Polish beer – a guide to taste and business

January 31, 2013 in Basic Information, Food, General, Investments, Leisure, Lifestyle, Markets, Polish Business, Polish Matters, Travelling Poland

polish beer 278x300 Polish beer   a guide to taste and business

Picture © boule1301 – Fotolia.com

Don’t we all love it? In a shiny glass, ice cold, perfect for a hot summer day or a night out with friends. Beer is really making it as the drink of choice. Poland is no different, and Polish beer is becoming more and more appreciated by people locally and worldwide. Let’s take a quick look at the main beer brands out there (so you know what to drink) and the beer group corporations which run the business (so you can invest in your favourite).

 

I don’t know how many beer brands there are in Poland. Clearly, they can be divided into mainstream brands, coming from a handful of brewery groups and the smaller ones, from local breweries either completely private or associated with foodchains of sorts. Either way, I have chosen only the mainstream Polish beer brands for this article, and I will try to get to the smaller guys later on.

There are four main beer corporations / brewery groups which account for the majority of Polish beer brands. Those are: Grupa Żywiec S.A., Carsberg Polska (both z o.o. and S.A.) – a member of the Carlsberg Group as you might have guessed, Kompania Piwowarska S.A. and the Van Pur group.

Amonth themselves, those four players provide the Polish folk with a total of 23 original Polish beer brands. Apart from that, they also brew and/or import international brands, but that’s irrelevant to this post as you know all those from your own corner store.

When you walk into a Polish bar (and if you ever come to Poland, I can hardly imagine you wouldn’t visit one) and ask for beer, it’s quite likely they’ll ask you which one you like. Most foreigners I know will generally answer “a typical Polish one”. Now, that’s not something I recommend because you are most likely to get Żywiec. Don’t get me wrong – Żywiec is a very fine light beer, but by now it’s available in most foreign countries and many, many people had a chance to try it out. When you’re here try something that’s not being exported, or at least not to such a great extend.

The list below is aimed at helping you out with some main beer choices. I’ve divided the beers by the group they are made by. And for those feeling strongly against large corporations – do note, that those groups make the beer in a large number of different breweries. So, the money you pay for the brands may be flowing into the same pocket, but you are clearly not getting the same stuff under a different name. All those Polish beer brands are distinct, are made with different recipes and with water from different sources (due to the different location of the single breweries).

Please also keep in mind that I haven’t had the chance to try each single one of them. So, if I know anything, you’ll see it. If not, I’ll kindly ask you to try it out and let me know!

So here we go. Let’s start with the goods offered by Grupa Żywiec:

  • Żywiec – that flagship of the group, and probably the most widely recognized Polish beer brand in the world (although, I did not reserach that, so don’t quote me!). I just know that you can buy it in decent stores in the US, UK, Ireland, Germany and so forth. So you probably had a chance to taste it at some point, and if not, you can probably do it at home.
  • Warka – it’s a nice lager, so if you like your beer to have a slightly darker colour – do consider to give it a try. In my personal opinion, it’s also slightly sweet. I like that.
  • Tatra – personally, this is my favourite Polish beer (actually, my favourite in general). It’s a full light beer, with a clear taste. I’m not sure why I choose Tatra over other brands, maybe their marketing just works for me – Tatra is the name of a main mountain chain in Poland, the Tatra Mountains.
  • Strong – I think that this one was originally the Warka Strong, and has been recently rebranded to be just Strong. Anyway, it’s similar to Warka, with sweetish flavour and really nice, golden colour. And, as the name suggests it, it’s stronger with its 6,5 % of alcohol volume.
  • Królewskie – another old Polish beer brand. Also, as it’s name (which translates to “Royal”) could suggest, it comes from Warsaw. It’s another typical beer, with good taste and a large popularity in Warsaw. If you’re ever here – you’ll find it easily.
  • Specjal – I have a hard time finding this beer in Warsaw, but it’s very popular in the Mazury region, where all the lakes are. As a tourist in Poland, you’re likely to visit. So, if you ever go sailing on the Masurian lakes and stop by a tavern at night – try your Specjal. One weird thing, there is no dedicated web site for the brand. Hey, Żywiec Group – what’s up with that??
  • Brackie – I’ve never ever tried this one. If you get a chance to drink it, let me know what you think. Again, no web site …
  • Leżajsk – never tried that one either. Apparently, it’s popular in the Biedronka discount stores. And no web site, again …
  • Kujawiak – same story as the two above.

Please continue on next page …

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