The 9 Best Craft Beer Bars in Budapest

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

#1 Élesztő

Head to Élesztő if you're curious about Hungarian craft beers and what Budapest outside the city center looks like. From a total of two hundred options, Élesztő serves a rotating set of 25 beers on tap, ranging from light crowd-pleasers to sour IPAs. The former glass manufacturing 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. The spacious courtyard patio lined with communal tables is ideal for groups. Cash only!

#2 Hopaholic

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 over 250 microbreweries around the world and there's also 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 all the options.

#3 MADHOUSE

This enormous downtown beer hall belongs to Mad Scientist, a leading Budapest craft brewery. From the humble beginnings in 2016, the company has grown into a recognized brand, amplified by their recent partnership with Hungary's biggest brewing company (Dreher). Naturally, 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: you can try everything from a classic double IPA (Liquid Cocaine) to a vanilla-infused wheat beer (Monkey Temple) and a sour ale aged in a wine barrel (Pinot Sauvage).

#4 Jónás Craft Beer House

Due to poor urban planning, cars have better access to Danube vistas than city residents in Budapest. But a handful of bars can boast a precious river panorama and Jónás Craft Beer House is one of them. So, while sipping your citrusy pale ale here, you can marvel at Gellért Hill and the stately building of the Budapest University of Technology on the opposite bank. If you come from the city center, take tram #2 for a scenic ride along the Danube and get off at Zsil utca, almost right outside Jónás.

#5 Hops Beer Bar

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).

#6 KEG Sörművház

KEG is a below-ground craft beer bar in Budapest’s increasingly trendy 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. For those unsure what to order, they offer a tasting special where the bartenders (or you) select five 1 dl / 3.4 oz samples for €7. This being the Buda side, there are more local patrons and fewer tourists than in comparable places across the Danube. Burgers are available to help prevent a hangover.

#7 Neked Csak Dezső!

Neked Csak Dezső is a spacious craft beer near Budapest's party district. On any day, they have about 20 beers on tap, most of which come from Hungarian microbreweries, with a few options from the Czech Republic. The selections range from crispy lagers to sour ales and hop-forward double IPAs with sky-high alcohol levels. Apart from the top local labels — Mad Scientist, Monyo, Horizont, Reketye — Dezső also serves a few under-the-radar producers like Ugar, a brewery based in a village in eastern Hungary and known for its witty brand names.

#8 Kandalló Pub

Part burger joint, part sports bar, part craft beer bar, Kandalló wears many hats. The burgers at this popular joint within Budapest's Jewish Quarter are among the best you'll find in the city (although I wish they used smaller and squishier buns). From the dozen or so options, I recommend you stick to the classic cheeseburger or, if you'd like to splurge, try the grilled foie gras-studded "Kandalló" burger for €15 — it comes in a light brioche bun and the luscious goose liver does shine through every bite. There's also a vegetarian and a vegan option.

#9 Bölcső Bar & Food

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.

Rankings are based on a combination of food/drink, atmosphere, service, and price. The author visits all restaurants incognito and pays for his own meals and drinks.