When in Romania…

Brewpublic’s Jay Butler continues his worldly travels where he encounters a range of craft beer, this time in Central Europe. Of course, he knows there is no place like home here in the Pacific Northwest, but having an inclination for exploration and a sweet tooth for the malted arts, Jay stops at nothing to quaff a refreshing pint…or liter…of brew. Recently he has been living in Bucharest, the capital city of Romania, as well as the country’s financial and industrial center. For the Romanian’s beer is a integral part of their culture. The country ranks in the top ten countries in the world in beer consumption (estimated around 100 liters per capital during 2008). The long history of brewing dates back to the 19th Century when German colonists (Transylvanian Saxons) introduced in Transylvania and in Moldavia by settlers with ties to Poland. Today several lager-centric breweries produce what is constituted as “foodstuffs”, meaning that beer is regulated similarly to food and not subject to the regulations and tariffs it is in countries like the United States. The most consumed national product is Ursus, a brewery in the city of Cluj-Napoca dating back to 1878 and now owned by SABMiller. Other historic Romanian breweries include Ciuca (since 1892), Aurora (since 1892), Azuga (since 1870), and Timioreana (since 1717, now also owned by SABMiller). Romania, like a lot of other countries with roots in communism, has in many ways failed to liberate libators from drab grog such has been done in Beervana. They are all about the fizzy yellow product, much of which is sold in 2-liter plastic screw-top bottles. Jay gives us a glimpse into the beer of Romania in this brief memoir where he visits Becker Brau, founded by Christian and Dagmar Becker who also exhibit a passion for guitars. The brewpub displays a number of Gibson and Fender models in an indoor theatre that seats up to 800 people. Outside an additional 500 outside can be seated. Here’s what Jay had to say about Becker Brau:

Becker Brau is not difficult to find, but looking at a map of the city Bucuresti, many destinations fall by the wayside as they are not ‘clear cut’.

They have two house beers on tap. The mash tuns are visible, but no tours are allowed. Why? No reason. This is how things are explained in communist countries. Nobody does anything without approval of the big boss, who seemingly is out near the coast/mountains with one of his many mistresses. I digress.

One brew is filtered and the other is not. Both are of the malty ale Germanic varietals. Both were tasty. I usually prefer non-filtered, and my preferences did not change in this case. Myself and wifey both had a .33 liter (just short of a pint?) Here is what my scribbled notes have described:

Unfilt – malt heavy, rich flavor (sediments) on palate, cloudy blonde and heavy head Filt – clean malt flavour with carbonated, light aftertaste, bronze and more clear consistency, the head was a bit less pronounced.

If the description of the beer did not suffice for the ‘hounds’ out there, take it upon yourself to make a trip out here. Although, if you don’t like big, dirty cities with very little CHOICE then stay in western you’re up.

The place is huge. Tons of wooden pic tables outside and classic rock memorabilia on the inside. I’m sure the place could host 500 or so folks. I went there with my friend Paulo and in the evening they had a 10 man band playing for about 100. An ideal place for a party if you can stand ciggy smoke*. We both had a big halba de bere that had us in deep convo for over an hour. A good night and introduction to a new place for my old friend.

Well, it’s time for my swine flu shot. I’d advise everyone that doesn’t care about their arms falling off and minor paralyzed parts to go get one right away!

*I have never been in a country where I’ve seen a vast majority of people smoking. I’ve been to many places.


Read more on Romania enters global top 10 for beer consumption.