Balkans Best Beer

The best thing about the Balkans is the people. I have yet to meet someone who isn’t incredibly welcoming with a genuine desire to show me the best of their country. In the Balkans, a lot that welcome revolves around sampling “the best beer in the world.” Every country has its own “best beer in the world.” The States beer market is quite large so there may be more debate on what exactly is “the best beer in the world,” (it’s Free State Brewing Yakamaniac IPA). Balkan countries have a smaller beer market, therefore there is usually a pretty strong consensus on the “best beer in the world.” I didn’t expect every Balkan country to have its own beer as the countries histories are all so intertwined. It surprised me that each country has its unique beer, but it didn’t surprise me that every light lager tasted approximately the same.

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Backpacking the Balkans: Sofia

Bulgaria is a gem that remains undiscovered by many Americans. The mountains offer prime skiing conditions and the beaches of the Black Sea are the perfect place to relax. The best part about Bulgaria is that it is still relatively cheap compared to the rest of Europe. I only stopped in the capital city, Sofia, and it left me hungry for more. (Quite literally as the food was incredible).

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Backpacking the Balkans: Belgrade

Belgrade rests at the former border between the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires. Thanks to its position, it changed hands regularly and is heavily influenced by both empires. Serbia’s history can be divisive and I will admit I still do not fully understand the Yugoslav wars. I did not learn about the wars in school, only through first hand accounts in my travels. History changes based on who is telling it, and I heard many different variations. In Bosnia, the Serbs were making a land grab. In Kosovo they wanted independence. In Serbia, no one talked about anything but the NATO bombing of 1999. Although the history is hard to get a grasp on, the city itself is not. Belgrade is a very welcoming and friendly city despite its tumultuous past. It is one of those cities where you go for the sites and end up staying for the nightlife.

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Drink in Dubrovnik

Whether you know it as Kings Landing, the casino planet Canto Bight, or simply by it’s name, Dubrovnik, there is a chance you’ve seen photos of this picturesque city. Famous for it’s costal, walled, Old Town, this UNESCO site attracts thousands of visitors a day during the high season. During the high season, the town is bustling. Restaurants are packed and it’s common to see visitors kayaking through the sea to the island of Lokrum right off of Dubrovnik’s coast. We went during the low season and although many shops and restaurants were closed, the city was still exciting and festive.
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Bathing in Beer

Budapest is famous for many things, including its beer and baths. The beer scene features something for everyone, from crushable brews to hoppy crafts, we couldn’t find a beer over about five dollars. For beers, the stand out was Szimpla Kert, a ruin pub in the middle of the city with local and international brews. I discovered a raspberry-mint sour that tasted almost like fernet, and proceeded to drink it the rest of my time in Budapest.

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Drinking through Dublin

Dublin is known for its vibrant pub culture. At the heart of this culture are two things: beer and whisky. Some of the world’s most popular beer and whisky finds its home in Dublin, Jameson Irish Whisky and Guinness. Although Jameson is now distilled elsewhere in Ireland, both alcohols originated in Dublin and have spaces in the city for fans to tour. We did the Guinness tour and Jameson tour on the same day, and were somehow still able to stand after.

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