Polish beer culture has made incredible strides in the last decade, with an explosion of Polish craft breweries and multi-tap bars, and a dramatic increase in the diversity of beers available in both pubs and shops. Today Poland is in the midst of a bona fide craft beer revolution, in which beer is discussed, described and degustated with the same level of snobbery as wine or whisky. That's a huge turnaround from just 2010, when the Polish beer market was monopolised by the bland national lagers Żywiec and Tyskie (basically the Carlsberg and Heineken, or Coors and Bud of PL). These two beers, as well the next half dozen best sellers (including Lech, Okocim, Żubr and Warka), are basically indistinguishable in a blind taste test, and go a long way towards explaining why vodka is so popular in PL. But that's the past. Though international stereotypes still primarily profile Poles as drinkers of vodka and bad beer, Poland is becoming more and more a country of beer connoisseurs, willing to pay 15 or more złoty at the bar for a half-litre of local craft beer that doesn't taste like filtered horse urine.
Below we list the top bars in Kraków for craft beer, but which local brands should you try?
Breweries & Beers from Kraków
Kraków is home to several brew pubs, most notably T.E.A. Time (the British one), Browar Lubicz (the modern one), and Stara Zajezdnia (the enormous one in an old tram depot), but none of their beers enjoy distribution outside their own premises. If you're in a beer shop (like Regionalne Alkohole or Strefa Piwa) or multi-tap bar, keep an eye out for Brokreacja (an award-winning local brewery with their own pub on ul. Starowisłna), Pracownia Piwa (based in Modlnicza near the airport), Browar Twigg (brewed in Nowa Huta, with a pub on ul. Bracka), Browar Stary Kraków (these pioneers of the local craft beer craze are also based in Nowa Huta; their main ale 'Smocza Głowa' is available in Pierwszy Lokal).
Polish Breweries & Beers
There are literally hundreds to choose from these days, but for the top Polish microbreweries with wide national distribution, wet your whistle with beers from Pinta (who have their own pub on Floriańska), Ale Browar, Trzy Kumpli, Artezan and Dr. Brew. If you want to know our personal favourite Polish breweries (though hardly the easiest to find), the current shortlist is Perun, Golem and Roch.
If you're a beer fanatic looking for a specific brew, or just have to know exactly what's on draught in each of Kraków's multi-tap pubs, there's actually a website and app for that: ontap.pl - further proof that Poland's beer culture is headier than ever. Na zdrowie!