Banja Luka is a city that enjoys a drink, be it in party mode or as a means of keeping the conversation going. There are a number of local companies producing top quality beverages, so keep an eye out for these brands when in town. It doesn’t get more local than this.
What started as a hobby has grown into one of the finest wineries in the region. The Jungić Winery is located 15km outside of Banja Luka in Čelinac, and is about as idyllic as a vineyard is going to get. A wide variety of wines are produced, from Cabernet Sauvignon all the way to Chardonnay Pinot Blanc. Tours and tasting sessions at the winery are available, with the former available entirely free of charge (just be sure to organised ahead of time). Jungić also produces a grape brandy, the sort of souvenir you might just be tempted to crack open once you get home.
Nektar beer has been flowing out of the Banjalučka Pivara (Banja Luka Brewery) since 1873, although the ‘Nektar’ name itself is a more modern creation. The red and white logo is ubiquitous on umbrellas and canopies throughout the city, outnumbered only by the number of bottles that come flying out the fridges. Keep an eye out for the dark beer Crni Đorđe, along with the many varieties of radlers.
Everyone and their grandmother seems to make their own rakija in this part of the world, so let it be said that there is no harder market to break into in these parts. But the saying ‘the cream rises to the top’ isn’t baseless, and there is a reason Gazdina is respected as the top tier of the national tipple. The importance of rakija to the national soul influences every bottle that the company produces, from its classic šljivova (plum brandy) all the way to more unusual offerings like dogwood brandy. A souvenir, a drink, a toast, a way of life.
Gorštak Craft Brewery
The craft beer revolution is still in its tentative stages in Banja Luka, but more and more independent beers are nudging their way into the market. Gorštak is arguably the most popular, with seven beers available in many pubs and bars throughout town. The hoppy wheat variety is our favourite, but you be your own judge.