Magyar-made craft beers rule at Budapest’s Legfelsőbb Beeróság
Photo : Hartyányi Norbert - We Love Budapest
13/12/2016, 6:02 PM●4-minute article
Nowadays the word “craft” must be among the top-three most commonly used words in Hungary, but as it turned out that at Dohány Street’s Legfelsőbb Beeróság in downtown Budapest, a lot of people are still surprised by the complexity and taste of artisanal beer. The place has a strict policy of only serving high-quality Hungarian beers, and the huge selection is paired with excellent service.
The name Legfelsőbb Beeróság is a pun on the Hungarian word for Supreme Court, which is “Legfelsőbb Bíróság” – by playing around with the spelling, the pronunciation remains the same. This father-and-sons-operated court of beer (which, funnily enough, has received official letters addressed to the actual court via Facebook) has been operating since April of 2015, but it’s gaining an increasing following as more people come to appreciate its selection of suds. Manager Bence Horváth has long been prepared for this field; he even wrote his thesis on craft beers, or at least their place in the economy. Bence said that they would like to see the Hungarian beer culture catch up with wine and pálinka, so that guests won’t look puzzled by seeing the name Távoli Galaxis (translating to “Distant Galaxy”) among the drinks on a menu – which is why they only have Hungarian craft beers. Currently they are connected with 25 breweries, they have 137 types of beer, and they have ten taps.
The craft-beer revolution has been unfolding for a few years now, but surprisingly, the beers of small breweries only made up 4% of Hungary’s beer consumption in 2015. This industry has potential, as well as room for development, but it will likely never catch up with mass-producing competitors.
What makes Legfelsőbb Beeróság stand out from among all of the similar places is its selection. There’s a description and a little teaser about each beer on the menu, grouped by types, flavors, or by their alcohol content. The favorite occupation of guests driven by a sense of adventure, and others who aren’t sure about what to choose, is to study this reference material that tells us everything we need to know about the beer that we would like to try.
We liked the dark cherry beer of Kapucnis brewery, which is called “Nem vagyok én apáca” (the title of a song from 1970, meaning “I am not a nun”) – we would like to know if the singer of the song, Cini Zalatnay, has the same opinion. Another pleasant but slightly stronger beer is the dark wheat one, which is perfect for colder weather, but one of the very popular IPAs would also be a great choice. People like it because the large amount of hops makes it taste a bit fruity at first, but by the end it’s a little bitter, and it has a bite to it – so it’s a weird beer with a very complex flavor.
As we visited in recent weeks, we were curious about the types of beer they would recommend for dark and rainy fall evenings. Bence Horváth said that around this time of the year, stronger reds and darks are the best to have. The types of beer on tap are continuously changing; there’s always a lager, a flavored option, a stout (dark, coffee-type beer), and the rest usually ranges from IPAs to APAs.
Braver guests can try beers with a 10-12% alcohol content, but as the name of one of these heavyweights (Game Over) tells us, they must be handled with care, so the night won’t end too soon. Regarding the prices, Legfelsőbb Beeróság is slightly cheaper than craft beers at a beer festival – the daily “chef’s choice” starts at 550 forints.
Photo: Norbert Hartyányi/We Love Budapest 14 pictures