Posts in Eat + Drink
One Man's Quest to Bring Craft Beer to Budapest

On a crisp evening in March, we stumbled upon Hopaholic, a craft beer bar in District 7. While sitting down at the bar, we ordered two IPAs by Brew Your Mind. As we took our first sips, the man next to us leaned over asked what we thought.

We told him the truth. They were incredible.

Without so much as cracking a smile he replied saying, "That's good." Turns out this was his bar, and the beer was a collaboration he did with the guys of Brew Your Mind. He turned back around and resumed chatting with his friends, and we finished enjoying our drinks. Before we left he introduced himself as Gergely Kővári, and we set up a time to meet at his bottle shop down the road to hear the full story.

 Gergely Kővári, owner of Hopaholic + Csak a Jo Sor

Gergely Kővári, owner of Hopaholic + Csak a Jo Sor

At 9:30 p.m. the following evening we headed to Csak a Jo Sor to chat with Gergely as he closed for the evening. When Csak a Jo Sor opened seven years ago, it was the first craft beer shop in Hungary. Today, it continues to be the focal point of the beer community, and is a meeting point for brewers looking to create and collaborate. Just like Gergely’s other establishment, Hopaholic, beer bottles lined the walls of the shop. We soon learned they were only a fraction of his collection of 2,000+ unique bottles—each drank by him, each attached to a different memory. Over the next hour, we heard about some of these memories, the story behind his two establishments, and about beer culture in Hungary.

On the beer scene in Hungary

While Germans and Czechs have storied beer traditions, Gergeley tells us that Hungarian beer making originated more out of necessity than craftsmanship. He says, “There is no specific Hungarian type of beer. In the ancient past Hungarian people were nomads so it was simply much easier than to make beer than wine.”

Hungary is now much more known for wine than beer, and before Gergeley came on the scene there weren’t many choices for a brew. He asserts, ”Five years ago there was nothing. You could drink a lager, or maybe a hefeweizen.” Gergeley saw the lack of consumer choice, and turned his passion for beer into a business that is liberating taste buds and inspiring brewers across the country.

How It All Started

When asked about how Csak a Jo Sor started, Gergeley says, “I started small to see what would happen. The customers just started to come in and it grew naturally. It was the right place at the right time. I just saw that there was no business like this and that we needed it. If not me, someone else would have done it.”

Budapest Beer Bar

After seeing the success of the bottle shop, Gergeley opened the craft beer bar Hopaholic. “It was the first craft beer bar in Hungary”, he proudly says. Hopaholic has grown since those early days, and now you can choose from a rotating list of carefully selected 10 Hungarian draughts and over 200 varieties of bottles. Just a quick Google search for “craft beer in Budapest” quickly demonstrates how much this place means to beer lovers in the city.

To Gergeley, these places aren’t just business ventures. They are his life’s passion. He says, “I don't go out a lot outside of these shops. But, I am inspired at my places. I get a lot of ideas here because people come in and ask me about beers and brewing. I live my whole life here.”

The Future

Even though Gergeley has made a significant impact on the Budapest beer scene, the overall Hungarian beer market is dominated by the major brands. He says, “Craft beer only accounts for 2-3% of beer in Hungary, and most of it is here in Budapest.”

Despite these challenges, he’s determined to keep providing consumer choice and variety. He says, “The craft beer scene will keep growing but we need to find more customers. We have to grow its popularity.” Judging by his passion and two fine establishments, we certainly wouldn’t bet against him. On your next trip to Budapest, try some of his beers and we know you’ll feel the same.

When in Budapest, check out his two establishments, Hopaholic and Csak a Jo Sor. We especially recommend anything by Brew Your Mind, but try a few and decide for yourself!

Kiwi Hops: a Conversation with Brewer, Jess Wolfgang

After a beautiful hike on the Rocky Mountain track near Wanaka, we had one thing on our mind: a refreshing beer.

On our way back to town, we stumbled upon Rhyme and Reason Brewery. Started by Jessica Wolfgang and Simon Ross just seven months ago in a warehouse space on 17 Gordon Road, they are already producing some of the country’s best beer. We couldn’t believe both the quality and quantity of beer they’ve been produced in such a short time. We were delighted to come back later in the week to share a beer and chat with Jess, Head Brewer and Co-Founder.

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What got you into the brewing industry?

