Krakow brews a beer scene of its own
Rogaczewski is busy setting up his own craft brewery in Krakow and is one of a few young beer makers who conduct tasting courses. Much like the wine-tasting classes that have long been popular around the world, students at his classes are taught how to recognise the smell of a good beer, how to describe its taste and how to pair different types of beers with food. Courses run once or twice a month at various bars around Krakow and attract a diverse audience from hardcore enthusiasts to curious novices. Information about upcoming dates and venues are posted on the Four Sides of Beer website.
In the Omerta pub in the Kazimierz quarter, Rogaczewski’s claim that he can find a beer to suit anyone’s taste – even those who have never enjoyed the taste of beer – seems plausible. The bar has an impressive list of 28 different beers, all served using the traditional taps found in old-fashioned British pubs. Half of the beers on offer are international ales while the others are from Polish brewers, including the imaginatively named light beer Pierwsza Pomoc (First Aid) from the Pinta brewery.
In a sure sign of Krakow’s growing taste for artisan beers, an old tram terminus near the Vistula river in the Kazimierz district has been restored and recently opened as the cavernous 600-seat Stara Zajezdnia restaurant, with its 40m bar rumoured to be the longest in Poland. The size of the restaurant alone suggests a healthy confidence in the market for locally produced beers. Try a pint of dark toffee-scented Stout, brewed by Spiż brewery, whose headquarters is based in nearby Katowice.
While the old tram terminus is new on the scene, CK Browar is Poland’s oldest microbrewery and the only brewery-restaurant in Krakow. Stepping down from the busy city streets into CK’s basement-level space, two large copper vats shine behind the bar. A selection of home-made Polish brews is available, most of which are based on recipes from when Krakow was under the control of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (1790s to 1918). Try the CK Jasne (a pale, wheaty beer) or the CK Dunkel Wiezen, a dark beer with a yeasty flavour. Customers can even order their own 2m-high beer tower complete with tap, to save them from needing refills.