We’ve of course often professed our love for Budapest, and if we’re to choose one of the many reasons for this it’s that Budapest is a city where you can start your Saturday casually munching on Finnish salmon soup- well, we’re not ridiculous enough to have that for breakfast, but Saturdays are allowed to start late, namely at noon, when the gates of the Finnish embassy were opened to allow entry to the ever growing number of soup enthusiasts who attend the yearly Restaurant Day event.
I have shared my love for this undertaking several times already, and can confirm that just as mentioned last year, the weather was brilliant yet again, the organizers again made sure that queuing for hot soup in the sun is as pleasant as such a project can ever get, there was quirky Finnish music and we even got to inspect mölkky more closely. Still have no idea how it works, but some babies figured it out, so it should be a piece of cake for people with marginal practical skills. Speaking of the cake-this year we were treated with rhubarb tart and it was splendid. Incidentally, Finland turns 100 this December, so there was an added celebratory element to the feast- in an example of Finnish ingenuity, one of the festive ribbons was safely secured to a bush with a spade. Somehow related to this penchant for sturdiness and functionality, the embassy lobby has a collection of historical Nokias of which the 3310 looks like still having a couple lines of battery.
One might not closely associate the consumption of soup with that of beer, but out of the dozens of options we had for the remainder of the day, we went for the second Kraft Beer Fest, happening, well, at the end of the world, but the end of the world is in Budapest still and can be approached by spending a good amount of time on tram 28A, which leaves from Blaha Lujza square. This proved to be doubly fortuitous, as we had some time to spare and could have the season’s first Campari orange in the newly opened Typo bar, just behind the Corvin shopping centre. There is a definite whiff of Berlin to the set up, and there will surely be people crying hipsters! and gentrification! about it, but our first impression was positive and we plan to return to better inspect the food and drinks options, and perhaps the in-house clothes shop too.
We disembarked from the 28A on Maglódi út, which has historically been the heart of Budapest’s beer brewing. The brick building commissioned in 1912 for the Fővárosi Sörfőző Rt is sadly lying in disrepair, with some bits unused, and others given over to totally unrelated activities. The new wave of Hungarian craft beer makers has however given a new lease of life to a part of the complex, and the so-called Főzdepark now hosts four of the country’s top breweries: Horizont, HopTop, Monyo and Mad Scientist.
The festival thus takes place very literally in the breweries’ front yard and as such is probably the geekiest of all of Budapest’s numerous beer fests. There is a professional tent which hosts talks on brewing related topics and all breweries offer guided tours for free- we went for the Mad Scientist one and you’ll therefore be able to revel in wonderful metal containers that in very convoluted ways turn water into happiness, which we could taste straight from the tank in the form of a foamy and smooth Jam52. Besides the above mentioned local breweries, there are taps from other stars of the Hungarian scene such as Hedon and Balkezes, and two guest breweries from abroad the Catalan Cerveses La Pirata and Edge Brewing.
There are some food stands too- not very many, but carefully selected, such as outposts of burger specialists Zing and Balkan grill champions PolaPola and the number of taps is not overwhelming either, but the quality is excellent throughout. As the event takes places far away from the touristy centre, the number of people accidentally dropping in to get plastered is minimal, and it gives you the pleasant feeling of being among like minded people who enjoy good beers and drinking them in a fairly responsible manner. Extra points for the music as well, which is neither too loud, nor of the soul crushing knob fiddler variety, oft favoured by festival organizers. The conclusion is that this might just be our favourite beer festival of the city and we warmly recommend it to anyone who knows that life only begins beyond Dreher and Heineken.