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When my sister and I visited Ljubljana, Slovenia last month, we instantly fell in love. When we found out that Ljubljana’s craft beer scene has been booming in recent years, we fell even more in love. If you are a beer lover like us, you’ll want to spend an evening discovering Slovenia’s best craft beers with A Beer Lover’s Experience of Ljubljana.
1. Lokal: Human Fish Brewery
Upon meeting our guide, Anze, we headed over to our first stop, Lokal. Here, we sampled an India Pale Ale (IPA) by Human Fish Brewery. Anze joked that Slovenia’s national animal is the human fish.
The IPA was not hoppy at all based on what I’m used to in the U.S., but when I mentioned to Anze that the Human Fish IPA tasted like a very mild IPA, he disagreed. He said this was about as hoppy as IPAs get in Slovenia. I have learned on previous beer tours around the world that hops can only grow in a very specific climate, so it’s possible that Slovenia (or Europe in general) does not have the sort of climate necessary to grow strong hops. Although I love beer of all kinds (except sours), I rarely gravitate toward IPAs because I am rarely in the mood for such a hoppy drink, so I was quite pleased to find that the strong IPAs I tend to stay away from in the U.S. simply do not even exist in Slovenia.
One thing I loved about getting beers in Slovenia is that they always seemed to be accompanied by complimentary snacks. At Lokal, we received an entire board of olives, cheeses, meats, and pretzel sticks to enjoy with our Human Fish IPA.
2. Captain’s Cabin: Maister Brewery
Having enjoyed our first beer outdoors in the sunshine, we switched it up and went to a basement bar next. Captain’s Cabin is decorated in a nautical theme and was quite empty when we arrived around 6:00pm. Here, we sampled another IPA called the General Maister IPA. This one was brewed by Maister Brewery in Komnik, Slovenia. Maister Brewery is “gypsy brewery,” which means the owner rents – rather than owns – all the materials it uses to brew its beers.
While similarly tasty to the Human Fish IPA, it was again a very mild IPA by American standards. After sampling two IPAs in a row, I looked forward to trying some different types of beers next.
3. Makalonca: Mali Grad (Little Castle)
The next location on our Beer Lover’s Experience of Ljubljana was a complete change of pace, as we moved from the dark basement at Captain’s Cabin back outside to a beautiful outdoor patio on the Ljubljianica River. At Makalonca, we sampled a pale ale brewed by the Mali Grad (“Little Castle”) Brewery. Mali Grad is the smallest brewery out of all the breweries we sampled on the craft beer tour and only makes 6,000 liters of beer each year. That may sound like a large number, but to stretch that over the course of an entire year makes it a pretty rare find. Unlike the IPAs, the pale ale tasted like the pale ales I am used to in the U.S.
Out of all the bars we visited on the craft beer tour, Makalonka may have been my favorite. Even if you choose to forego the Beer Lover’s Experience of Ljubljana, I would highly recommend visiting Makalonka for a drink when the weather is nice. I could’ve sat out on the patio all afternoon enjoying this view, but we had to move on to our next stop.
4. Hotel Tresor: Hercules Witbier
My favorite types of beers are witbiers and Belgians, and I had the opportunity to sample a witbier at the fourth stop on our craft beer tour: Hotel Tresor. Anze led us to the bar area of the hostel on the first floor, where we sampled a witbier from Hercules Brewery. We were again given boards of snacks to munch on while enjoying our beers. The staff were very friendly, and it just seemed like a fun and relaxed place to stay in Ljubljana.
Not surprisingly, the Hercules Witbier was my favorite beer on the tour. Witbiers are perfect for hot summer days like the one we had in Ljubljana when we went on the craft beer tour.
5. Union Brewery
Our fifth and final stop brought us to the most well known brewery in Ljubljana, Union Brewery. Right after we arrived, we were greeted by a tour guide and given a tour of the original brewery located upstairs. I found it interesting that Union grows its own hops and even exports it to other regions, but it only uses malt imported from other regions as it is not economical for Union to produce its own malts.
After getting a tour and brief history of the brewery, we headed back downstairs to the outdoor patio and were given three tasters and some snacks. We sampled a regular lager, an unfiltered lager, and an unfiltered dark beer. I find it hard to drink dark beers in very hot weather, so it worked out perfectly that the weather had cooled down by the time we received our samplers at Union Brewery.
After we finished our samplers, our group stayed at Union and enjoyed another beer, the comfortable weather, and each others’ company.
For a beer lover, I can’t think of anything more fun than spending the evening discovering Slovenia’s best craft beers with A Beer Lover’s Experience of Ljubljana. Our guide, Anze, was not only very knowledgeable about beers, but he was also very funny and related well to the group.
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A big thank you to Ljubljana Tourism for making our tour possible. As always, all opinions are 100% our own.