Slovakia

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

Bratislava

9/10

  • Hostinec Rychtar Jakub –  A: 10/10 B: 8/10 C: 10/10 D: 7/10 E: 8/10 F: 9/10

8/10

  • Bernard pri Lyceu – A: 9/10 B: 6/10 C: 8/10 D: 6/10 E: 10/10 F: 8/10
  • Mestiansky Pivovar – A: 9/10 B: 6/10 C: 6/10 D: 7/10 E: 7/10 F: 8/10
  • Omama – A: 8/10 B: 9/10 C: 8/10 D: 7/10 E: 9/10 F: 8/10

It would be tempting to think the guide to Slovakian drinking could be done simply by copy-pasting the information from the Czech guide, but there are some immutable differences between the two.

Slovakia has the euro, and while it still is a place for incredibly cheap drinking, the economic effects naturally increase the prices from what they would otherwise have been. In the right places though, you can still find a very good desitka lager for 1 euro.

Another difference is simply the lay of the land and the infrastructure. Slovakia is nowhere near as densely populated as Czech Republic, and the shape of the country itself, largely spread West to East covers a surprising amount of terrain. By the time you reach Kosice you’re snaking close to the Ukranian border and the sub-Carpathians. It’s impossible not to concede that there will be cultural consequences of that.

Most people will find themselves in Bratislava, being within a day trip of Vienna and on one of the fastest train lines in central Europe. The city is not so different from many Czech places, just with a smidgen more of an Austrian vibe to some of the streets. The beer scene reflects that a little bit, with fewer traditional Pivnice style places and more modern and alternative bars. There are some decent hospodas around that offer a classic slice of Czechslovak drinking, and although Slovakia’s primary beers aren’t a patch on Czech ones, there are a couple of reasonable central breweries to explore.

Out in the rest of the country, beer has to compete with schnapps and slivovitz in the mountainous regions, and wine in the south and east.

The craft beer revolution doesn’t suit Czechia much as they already had very high standards, while their obsession with the price of a pint is only matched in England and Germany. However, I think there is room in Slovakia for this, firstly because the self-contained brewery tap concept would work well considering how much of an arseache distribution is in such a rural country, secondly because certain areas are lagging behind in their offerings, when you consider their neighbours, including Poland are enjoying a better quality and better variety of beer.

Lastly, while in the countryside make sure to visit a mountain lodge or inn, akin to Slovenias gostilnas, as these places with their chunky wooden seats, roaring fires and home cooking are famous for good value, good portions and a homely ‘Traveller’s Rest’ feel.