Coming to Bulgaria can be a bit of a disappointment if you enjoy drinking real ales in the UK. The commonly available lagers are thin, insipid and mostly give me a headache. You can imagine my delight then when I discovered that Bulgaria has a thriving craft beer movement, mostly comprising microbreweries. I discovered this when a film crew came to the village to shoot a commercial for a new beer from one of the bigger breweries, and English style IPA beers. By way of a present, they brought me a selection of craft beers to try, so I thought I’d write a bit about what I thought of them, and where you can buy them if your interested. Enjoy!
Just in the order we tried them, here are our (brief) notes!
Glarus pale ale, 4.2%
A deliciously light pale ale that, for me, perfectly capturers this style of beer.Slightly sweet with just the right touch of bitterness
Rhombus Aloha 6%
A slightly flowery flavour, but not overpowering. A thicker, deeper flavour reflecting the higher ABV. For me, not something you’d want to drink a lot of, but very tasty
I really enjoy this style of floral-tasting beers, so I loved this, but Julie wasn’t so keen. For me, a perfect summer drink. It’s unfiltered, so had some sediment.
Glarus porter 5%
A heavy winter beer with a real burnt malt kick to it. Julie says she can imagine cosying up to a fire in winter with this one.
Whit Stork, in collaboration with Hop Hooligans, Caravanserai 13%
It comes in a can, so initial expectations were not good, but when you pour in into a glass and the aroma hits, a thick, sweet smell, and you look again at the 13% and think, ok, this could be good. Then I took my first sip. Wow. The most complex flavoured beer I’ve tried here, sweet, slightly bitter aftertaste with smooth bitter chocolate through the middle. It was so thick you could almost chew it. Very similar to English Christmas ales. Julie reckoned it was too overpowering, but may try some with a splash of lemonade, but I never gave her the chance to desecrate this one.
About the breweries
Most of the breweries don’t have much information on their webpages. They mainly promote through Facebook and Instagram. These links are on their websites, for more information, and to get in touch with them!
Glarus: Apparently one of the first independent micro-breweries in Bulgaria, located just outside Varna
White Stork: Owning no actual equipment, they travel about brewing up some really interesting beers, but they all seem to be short runs, so get them while you can!
Rhombus (Bulgarian language site only): A small family brewery, operating since 2012 and based in Pazardzhik, between Sofia and Plovdiv.
Aylyak a word meaning “carefree” in Bulgarian. Apparently they use “cryogenic therapy” to achieve this. Go figure.
There are lots of other micro- breweries here, I’ve just listed the ones I’ve tried.
Where to buy these beers
I was surprised to find that there are actually quite a few brew shops around Bulgaria, mainly concentrated in the major cities of Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna, Burgas and Veliko Turnovo. They are too many to list here, but I can recommend the site OnTap, who keep a seemingly up-to-date list of what’s on sale, where, around Bulgaria. Useful for finding out if there are shops near to you.
Some of the websites list where their beers are on sale, but many do not. Some of the bigger breweries, like Glarus, also sell through some of the major supermarket chains but hey, lets support the smaller shops!
Fionally, if you want to keep up to date with the beers scene in Bulgaria, I can recommend inhopswetrust.tumblr.com,