Wroclaw is the largest city in Western Poland and probably one of the best places most people haven't heard of. The city itself is home to over 600,000 people and includes a very large student population. German, until the end of the Second World War, it was the centre of a prolonged and ferocious conflict known as the Battle of Breslau. Anyone interested in learning more about that should read Richard Hargreaves excellent book on the subject.
However, happily, today's Wroclaw is very much alive and thriving. Thriving with the craft beer bug, no less. Ha, I thought that would get your attention. Culture is all very well, if you like that sort of thing, but what CAMRA types like best is throwing copious amounts of alcohol down their glugholes. Wine, whisky, cider: it really doesn't matter too much. Ideally, though, of course it's beer. And that includes foreign muck as well. It may not be cricket and all that, but some of this Johnny Foreigner stuff isn't half bad.
Which brings us nicely back to Wroclaw. Truly foreign, they don't use the Euro but have their own currency, the Zloty, instead. Who knew? Once you realise that one is only worth about 20p,
getting pissed, I mean
immersing yourself in the local culture, becomes an even more
attractive prospect. There were a few tricks of the trade to learn,
though. Large measures were often priced at, say, a seemingly
reasonable 13zl but a small measure would cost you 11zl. This seemed
to be most common in the centre outlets and the differential was
greater elsewhere. Getting around is simple enough with an integrated
transport system and Uber operates as well.
I was based in the Puro hotel. This is a smart, modern-iPad room controls-which is only a short walk into the centre. It's also only 2 minutes away from AleBrowar Wroclaw. This L-shped bar has a real chilled out vibe about it, some killer tunes and knowledgeable bar staff who always delivered the goods on the beer front. I returned here several times and would have to say it was the best as far as I'm concerned. Had some good beers from local client brewer Doctor Brew here and the Hula Hop White IPA from Lebork was also excellent. Top tip: if you want to get in with the manager here, casually mention you are a Neil Young fan.
A quick stroll round the corner will take you to Szynkarnia. With a small bar and downstairs area augmented by seating upstairs, this really is hipster central. Fourteen taps pump out offerings such as Peated Smoked Berliner Weisse (yuk) and various Brett infused brews. Across the road is a great chippy that offers sweet potato fries that you can take back to the AleBrowar Wroclaw if you fancy some supper with your beer.
Right in the centre, naturally, the places tend to be more touristy, but are still worth a visit. Spiz is a very popular cellar pub that is clearly designed on the Munich beer hall model. All rather fun and if you see a table, go for it. Once a brewpub, due to demand, they now brew off-site, but both the Pils and wheat beers were perfectly acceptable drinking fare. Oh and if you like lard on bread, then this is the place for you.
Not far away is another popular alehouse: Zloty Pies aka the Golden Dog brewery. This large, modern, brewpub had the wood and gleaming coppers you would expect of such a place. The Golden Weizen was decent, the Bokser Lager even better-you could guzzle a 3L glass for 69zl-but the standout was the Vic Secret infused Pit Bull IPA. This could also be bought in 3 litre measures but at 6% you might be a little unwise to do so.