I love beer! I’ve always loved beer. Unfortunately my dad never had any good beer in the fridge, so I didn’t find any good beer until I went traveling. I never thought about brewing as being a job, didn’t even think of it as an industry I could be a part of. But I’ve been in hospitality for over 15 years. When I came back from traveling overseas I thought I’d go and learn how to make wine because there was a pretty famous local wine region near where I was living in Newcastle. I drove around and went to a lot of amazing wineries and also drove past a little wee brewery and that got me thinking “a brewery, of course someone’s gotta make beer! Why do I want to make wine? I don’t really drink wine! I’m going to have a look at this wee brewery.”
It was just serendipity. They had an assistant brewery leaving...and I said “hey, I love working in hospitality and in bars, and would be quite keen to see how beer is made.” I ended up just starting there, power hosing the floors and [helping] with lots of breweries and tastings. I eventually got invited to do some brew days and just got hooked!

What made you start the brewery seven months ago in Wanaka?

Wanaka is an expensive place and you can’t just work in hospitality and pay off a mortgage, or even pay for petrol here. We needed to become business owners to be able to afford to stay here.
We’ve always wanted to do our own brewery...he (co-founder Simon) has lots of friends here, and we’ve been visiting Wanaka snowboarding off and on for the last 14 years.
We finally saw summer here, and we found it was insanely busier than the winter and just as much fun. There was almost more activity in the summer...we thought, “this place is brilliant! We can ski in the winter, mountain bike in the summer, float, camp hike—it just ticked so many boxes.
New Zealand has such an epic beer scene as well, so it didn’t take too much arm twisting to get us to stay in Wanaka. It was just about finding a premise once we decided to stay here and start a brewery.

How did you find the space you’re at now (17 Gordon Road, Wanaka)?

A carpet cleaning company was moving out of the premise, so we just swooped on in...got on the phone with the landlord and said “we want to start a brewery, lease us your place!”...they thought, “well if you’re starting a brewery, you’ll probably keep it really clean. You guys can have it!” They were actually excited that we were starting a brewery and a bar.

Can you tell us a little bit about the rise of craft beer in New Zealand?

Even when I first started brewing eight years ago, you were constantly talking people into trying new (craft) beer and explaining why it’s a bit more expensive than the off the shelf commercial beer. That wasn’t that long ago.
I think New Zealand is a little bit ahead of Australia, the scene is a bit bigger over here even though it’s a smaller country. In the last four years it’s really taken off (in New Zealand). The number of breweries that are growing is on the increase. Commercial beer has hit a plateau but craft beer is rising.

Why do you think that is?

I think people are more careful about what they are eating and drinking these days. There’s so much knowledge and information that people can make the choices as to what they want to drink. That’s good for us.

What’s the brewing scene in Wanaka like?

It’s good! Wanaka has six breweries. Everyone is quite small, we’re a 1,200 liter brewery, I think Wanaka Beerworks are about 1,000 liters, Ground Up just bought a 1,200 liter brewery. There’s a couple of garage operations as well. Ground Up is just across the road from us which is pretty cool. We’re constantly borrowing bits of equipment and ingredients from each other.
We’ve brewed a couple of beers together. One of our most common guest taps is from Ground Up. I keep saying that we need to apply to get the street name changed here to Brewery Lane! Brewery Lane has a real ring to it.

How does collaboration in brewing work?

Brewers love to collaborate! Brewers have so much fun together and it’s always good fun brewing with other people. There’s always new things you pick up, whether it’s mixing those hops with these hops, or even new techniques in processing. It’s always a fun brew day if there’s a couple of extra brewers around. It’s always a bit wacky!
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I’ll let the dog run around and go crazy and then just come up with the recipe there, just sitting in the back of the car. The dog is happy, and the ideas start flowing!

How do you come up with ideas for your beers?

