Eastern European beer has a great tradition; nonetheless, it remains in the shadows of the pedigree of Czech Beer. Nonetheless, beers from the Baltics, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia are all good quality. They combine elements of German, Czech and British brewing traditions to make some lovely brews. The majority of beers from these countries are light ales or lagers or ales, even though there are several strong dark beers too.
Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian Beers
The above three countries make up a great part of the Baltic region; each one offering certain quality beers. The best know Estonian brewer is Saku, with its malty lager, Saku Originaal being its main product. In addition, you have the fabulous dark porter, Saku Tume, with its fantastically rich, bitter taste. The second most famous Estonian brewer is Tartu, which produces several good lager beers and ales, including Tartu Alexander and the A.Le Coq beer series.
Latvia beers are pretty high-quality. They include Aldaris Zelta, a smooth, clean lager beer which rivals a great many lagers around the world. Lacplesis and Cesis beer are excellent too, as are the Tervetes beers.
Lithuania’s beer market is not on par with its Estonian and Latvian counterparts. Nonetheless, it offers certain good quality beers, namely Utenos and Kalnapilis.
Hungarian and Polish Beers
Hungary and Poland are well known for their brewing traditions.
Hungary has a great beer tradition, with brewing going back almost one thousand years. There are four main breweries, all producing fine. The premier beers are Dreher Bak, double bok German-style beer, as well as the microbrewery Ilzer beers.
Poland is particularly famous for some of the best Eastern European beers, or Piwo, normally Pilsners, porters and lagers. The premier Polish brand is Zywiec, with Okocim being a close second. Zywiec beers are clean-tasting lagers, the best one being Zywiec beer with its hoppy, dry hoppy finish and style similar to that of German Pilsners. Should you want something slightly stronger, opt for Okocim Porter. It is 8.1% and is a wonderfully strong winter beer which tastes of coffee and molasses and has an exceedingly malty finish.
Romanian, Croatian and Bulgarian Beers
Despite not having the same traditions as Poland and Hungary, these countries still have novel beers. Romanian beers are like German ones, they most popular one being Ursus, which is available in both dark and blond versions. The dark version has a sweet flavour, tasting of burnt caramel and prunes. Whereas, the blond version is a typical hoppy Pilsner.
Croatian beers are a great deal darker, although Croatia does offer a few lagers too. The leading dark beers are Velebitsko pivo dark and Karlovacko pivo dark. Should you prefer a lighter beer then try the light and refreshing Pan lager.
Bulgaria has only a few beers, of which Shumensko pivo is the leading one. It is exceedingly easy to drink being a light lager.