Craft Beer in Budapest – The Hedon Bazilika Taproom
The Hungarian Beer Scene
Until recently, Hungary was suffering from a pretty meh beer scene, with the the market being completely off balance with the big players knocking out their generic mega factory lagers: Ászok, Soproni and Dreher to name but a few. In fact, last year these factory beers saw around 96% of all beers sales, leaving a measly 4% for importers and craft breweries. But from the small beginnings of Hungary’s first craft brewing beer festival in 2011, along with the countries first craft brewery opening the same year, the production is only on the up and up as demand had massively increased for the genuine article. With the craft brewing industry moving from tiny one man outfits to serious big bottle brewing, we’re living in the age of a renaissance of the Hungarian craft beer industry. Let the good times roll.
Bud Spencer Meet Helmut
A relatively new player to the market is the Hedon Craft Brewery. The name comes from “hedonist”, a person who believes that the pursuit of pleasure is the most important thing in life. Sounds about right. Hailing from the shores of Balatonvilágos, they were established in 2014. The names of their beers and the labeling are certainly both striking and amusing. One of their biggest sellers bears the named“Charlie Firpo”. Yep, that’s the name of Bud Spencer’s character in the film “Odds and Evens”. The label of “Credo” has a minimalist design featuring a smoking pipe. It certainly resembles the Dadaist painting “Ceci c’est ne pas une pipe” by René Magritte. And then there’s Helmut, a character on the label who resembles your typical East German playboy. Don’t ask!
Budapest Craft Beer Has Arrived
From starting small, through trial and error, along with the advice of numerous brew-masters, they have grown to the point where their brewery facility now knockouts around 800 bottles per hour. That’s a lot of micro-brew beer. So after providing outlets, both big and small, throughout Hungary, they’ve decided to take the plunge. And to that end, they decided to open a craft beer restaurant in the heart of downtown Budapest.
You can find The Hedon Bazilika Taproom in the heart of the V District. A cavernous interior with a striking back wall or rather “beer wall”, as they refer to it. Essentially, it’s a long line of beer taps with a sign above each. Because Hedon take their beer very seriously, they want customers to sample as many varieties a possible. So, as opposed to a one glass at the time setup (you’ll be lying on the floor before you got a quarter way through their selection), their system is something different and certainly a first for the bar trade here.
How It Works
On entering, you pay a small deposit and pick up a smart card. Then make your way to the “beer wall”. Study the titles and ingredients, process and taste of each craft beer by scrolling through an interactive screen. Slot in the card and choose the poison of choice. Grab a glass and pull on the tap handle. (Yes, sorry to say, it’s self service!). So, if you just want a teeny tiny taste, a sample across the board, then that’s all down to you. Your smart card debits any amount of beer, no matter how large or small.
Pizza With A View
There’s a small but tasty menu, ranging from pizza to salads, for the peckish amongst you. Of course you can buy the bottled nectar to go. And they even have some merch for sale. And there’s a roof terrace with amazing views. But that’s really just an aside. Take a look through their extensive and varied craft brew selection with not just their own beers, but also those from other Central European craft brewers (along with a couple of ciders and wines). And it becomes clear that the Hedon Brewing Company, with it’s love and devotion to all thing craft beer related, is a serious player that’s here to stay.
Oh…and remember that some still say that you don’t say “Cheers” and clink glasses in Hungary. Especially with beers. This goes back to the 1848 defeat of Hungary, which the Austrians celebrated in Vienna by toasting and clinking glasses of beer. The Hungarians vowed not to say cheers with beer for the next 150 years. Though simple maths says that the vow is now null and void, Hungarians do like to persist with it. So just don’t do it. Unless, of course, you’re Austrian!
Hedon Bazilika Taproom
Address: Sas Utca 25, 1051 Budapest
Opening hours: 7 days / week 12;00 – 23;00
Hedon Craft Brewery Website
For Craft Beer in Krakow HERE
And Czech Beer HERE