Warsaw is increasingly choked with bars, yet devising a pub crawl remains a big ask: too many routes are mined and booby trapped by the big beer vendors and their chemical stock. Bypass them entirely by following the Insider’s weaving path…
Pub crawls are a tough business. In the words of comedian Al Murray, you need two things: ‘a game plan and an end in sight’. It’s for this reason the Szlak Piwa map that went viral over summer can largely be disregarded: a nice poster, sure, a clever marketing tool, definitely. But in all practicality, you’re just not going to get from Praga to Mirów without the aid of a space rocket. Which is why we’ve come up with something a little less complicated…
As a natural starting block use (1) Spiskowcy Rozkoszy, an increasingly lively bar that originally made its name as an eccentric looking student haunt. Having prospered last year, they’ve dug downwards and opened up the cellar. Three things you need to know: i) the good bottled beers are on the ground floor; ii) there’s seven or so tap beers in the basement; iii) the toilets look like some psychedelic dream trap – they’ll leave your brain scrambled.
Next up is the short walk to (2) Piw Paw, best visited at the start of a pub crawl for purely tactical reasons: there’s 57 tap beers, but only two toilets. Clearly, with odds like that something is going to give, and it’s usually the bladder. For this reason, visit early.
Find (3) Kufle i Kapsle round the corner. Many claim this to be their favorite multi-tap, but that’s just one string to their bow – the selection of bottles is staggering in variety and quality.You dream of being accidentally locked in overnight. Downside is the queuing system: it takes one person to break the queue code, and the rest panic and follow.
You won’t have far to wander for p(o)int No. 4 – Dubrovnik. Something of a wild-card entry, it’s on the list for serving beer stored in tanks, a crafty Czech idea that, quoting The Independent, ‘preserves the beers freshness so well it’s like drinking in the brewery itself.’ In this case, the cunning storage system removes the gag reflex usually associated with drinking Tyskie.
The next steps take you through the underpass emerging by the Rotunda. You could roll into (5) Przekąski Zakąski, but doing so compromises your character. Who says so? The Mayor of Central Warsaw! Owner Adam Gessler has been a bit of a rascal, and somehow accrued a debt of zł. 32 million to the city. Till he pays up, you’re all urged to swerve it.
Instead, zig-zag your way up to (6) Afera, possibly the best little shot bar there is at this time. More voddies await in either (7) Ulubiona or (8) Pijalnia. Both come with a fair measure of havoc, and watching all the tears and tiffs is a spectator sport. Crossing Nowy Świat, and it becomes easy to be sucked into the vortex that are the pavilion bars. That’s a pub crawl in itself and you do so at your peril. So, how about commie-themed (9) Meta? If nothing else, it’s a good benchmark of your condition: if you’re ordering gherkins or pocketing bits of their interior it’s wise to call it a night.
If not, plug on. To (10) Kameralna, perhaps – this lot have yet to fine tune their daytime aspiration of being a restaurant, but while the food is a shambles they brew their own beer. That’s enough to earn them a place on this crawl. And if you’re not crawling yet then you soon bloody well will be. For a last hurrah, it’s (11) Cuda Na Kiju. Getting here means crossing a minefield of menace – you’ll be passing both Sogo strip club and the notorious Luztro. No good can come from visiting either. Remain true to your target. Let the reward be an intelligent selection of pedigree beer, not to mention a wobbly crowd largely free of know-it-all beer geeks. Put simply, Cuda make 99% of Poland’s bars look pointless.