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Oakes Weekly - July 15th, 2004
Warsaw to Bangkok, Part One: Poland
July 15, 2004
Written by Oakes
Poland is wrapping up and here’s how it went. I had not expected to stay in Warsaw for any length of time at all. However, I had no real say in the matter. LOT lost my backpack. Or, should I say, they left it in Toronto. Then they sent it to Prague. Yee-ha. So I ended up with 2 days and nights in Warsaw. There’s not much brewing there. The one brewpub being currently closed, I investigated Pub Nora, a student dive bar with an impressive range by Polish standards. That being 10 taps. All yellow, fizzy and bland. And it was atmospherically a true dive. Nuts to that.
There is a mall a little ways out of downtown called Blue City - the first one I’ve been to in years. I went to visit the beer store Gambrynus. This store was ok - very few Polish beers, but the ones they had were the prime rare stuff - Krolewskie Porter and Amber Kozlak among them. The bulk of their selection, though, is Haus der 131 Bier crap. I can’t believe some of you are still drinking this shit. Are numbers that important? I felt so ripped off when I learned my Hong Kong IPA was really from Germany.
Next door to Gambrynus is Piotr & Pauwel, a grocery store. They’ve got a better selection of Polish beer, a better selection of English beer, a better selection of German beer and a better selection of Belgian beer. Rocket science, this is not. I sampled my haul over the next couple of nights. Amber Kozlak, a bock, was the best by far. It was excellent - surely one of the most refined bocks out there.
I then headed to Wroclaw. The hostel I stayed in was a total hole - they didn’t even have toilet paper. The town was very quiet. I hit up Spiz, which is a brewpub underneath the city hall in the middle of the old town square. The beers were odd - all had unique characteristics relative to the style. The Ciemne (dunkel) and Mocne (strong) were the best two.
From there I visited the beer store Piwoczek, although many corner groceries in Wroclaw have selections just as good. I bought a few there, but around the corner a grocery yielded the likes of Boss Porter (had it, mind you, but a cool find). This is a real problem, though, in Poland. Finding Polish porter. Zywiec is everywhere, which I suppose isn’t a bad thing because it’s the best one, but it took me four days to find one I’d never had.
The best of my rather depressing "sitting alone in the hostel drinking" session at Wroclaw was Jablonowo Mocne, very clean for the style.
Krakow is one of Europe’s main tourist destinations. Westerners are actually rather ignorant of it, but Europeans flock there. The old town square gets jammed to the gills. Sadly, the local brewer is shut out of the old town and its very lucrative trade by Heineken (Zywiec) and Carlsberg (Okocim).
During one of my scavenger hunts, I hit upon a real surprise - a new porter! Well, it certainly wasn’t new judging by the layer of dust on it, but I’d never had it before. You can hardly kill a Polish porter anyway. Lodskie Porter is full of raisins and molasses - not the best but I was happy for a change of pace. Now, with less than a day left from time of writing before I leave Poland - will I find another?
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Sadly, the local brewer is shut out of the old town and its very lucrative trade by Heineken (Zywiec) and Carlsberg (Okocim).
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