I shan’t waste time with some sort of elongated intro, I promise. This is a comprehensive list of where to drink beer in the lands that once comprised Yugoslavia. From Ljubljana to Skopje (with a few spots north and south of each), these are your best bets when it comes to drinking beer. The only real rule is no 0.33ml lager monstrosities. I’ll keep updating this over time, or at least I will do that until I quit beer altogether. So, without further ado, in alphabetical (by republic) order…
Bosnia & Herzegovina
Illyricum is fantastic and is found under the main square, you just need to go down the steps (the only steps) and walk to the left past the cinema and pizzeria, continue down the path until you find the sign. Don’t be fooled by the ‘Beer Bar’, that’s a Tuborg wasteland. Illyricum has a decent run of its own craft beers that are all decent. The Master Craft Brewery offers something a little shinier, with a professional sheen to go with its in-house brews.
The only place in town to get a decent beer is the Gradska Pivnica, but expect it to be loud and loud and loud. Libar Book & Bar also does large Pans in bottle (as in the Croatian beer ‘Pan’, not actual pans). Bella Italia is an Italian restaurant with a selection of Bosnian craft beers.
There are Irish Pubs everywhere, that is for sure. There is one in Bijeljina, it is called Irish Pub Dublin, it was pretty much the only thing I enjoyed in the city. Sorry Bijeljina.
I’ve no idea what it has to do with Hemingway, but Hemingway Pub serves the local Raft Beer and it is pretty damn decent. Nikšićko on tap as well. Kelt Pub is the town’s resident Irish Pub and has Nikšičko on tap, along with about 4034 different WiFi networks (few of which work). Massive collection of glasses (for drinking, not gawping) behind the bar. Draught can be hit and miss. Vizantija is on the other side of the river, is newly opened, has Raft Beer in the fridge and the added bonus of being a favourite of the brains behind the local craft.
The Black Dog is the place for beer in Mostar, with a great old town location (that still manages to be somewhat hidden), friendly staff (super friendly owner) and great beer. Right above the pub we now find #imaimoze Craft Beer Garden, which is a delighful place despite the name. On the other side of the city, Beer Ti & Ja has a fairly comprehensive selection of local crafts, and Shankly’s Pub is the best British-style boozer. Elsewhere, Stari Grad Cafe is right next to the bridge, and while it isn’t a classic beer location it remains somewhere I always visit. Don’t get drunk and take photos of Safet.
Hah! Good luck.
Green Pub has friendly staff and a decent pub atmosphere, with Jelen on tap.
Strangely enough, Sarajevo is a bit of a black hole for me when it comes to beer. This will change in the future, now that I’ve committed to writing this. I’d suggest nipping into Laundro Lounge and asking Juliet for some tips. I generally stop at Board Room for a Gelender or two when in town, before trudging up Vratnik to drink beer on the terrace of Haris Hostel. The view of the city is stunning, bloody stunning. Vučko also has a great beer list and is something of a homage to everyone’s favourite Winter Olympics mascot fox.
Silvertown Brewery is close to the bus station, and while it isn’t a pub it is still somewhere you can nip into to say hello and buy some craft beers. When I was last there they were renovating the destroyed Pivnica in the centre of town (by the Konzum), so watch this space.
The prettiest city in Bosnia & Herzegovina? I’m not going to disagree with that, but good beer is still rather thin on the ground in these parts. Luckily for everyone, Oz Craft Beer is on hand to fix that. The nano-brewery is open for drinkers between the hours of 3pm and 8pm from Thursday to Sunday. To find it, walk out of the city past the football stadium, prison and Hotel Nar, and then head down the long road to Dubrovnik. Luckily you only need to walk 50 metres or so and then look to your left, where you’ll see the big Oz Craft Beer logo. Then get over there and drink beer. If you’d rather stop in the city centre, Sportski Bar serves Humsko pivo from time to time.
Pivara Tuzla, obviously? Tuzlanski is the city beer and it is best enjoyed directly at the brewery and its pub-restaurant. Park Pub has a decent little spot on the main drag, with draught beer and a little terrace onto the park. I suppose that explains the name.
Your only half decent option is the Pivnica in Andrićgrad. Everything else is small bottles and nothingness.
Split has a decent run of craft beer spots, no surprise considering the city’s modernity and popularity. Leopold’s Delicatessen wins best name (and best selection), while Plan B backs up excellent beer with good pub grub. For all else, there is the magnificent old town spot that is Marvlvs.
Despite being called Bourbon Street, this spot has a decent selection of ales and some nice outdoor seating. Bar Čaršija could quite easily be in Belgrade and is bloody brilliant in the summer.
Kruševo might be Macedonia’s prettiest town, but it is a bit of a graveyard for decent beer. Strangely enough, Hotel Scorpion is the best spot, with big Laškos in the fridge. The owner is an absolute hero as well, doubling up his role as hotel owner with a stint as ticket-seller in the town’s bus station.
Irish Pub Dublin is the obvious spot, with a magic spot on the lake and plenty of good food to go with the decent beer.
Take Five Jazz Bar was pretty much the only decent place for beer I came across in Prilep, which is a shame because the town is an absolute delight.
