meal – with mixed meats and gnocchi which indeed was very good. Beers served in 200, 300 and 500 ml glasses. Very knowledgeable and helpful staff. All beers about 5-5.2% alc. and costing approx €3.30 per half litre.
I initially struggled with the menu and had deciphered as best I could what I could order only to discover at the back of the menu that there was also a section in English!
Sadly 7Stern is the only brewpub I visited in Vienna but I was most impressed with it.
Beers sampled in Bratislava:
I was told by a few people that the area around Bratislava, in the Carpathian mountains, is mainly a wine-growing area, mainly white wines, and that the beer market has a strong Czech influence. Many of the beers available were either Czech or Slovak and the Slovaks have a reputation for brewing beers of very good quality, which I would agree with based on my experience there. I did not come across any brewpubs - despite Google searches before going - or beers from a small local brewery. Beers were outrageously cheap by our standards varying from barely over one euro to just about two euros in the one-and-only Irish Bar. When Slovakia joins the Euro in 2009 I fear that will change fast!
Zlatý Baant (Golden Pheasant) – Got a bottle in an off-licence some years ago. Really good lager. Sampled again in Bratislava May 2008 – vv. good lager.
Šariš – both lager and dunkles lager ("Tmane Pivo" in Slovakian) which were both very good – the dark lager was possibly a little sweet but very good all the same.
Staropramen – both Lager and Granat. My first time sampling the latter and I was really so impressed with it. Unusually, whilst the local bar served lager in 500 ml glasses, only 400 ml glasses of Granat at the outrageous price of 36 crowns - slightly over Eur 1.10!! Alc. about 5%. Granat is an amber/red beer. I thought it very pleasant in very pleasant glassware. Would love to see it in Ireland.
Kelt - Brewed in Czech Republic by Heineken family, originally as a type of Celtic red beer. Again a bit too sweet for me – drinkable but nothing special.
Topvar Tmavé Pivo – dark lager – again v. good.
Pilsner Urquell – bottle – very very good too.
Other than beer there is a lot to do and see in and around Bratislava with very friendly people in the main and a trip there is strongly recommended.
Discuss this article in the Forums.
Image credits (from top): LOD.sk; TheBeerNut; Antonio Caselli