10 of the Best Craft Beer Bars in Budapest

Like craft coffee, the craft beer movement is spreading ever deeper into the Budapest mainstream as new microbreweries pop up at a head-spinning pace. At the bars below, you can sample everything from crispy lagers to hop-forward double IPAs and sour beers sourced from small Hungarian and international breweries.

Head to Élesztő if you're curious about Hungarian craft beers and what Budapest outside the city center looks like. Élesztő serves a rotating set of 25 beers on tap, ranging from light crowd-pleasers to sour IPAs. The former glass production plant is an ideal venue for a craft beer bar: the century-old brick walls and the exposed fermentation tanks exude a sense of artisanship and give the (false) impression that an actual brewery is on the premises. Butcher's Kitchen, a food stall inside the courtyard, serves excellent pastrami and pulled pork sandwiches to help slow the rise in blood alcohol levels. (Trafó, the building next door, is Budapest's leading contemporary arts center with regular dance, music, and English-language theater performances.)

Located inside Budapest's party district, Hopaholic is a snug craft beer bar known for its dizzying range of international craft beers. They source bottled beers from more than 250 microbreweries around the world in addition to the ten rotating beers on tap. Do you feel like downing a cloudy, yeasty hefeweizen? Perhaps an imperial stout from Denmark sporting a 10 percent ABV? Or, rather, a tart and fruity Moldavian-Hungarian lambic beer? Not a problem. The bartenders will provide samples to taste if you feel overwhelmed by the options.

Hopaholic eschews the usual signifiers of the craft beer genre no exposed fermentation tanks or heavily bearded bartenders here. Instead, the beers take center stage, as you can also tell by the customers, most of whom are discerning beer fanatics sipping away happily. Given the wide assortment, prices vary from a few euros a glass to multiples of that.

Gravity is one of the few Budapest craft beer bars where the brewery itself is located on the premises. This means the taproom, which is inside the brick-walled basement of a pre-war building, abuts the production plant fitted with steel tanks, hoses, and electric dashboards (there's a see-through door). The beers span approachable New England IPAs, rye beers, and hefty imperial stouts with double-digit alcohol levels.

There’s twelve beers on tap, of which a couple usually come from other Hungarian producers, such as the hops-infused cider made by Budaprés. Gravity Brewing is a project of American native Greg Kieckhefer and the local staff speaks perfect English. Price points are a little friendlier than at comparable craft beer bars.

With a crowd of male-heavy imbibers and walls blanketed in band stickers, Hops is a divey-looking craft beer bar within Budapest's party district. The moment you realize that this isn't your average dive bar is when you catch a glimpse of the more than 200 types of bottles stacked in the fridge. It's this extensive selection that makes Hops a pilgrimage-site for Budapest craft beer fans (of sour beers alone there are thirty options).

Most bottles come from well-known international breweries like Denmark's Mikkeller, but they also carry small producers from Scotland, Belgium, and the U.S. The Hungarian beers are limited to what the owners believe can stand up to international comparison ("only very few for now").

KEG is a below-ground craft beer bar in Budapest’s increasingly fashionable Újbuda neighborhood. The place is just off Bartók Béla Boulevard, the main artery of the area, inside a remodeled brick-arched basement. Digital flap displays show the nearly 30 types of beers on tap, most of them sourced from leading local breweries. Solid burgers are available to help prevent a hangover. This being the Buda side means there are more local patrons than tourists.

Madhouse is an oversized downtown beer hall that belongs to Mad Scientist, a leading Budapest craft brewery. From its humble beginnings in 2016, the company has grown into a recognized brand, amplified by their recent partnership with Hungary's biggest brewing company (Dreher). Most of the 25 taps are dedicated to Mad Scientist's own creations, but a few other local labels like Monyo, Balkezes, and Horizont are also available. Together with bottled beers, the selections are impressively wide: from a vanilla-infused wheat beer to a classic double IPA to an aged sour ale.

Price points are steep, the crowd is more mixed than at your average craft beer bar in addition to the usual beer fanatics, well-dressed couples and groups of girlfriends also appear here.

Piney, citrusy, and floral IPAs, sour ales, and blackcurrant ciders are among the 32 options on tap at Mixát, a polished and oversized newcomer to Budapest's thriving craft beer universe. Mixát is located within the Palace Quarter, so named after the high-ceilinged Revival-style palazzos here that were homes to the Hungarian aristocracy in days of yore. Mixát's moniker comes from the phonetic spelling of Mikszáth tér, the nearby square that fills to capacity during the summer months.

Part burger restaurant, part sports bar, part craft beer bar, Kandalló in Budapest's Jewish Quarter wears many hats. The burgers are solid; from the dozen or so burger options, I recommend you stick to the classic cheeseburger or, if you'd like to splurge, try the grilled foie gras-studded "Kandalló" burger. The 16 beer taps feature leading Hungarian microbreweries, including Monyo, Horizont, Brew Your Mind, and Reketye. On Sunday evenings, Kandalló becomes a haven for NFL fans, displaying games on big screens; advance booking is a must if you'd like to join the throngs of local American football fans.

I love craft beers, but bars that serve them are often too polished, too pristine, without the patina that accrues from long years in the business. The notable exception: Ganz Söröző. This tiny place, which hides on a quiet, peaceful, car-free street behind the Ottoman-era Király Baths in Buda, isn't very fashionable but has a lot of charm. Ganz is most enjoyable in the summer, when local beer fans spill out to the outdoor tables shaded by a towering tree and overlooking the building's ivy-clad facade. Ten beers are served on draft, many more by the bottle, both local and international varieties.

Bölcső may not have the deepest craft beer selections in Budapest, nor does it sling In-N-Out-level Double-Doubles, but the combination of above-average beers and burgers makes this lively neighborhood joint a worthy destination. Once here, you'll also get to experience a charming Buda neighborhood on the less-traveled side of the city. Being in Buda means that the patrons are mainly locals, especially thirty-plus millennials with a taste for craft beers.

There are 16 rotating beers on tap, sourced mainly from top Hungarian microbreweries and featuring everything from IPAs to lagers, porters, and sour beers. The burgers are tasty but they tend to undercook the patties so go a notch above your desired degree of doneness: ask for medium-well if you’re looking for medium.