It comes from everywhere! It comes from reading cook books to reading funny names on things. Things will pop up when you want to brew a beer. You could try a cake or even a dinner and think “okay, we can turn that into a beer!”
We’ve got the Christmas pudding beer on tap right now (December 2017), and that came from wanting to brew something for Christmas and then having a look at what’s on the Christmas lunch or dinner table. I love ham, but don’t really feel like making a ham flavored beer. And then there are all sorts of things, like Christmas pudding. I looked at my mom’s and grandmother’s Christmas pudding recipes and thought, “Yep, honey can go in there. Yep, I can get some chocolate in there, yes figs, plums, raisins, all of this stuff can go in there.” It’s just about figuring out what part of the process it’s going to be best to add it to. Normally with fruits and spices I like to add it to the end of the boil. That way it actually gets cooked up, the flavors get released, and it gets sterilized so you don’t end up with any bugs getting into the beer with the brewers yeast. The Christmas pudding beer is on tap now and it’s literally like a liquified pudding, which is cool.
I want to do a beer version of Jamaican spiced rum. I want all of those beautiful spices that are in there. We want to serve it in a daiquiri glass with a pineapple wedge on it. I want to do it so I can call it Jamaican Me Thirsty. I’m pretty much making this beer for that name!
Where do you find your inspiration in Wanaka?
Everywhere! I used to come up with recipes while cleaning kegs. But I find it really hard to think while I’m cleaning kegs in the brewery because now I’m thinking mostly about business stuff. So now I need to leave the brewery to come up with new recipes. Normally I’ll grab some old books and recipes that have some information I need to create this new idea. I’ll grab my dog and choose a place either at the lake, or down at the forest, or at the river, or wherever I feel like at the time. I’ll let the dog run around and go crazy and then just come up with the recipe there, just sitting in the back of the car. The dog is happy, and the ideas start flowing!

What is the creative community of Wanaka like?

Lots of creative people here. Like I said before, it’s an expensive town to live in, but it’s because everything is on your doorstep…so people want to stay here and you have to get creative to figure out how you can afford to. That’s why there are a lot of people with their own little businesses. Lots of web designers, graphic designers, occupations where you can work from home or from a shared office space. Lots of creative and talented people around.

What beer are you most proud of making?

The Kiwi Kolsch. The Kiwi Kolsch is so delicate, and approachable and non-offensive. Every brewery should be making a Kolsch. It’s the go to beer. It’s a beer that you can have for breakfast, when you’re hungover, when you’re celebrating, when you want a session, everyone loves the Kolsch. Everybody thinks the Kiwi Kolsch has Kiwi in it though, so we might have to change the name to the New Zealand Kolsch. It’s just a beautiful style.
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It’s a really simple recipe. I’ve been brewing Kolsch for eight years...I’ve probably brewed more Kolsch than anyone outside of Cologne, Germany. You just need good ingredients. All German malts, it’s pretty traditional, except that I’m adding New Zealand grown hops. No one really notices, but I usually change the hops every time I brew this beer…this beer is an ale brewed as a lager. So it is an ale yeast, but we’re using a lager malt, which is lovely and clean and has a beautiful, sweet honey flavor to it. We use cooler lager fermentation temperatures and it just throws this beautiful, fruit-salad sweetness into it.
The Kiwi hops we use kind of have Sauvignon Blanc type gooseberry flavors to it, and that works out because I find the Kolsch to be the champagne of beers!

What would you want people to say about Rhyme and Reason?

I want them to say it’s fun! It’s all about the atmosphere here, we want to create a venue for conversation. Somewhere that’s a little bit different. Wanaka is a very busy town, so this is a place for someone to find a chilled out spot that’s a bit of a hideaway. You can come and escape here, hang out with the bartender. The bartender quickly learns your name and your drink. It’s about the experience here, and the beer is good. And it will keep getting better!
 

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Arobake, the shop fueling Wellington's carb cravings.

Wellington, New Zealand

If you live in Wellington, we can almost guarantee that you have eaten bread from Arobake. Max, founder and master baker, discusses the creativity that exists in the balance of exactness and freedom in baking. 

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Arobake has been a staple of the community since 1989. During our time in New Zealand, people we met told us a few consistent things about this spot. People around Wellington drive across town to the shop and get their bread directly from the source. And, when a cafe has Arobake pastries, you know its high quality. Treats from this spot set the bar high in a city where cafes and coffee rule.

We were excited to learn about the story behind the iconic bakery from Master-baker and founder, Max Fuhrer. Early on a Tuesday morning, we walked down to Aro Valley, not far from the famous Holloway Road and into the unassuming bakery. Sitting on the patio with a cappuccino and pastry in front of each of us, we spent the morning chatting casually about Max's interest in baking, his training, and the inspiration he finds from the constraints of a recipe.

When Arobake got started in 1989, just across the street from where the bakery is today, there "was no branding ... we had these self serve cabinets that we taped closed because we didn't want people to self serve." He seemed almost shocked by the success but despite what may it looked like from the outside, word got out, and the product sold itself.

Max - Arobake

Max, born and raised in New Zealand, grew up enjoying the traditional cooking of his German mother and Swiss father. Family continues to be is very important to Max. A father to six, he lives right behind the bakery so that he can scoot back for lunch to visit with his younger kids. The older kids have all spend time working at the bakery and one of his sons now looks after the day bakery.

