I don’t need to introduce this lot, do I? Cuda na Kiju went viral over summer, and what I say now will expose nothing new. But, my reasons for revisiting have been twofold – firstly, the weather. Make hay while sun shines, for in two months we’ll be crossing the road on ice skates. Secondly, as we evaluate candidates for our Best of Warsaw issue, Cuda Na Kiju just happen to figure rather highly: when considering a timeline charting Warsaw’s brew-olution, this mob cause the biggest spike of all. Yes, they changed Warsaw nightlife.
For as long as I can recall that capital has always had great bars, what it hasn’t always had was great beer to go in them. Ask yourself, how many times have you entered a fly looking bar only to be served a pint of flat pee… Even now, Wa-wa is lined with posters hawking Tyskie and Żywiec along with energetic claims that they’re the best you will buy (yes, stop chortling at the back). This summer gone though, what many knew already became public knowledge: there is good beer in Poland, and none of it’s from the brewers who shout loudest. And it’s thanks to Cuda that everyone now knows this.
Warsaw’s first multi-tap (unless you count Po Drugiej Stronie Lustra – and we don’t) remains its most thoughtful. There’s the location, for one – you’re in the eye of the storm, no matter what part of the city you’re arriving from. Then there’s the size – here’s one multi-tap that seemed prepared to be popular (the others, strangely, seemed to expect about seven punters per day). Set over three floors, no matter how popular it gets there always seems space. Of course, it helps having a huge courtyard to cater for overspill.
Design-wise, it’s pretty straight talking. In the words of Kuba, the co-owner, “the design is the building.” And yes, that’s enough: after all, it’s a gob-stopping background. Formerly the Communist Party HQ, it’s an imposing fortress of stone arcades and dark shaded spaces. But the PRL feels a long way away in Cuda, a modern glass chamber set amid solid granite pillars. With the autumn sunlight slanting through the four glass walls, it’s easy to see why management decided against surplus frills.
And anyway, why would anyone wish to overshadow the real glory of Cuda – the beer. For it is the drinks that are the main attraction. Rotated every few days (sometimes faster, pending on demand), these cover the latest on-trend offers from progressive Polish breweries and much more besides: cult Belgian and Czech labels have featured prominently, and we’re told the geography of the offer is set to expand (Danish and German have appeared in recent days).
Favoring – but certainly not limited to – IPA and APA style beers, Cuda’s biggest success has been in getting people to drink. That sounds a bit daft, but think about it a second: how many pubs do you know that fill with great big groups nursing two drinks between them. You don’t do that in Cuda. In part, that’s because it’s competitively priced. Mainly though, it’s because the beer is too good to share. And the more people drinking means the fresher it is. If this is the future of Warsaw drinking, then it’s very bright indeed. (Words & Photo: Alex Webber)
Cuda Na Kiju ul. Nowy Świat 6/12, facebook