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BrewDog opens their first bar in Budapest (Warning: may contain traces of punk)

Szekeres Máté 11.15 Brewdog-9
Craft beers, neon lights, above average prices - BrewDog opened their first bar in Eastern Europe. We went to the grand opening to see what it's all about.

If the globalisation of the craft-beer movement could be blamed on anyone in particular, the Scottish BrewDog would be a prime suspect. The Aberdeen brewing company always tried to emphasize their punk ethics, but in the meantime, they grew into an international chain with more than hundred-thousand shareholders. After opening sixty-something bars worldwide, they finally arrived in Hungary, positioning themselves in a way that is also a recognition of the local craft-beer scene.

When you step into BrewDog's Budapest establishment you are welcomed by the caged red neon lights, graffitis, and industrial design familiar from the chain's London pubs, complete with the cinema-billboard drinks menu hanging above the lengthy bar. As of now, the faucets in the bathroom are still falling apart when you touch them, but the overall vibe is mostly at the same level as in their other bars.

But let's get over the compulsory things first:

  • Could you say it's expensive? Yes.
  • Is the pricing similar to that of the Hungarian craft-beer places? Well, prices are a little higher. Earlier there were promises of BrewDog's prices not exceeding the local craft beer standard, but one should add a couple of Euros to the prices of the competition - expect a beer to be somewhere between 1500 and 2000 Forints, roughly €5-€8. But with this company that is not so surprising.
  • What do we get for that? The well-known array of BrewDog beers that are already sold in Hungary, although now they are all available at the same place. Besides the lighter and heavier IPA-s, stouts, and pale-ales, there will be seasonal small-batch brews that will hit the taps the same time as they do in the UK. Also, the bar features guest-beers from Hungarian craft breweries, the opening night saw the debut of beers from Mad Scientist, Balkezes, Monyó and Tuffbuzz breweries.

Just like the BrewDogs abroad, the bar in Budapest also has a kitchen that mostly doesn't stray far from the burger-hot dog-chicken wings triangle. There is a slight nod towards Hungarian fast-food tradition as well since the ancestor of the mixed pickle burgers on their menu was a legendary staple in Budapest nightlife during the 80s and 90s. The food we tried was rather mediocre, but that could be chalked up to the kitchen's current work-in-progress nature due to the fact it was the first night, so it might be unwise to jump to conclusions based on that experience alone.

Graeme Hamilton, representative of the Scottish brewery attended the pub's first night as well. He said that their intention is not to compete with the local craft beer bars (as there are many others in the area), but to create a common platform, and to support Hungarian brewers.

The opening of the Budapest BrewDog bar could also mean a stronger presence of the brewery at Budapest craft-beer festivals and an opportunity for local brewers to gain exposure at some other venues of the international chain. All in all, we got a new, somewhat expensive, somewhat underground, somewhat posh place downtown, where it'll be worth to pop in every now and then to try some specialities.