As a kid himself, at 13, Max and his family travelled to Europe. He remembers that it was there that he first got the idea to be a baker. Yes, at just 13 years old, he knew his calling. After high school, he started an apprenticeship with a baker in Johnsonville, further igniting his passion. After completing his hours, he studied at a trade school in Zurich and credits the time he spend there for his work ethic and attention to detail.

Max’s relaxed New Zealand training, mixed with the discipline he acquired in Switzerland seem to be a powerful combination. The delicate balance of exactness and constraints fuels the creativity in his baking.

"One leads to another. If you're in a regimented thing and everything is organized, it frees you up to be creative … it's like scales musicians do. I know the basic formula for a loaf of break: X amount of water and X amount of flour, but then you can add different things to it or you can change the fermentation process to enhance the flavor. You have those basics and you can quite easily write a bread recipe. I just made a bread with chocolate and brandy fig. It's quite crazy, when you toast it, the smell! We’re always trying to do different things."

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While experimentation is important, he also made sure to clarify the importance of consistency, particularly in bread-making. “For the bakers, we expect it to be done one way. So we sell to cafes and bakeries around the city, so consistency is key."  One of the challenges came as the bakery grew and he had to hire more staff. "Letting things go was hard at the beginning, but you're better off investing in people." Today, Max feels more "like a businessman now," and spend much of his time mentoring his team.

Now, if you haven’t already, go grab a cup of coffee and a pastry from this divine mecca of carbs.

Woods Bar and Brewery

Our first Friday night in Oakland, we wandered along Telegraph Avenue, peeking in bars, restaurants, and shops. Gathering on the corner of 17th Street, a raucous brass band played a tune on the street and marched right into Woods Brewery. We couldn’t help but follow.

The band played all night long, and as each hour and beer passed, people of all ages became increasingly energized to get out of their seats and dance with everyone around.

Since that Friday night, we’ve come back countless times and have never been disappointed. Whether it’s a jazz trio, New Orleans style brass band, or 15-person funk group, their music curation has a way of getting people to dance and make friends with complete strangers.

Tired of sitting at the same bar each weekend but don’t feel like paying a cover at a crowded dance club? Shake up the routine and go to Woods Brewery on Telegraph and 17th. The beer is solid, empanadas tasty, and you’re guaranteed to make new friends dancing along to some of the best live music this side of the bay. You won’t regret it.

Octopus Literary Salon

Oakland, CA

A gem in Oakland. Come here for inspiration and to share your work.

Octopus Literary Salon in uptown Oakland has all parts of the creative process covered: come to get inspired, to collaborate, create, and to share your latest creative endeavor. 

It's both easy and difficult to describe this place. Octopus Literary Salon is part cafe, part gallery, part music venue, part new/used bookstore, and more.

 
The Alley

Part karaoke bar, part dive, and part cocktail lounge, The Alley is an Oakland watering hole like none other. Writer Kimberly Chun described it as being designed by “a drunken Walt Disney”, and we can’t say we disagree.

Order a martini (best deal in town), take a seat close to the piano, and prepare to be transported to the 1920s. Feel free to request a song, but you better not ask for the latest pop hit. You’ll want to sing a tune from the Great American Songbook, with something by the likes of Cole Porter or George Gershwin.

If you come on the right night, you might just find a favorite Alley regular leaning against the piano. Close your eyes and his voice will make you think Frank Sinatra has come back from the dead.

Temescal Brewery
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Amongst the wave of new breweries popping up in the East Bay, Oakland’s Temescal Brewing stands a cut above the rest. Mouth watering IPAs and Pale Ales are one reason they are a local favorite, but it’s their focus on fostering a sense of community and collaboration that caught the eye of Place Makes. Whether it’s providing space for local Oakland businesses during their “Shops Sale”, providing space for fundraisers during Queer First Fridays, or hosting a recent launch party for Undertone Mag (a new magazine for women of color), or the whimsical ambiance (an outdoor patio complete with a colorful @slowcoolassault mural, and indoor steeting with @merylpataky “no jerks” neon piece, and paper shaped by @bboowwsss), Temescal Brewing is the ideal place for a creative meeting of the minds.

Our Favorite Beers:

  • Guava Boat: Pale Ale with Pink Guavas (5%)
  • Through the Fog: Scotch Ale (5.6%)