Bosnia

Ratings Key:

A: Choice and/or quality of drinks: /10

B: Style and décor: /10

C: Atmosphere and feel: /10

D: Amenities, Events & Community: /10

E: Value for money: /10

F: The Pub Going Factor: /10

Mostar

8/10

  • The Black Dog Pub – A: 6/10 B: 7/10 C: 9/10 D: 7/10 E: 7/10 F: 8/10

Sarajevo

10/10

  • Zlatna Ribica –  A: 5/10 B: 10/10 C: 10/10 D: 5/10 E: 7/10 F: 10/10

8/10

 

Bosnia’s story with beer is a little more truncated. Brewing only 7 (soon to be 8) beers is not a foundation upon which hundreds of great bars will spawn.

Bosnia’s fascinating clash between Slavic peasantry, remnants of an Austrian empire and the Muslim world to the east makes it one of the most interesting countries in Europe to visit as a tourist.

The nightlife remains partly non-alcoholic in summer, as crowds gather around courtyard cafés to drink tea and smoke shisha, which is so enjoyable in itself I almost feel like I should include those places.

Unfortunately many of the bars serving alcohol sway between unwelcoming looking smokey corner bars and being very poor facsimiles of what they believe Westerners are doing. The latter places are generally loud, brash, unstylish (in a tacky way) and serve poor drinks. It’s a template you will become familiar with the longer time you spend in Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia.

However, Sarajevo’s main brewery happens to be a transplant from the Austro-Hungarian empire, meaning it still churns out decent enough lager, the sort that still tastes of beer rather than being chemically sterilised to the point nothing remains except a mineraly flavour. Their brewery tap is a fascinating blend of Ottoman and Germanic stylings, even giving off echoes of medieval galleried pubs. The locals are justifiable proud of it, and they export unpasteurised tank Sarajevska across the city and outlying areas.

Don’t despair about the bar scene however, as there are some spectacular and cool individual places to be found that singularly prove a diversity of character that is not immediately apparent in the more mainstream venues.