The capital is the wackiest city in North Macedonia, and has plenty of places to drink acceptable-sized beers. Pivnica Star Grad is an obvious place to start, with a champion position at the top of the Old Bazaar. Kolektiv is on the city’s main square and is surprisingly cheery as a result, with some great local beers and good food. I will also go against my no-small beer rule and throw some love over to Mickitos, because of the magnificent staff and absolutely adorable atmosphere.
Victorian Pub is your only option, and I do not say that with any hint of irony. Still, plenty of lager, wheat beer and the rest, nice place. Outside of that, restaurants are your best bet. There is an Irish Pub here that doesn’t serve booze, make of that what you will.
Right, where to start? Should I do this by neighbourhood? That might get a little excessive, so lets identify some decent city centre spots and few options for further afield. I generally visit Gunners Pub 100% of the time I find myself in Belgrade, and all beer lovers should do the same. Miners Pub is in the same part of town, has a darling basement location and two (count ‘em, two) dartboards. Samo Pivo is what it says on the tin. The Black Turtle has a number of locations across the centre. Dogma Brewery and Tap Room is way out of the city close to Ada Ciganlija, and I can vouch for its excellence. Boris and I got very drunk there once, it was beautiful. But seriously, its Belgrade, there are like a million good places for beer. Zaokret still takes the cake when it comes to Cetinjska.
Sputnik 1957 baby! A little difficult to find (for idiots like me). It is situated up a short bank between two concrete monoliths. There isn’t a huge amount of seating inside, but the craft beer is varied and consistently excellent, and the staff were immensely cheery. Win win. Draft Pub was intimidating as heck the first time I went there, but I ended up having a bloody decent time thanks to conversations with staff about Kraljevo. Bottles of Zaječarsko rule the roost.
The Serbian military scared the bejeezus out of me in Kraljevo, so I was too scared to drink beer anywhere other than my excellent hotel (which really was excellent). If anyone has any recommendations, speak up now.
My friends Jovanka, Mina and Vesna told me to go to Grizzly, and I was not disappointed. There’s a massive Grizzly (not real) by the bar, need I say more? Not beer related, but Kafeterija BUT makes the best Americano in Serbia. Fact.
Niš is bloody magnificent, as long as we’re talking about its food and its nightlife and not its immensely disappointing Skull Tower. Ministarstvo got me immensely drunk on my first night there a couple of years back, with a wide range of local and international crafts. Pivnica Nemir is my favourite, the Serbian lagers on tap were decent and the music was solidly grunge. Can’t really go wrong with that. Labeerint is also good.
If you find a decent place to drink beer in Novi Pazar, you are a better man or woman than me. I enjoyed an evening at City Pub, but the Tuborg had nothing to do with that.
Shamrock Bar was super good to me despite Wales losing to Ireland in the rugby on that day. dom b-612 was even better to me when I was on the book tour. Gradska Pivnica has plenty of room and plenty of its own beer, while Mazut Pub is the place to go for some of that crafty goodness.
Liverpool fans, get yourselves to Subotica, pronto tonto. There is a Liverpool Pub, with walls covered of all things Kop. There is also a branch of Samo Pivo in town.
Pivnica Golos is pretty much your only option, which is a shame considering Valjevsko is one of the better Serbo-pivos.
Vranje’s Shamrock Pub has lagers on tap, but more importantly it has an ACTUAL DARTBOARD in the basement. Yes, an actual dartboard. Bring your arrows folks, bring your arrows.
You’ll have to give me a minute here. Towards the top of Gimnazijska there is a small bar with photos of books all over the walls. I can’t remember the name, but it is pretty unassuming, with excellent wheat Zaječarsko on tap. Lion Pub gets most of the plaudits, but I enjoyed the burger more than the beer.
I’m fairly sure that if you turn up in Bloke and announce your arrival, you will become immediately inebriated. There is no good beer place here, but I’m giving it some shine anyway. Bloke is my favourite place in Slovenia, which I base on one drunken afternoon in January 2015.
Another in the list of ‘underrated Slovenian cities’, Koper is way cooler than its industrial reputation suggest. Bar Cameral is a little delight with good beers and some great shirts.
Layerjeva Hiša ticks every box you might need when staying in Kranj. Beer Pub is also decent, although it loses points for an uninspiring name. Kranj is super underrated.
Patrick’s Irish Pub is my favourite Irish Pub in the region and then some. They always have a great selection of beer and this is far and away the best place in town to watch sport and imbibe. They even stock some Welsh beers, which is bloody brilliant. Daktari is a top spot for a Human Fish or two. Sir William’s is a bit of a classic too. I’m yet to get to any of the newer spots, so watch this space.
Black & White Cat Pub for me, although it was the sort of place that gave a vibe of ‘going out of business at any time’. It has soft-tip darts, if you’re into that sort of thing. Pub Beli Konj is also good, with a very ‘Continental Yorkshire’ vibe.
John Bills writes books about Eastern Europe, tomes covering history, travel, booze and the rest. These magical pieces of literary competency can be purchased at this link, so get yourself over there and do the right thing. Pay attention to the discounts.