Published on March 4th, 2020 | by Alastair Gilmour0
Get away with you
Newcastle pub owner Dave Carr has taken time out from trotting the globe to disgorge the contents of his favourite pubs notebooks. He begins with the Balkans and former Yugoslavia
The Old Brewery Yard
Until the collapse of Yugoslavia in the early Nineties, Beogradska Industrija Piva was the biggest producer of beer in the country. Since its closure in 2015, its former grounds are now home to small businesses, and it’s undoubtedly the trendiest area in Belgrade, despite its central location behind the touristy street of Skardalija. Restaurants inspired by the multicultural, artistic, laid-back and casual Kreuzberg district of Berlin include the cosy Berlin Monroe and Basta Craft & Draft as well as wine bars, blues clubs and retailers, such as the excellent YugoVinyl record store. If you need something to soak it all up, it’s also a five-minute wander from the best Pljeskavica (Serbian burgers) in town, at the humble To Je To (That Is It). Don’t forget the Kajmak ( clotted cream cheese).
Strahinjica Bana 44, Belgrade
Probably your first safe shout for a dip into Balkan craft beer. One of the friendliest bars of Belgrade’s bohemian district Dorcul, Krafter has 14 taps stocked exclusively with Serbian beers, with a further 50 internationals in bottle. Look out for beers from Kabinett & Crow Brewery. Nearby watering holes in Dorcul are excellent too, such as Gunners Pub, Leila’s Bar/Vinyl Store and Low Alternative Bar. (Instagram: krafterbar).
Balkanska 13, Belgrade and Subote Vrlica 5, Subotica
The translation “Only Beer” is a good indicator of what to expect in this huge one-room beer hall. Samo Pivo more than satisfies my oddball needs in an Eastern European beer adventure.
Sitting opposite a pizza restaurant in the neighbourhood of Savamala with themes of Russian author Mikhail Bulgakov, the dark entrance of an abandoned shopping mall (complete with smashed-up escalator), opens up to reveal a packed out venue with the biggest selection of beers in Belgrade, including a great house “gypsy” IPA from local brewers Dogma. (Instagram: samo_pivo).
Federal Institute of Globetrotters
Bulevard Despota Stefana
Here’s another quintessentially curious Serbian boozing experience – one of the city’s many “secret bars” located halfway up an unassuming residential block on Bulevard Despota Stefana.
Originating from the anti-Milosevic movements of the 1990s, it’s said that these bars were created for dissidents and conspirators to keep away from the eyes of the Government.
Entrance is a puzzle, just ring some buzzers on the door and hope for the best. “Izvinite” is sorry in Serbian!
BOSNIA & HERZEGOVENA
Brew Imperial Society
Marsala Tita 56, Sarajevo
The beer scene in Bosnia & Herzegovina is pretty poor in comparison with its northern neighbours, but this unique venue on Marshall Tito Street is definitely worth an hour. Renovated and repurposed by locals The Brew Co, the 1913 Romanija Cinema is adding beer to a mix of concerts, cinema and exhibits as it plans to be a venue for educational and cultural events. The IPA is pretty drinkable.
Imaimoze Craft Beer Garden
Gojka Vokovica 4, Mostar
Home of OldbridZ brewery, this no-nonsense brewery tap has six beers complemented by three guests, generally including one from Banja Luka’s Master Craft Brewery (its milk stout is pretty good). Located five minutes from the famous EU-rebuilt version of the 15th century Stari Most, the iconic bridge which was damaged beyond repair in 1993. Meat and cheese boards are pretty good, generally including smoked beef, similar to Bresaola, the Italian air-dried salted beef. The nearby Black Dog has a couple of locally-made beers, and has a wonderful Glaswegian/Bosnian hybrid barman to further confuse you after a few drinks.
Bars in the northern part of the city have a few beery offers, but are a little lacking in personality, being rebuilt in a modern western style after the 1990s conflict. (Instagram: imaimoze)
Dubrovnik Beer Company
Obala Pape Ivana Pavla II 15, Dubrovnik
If you’re after a break from the ubiquitous Ozujsko lager in Dubrovnik, you’ll need to take a ten-minute taxi to the port area of Gruz, where locals are revelling in this new brewery’s four core beers, which offer a lager, a pale ale, a milk stout and an IPA. One guest beer is generally available. For options in the old town, Craft Beer Hamlet & Beer Factory will see you right, but prepare for western prices of 40-50 kuna (£5/£6). (dubrovackapivovara.hr)
PG Akademija Piva
Voted the most boring capital city in Europe (by people that obviously haven’t been to Chisinau, Moldova), Podgorica actually has a fun and vibrant pub scene, with a largely young and liberal new wave of Montenegrins.
You’ll have to venture out for beers more interesting than the native Niksicko pilsner, however, to the huge, slightly corporate Akademija Piva (Beer Academy). The beer, brewed on site, is pretty good and the choice is the best in the region outside Belgrade.
*Dave Carr is managing director of Frank & Bird, which operates Newcastle’s Brandling Villa in South Gosforth and The Punch Bowl Hotel, Jesmond.
Pictured clockwise from top left: The Old Brewery Yard, Belgrade; Krafter, Belgrade; food at Samo Pivo, Subotica; Imaimoze Craft Beer Garden, Mostar; POG Akademija, Podgorica; Gunners Pub, Belgrade; Leila’s Bar/Vinyl Store, Belgrade.
SERBIA: Flights to Belgrade from Luton Airport start from £14.99 one way with Wizz Air.
CROATIA: Departures to Dubrovnik begin in May from Newcastle Airport with Jet 2 from £145rtn.
MONTENEGRO: Flights to Podgorica from Stansted Airport start at £12.99 one way with Ryanair. Manchester flights to Tivat start from £58 one way.