Beer has moved up in the world from its humble beginnings. The new boutique breed of beer, craft beer – interesting, progressive beers made by small-scale breweries – has people standing at bars, holding their honey or chocolate coloured beer up to natural light, sticking their nose in the glass, finally taking a swig and talking for 10 minutes about the potent note of lychee they tasted in it. Beer is the new wine.
An increasing number of Vienna bars are specialising in craft beer. With the help of Micky Klemsch – craft beer enthusiast who's behind the Craft Beer Fest and Biorama magazine – we’ve compiled a list of Vienna’s 10 best spots to buy and drink craft beer.
Best places to drink Craft beer
Yppenplatz 4 serves up a range of their own fresh and aromatic specialty brews, all concocted by the Braumeister of Brauwerk (a micro-brewery offshoot of Vienna’s local beer brewers, Ottakringer), Martin Simion. Often off traveling the world studying the dark arts of brewing, Martin is a beer sage, and it’s seems the service staff are his pupils judging by the on tap history, and all-round knowledge they display during our beer tasting. Katarina walks me through the beers – from the honey-coloured and smooth beer, Blonde, to the fruity and full-bodied Session IPA. So if you don’t know your craft beer, this is a good place to get educated. Their selection is made up of several year-round beers, alongside a range of seasonal specials – all of which you can take home in a bottle.
The multi-tiered beer box stands out in the middle of Yppenplatz, and inside the polished industrial theme is just as crisp and refreshing as the beer. The small balcony terrace on the 3rd floor is a great spot to watch life below at the nearby Brunnenmarkt. The kitchen is like a Würstelstand that has experienced the same fate as beer – sold out and gone fancy. The artisan sausage creations are delicious, however. Meanwhile, the prices here are respectable.
Craft beer of choice: The interestingly sour, malty Flanders Red (be sure to do the tasting at the back of your mouth, not on the tip of your tongue to avoid too much sourness).
Seidl (0.3l) = 3.60 €
Würstel of choice + salad, bread, ketchup and mustard = 6.90 €
“Would you like a menu, der Herr?” the waitress askes the passing old man.
“No, I already have it in my head”, he mumbles back.
The waitress laughs and remarks that she likes that, and we do too. We’d safely say that if your customers are memorising your menu, it’s a healthy sign that you’re doing something right.
The Lichtenthalerbräu is a creative craft beer brewery in the body of a warm Gasthaus (tavern/pub). In amidst its cosy atmosphere (which hits you before you even walk in from its dark maroon facade outside) you can sip on a regularly changing selection of 4 or more craft beers right next to where the action happens – the copper brewing barrel plonked at the head of the dining room. All of the beers are brewed by the Braumeister (except the occasional guest beer) who obviously lives up to the claim in the menu – “the beer is handmade with a lot of love.” These words ring true to the Lichtenthalerbräu, in general.
There’s also a permenant resident beer, the Lichtenthaler Helles – unfiltered (like all the beer brewed here) pale lager which goes down a treat. I also feast on a pint of the Rosemary IPA (a spiced Indian Pale Ale containing wild Slovakian Rosemary), and when we say feast, we mean it. It’s a meal in itself, with a deliciously malty and chocolaty flavor.
Most of the menu here could be categorised as your typical Viennese kitchen found in a Gasthaus, but there are also the odd surprises, like the blue cheese burger.
Craft beer of choice: Because the menu is changing, we’d recommend you just read the elaborate descriptions which accompany each beer in the menu.
Lichtenthaler Helles = 3.70 €
Blue cheese burger = 9.20 €
Malefitz is the place to head if you specifically want to taste local craft beer brews. Stocking an 84 (and growing) beer stong selection of Austrian microbreweries, alongwith a few curious imports, Malefitz is an intimate spot where you’ll be spoiled for delicious choice in the amber (or chocolate brown, or honey-coloured, or woody red) beverage. And while the choice can be overwhelming, this is the perfect setting owned by the perfect people, Alexander Fitz, to help you narrow down the choice, and learn a barrel load about beer.
Craft beer of choice: Black IPA
Average price for bottled beer is 2.90 €
The shiny beer taps lining the bar are just the beginning. Over 400 sorts of craft beer are housed behind there. Stylistically and geographically diverse, the range includes almost anything from Rogue American Amber Ale, to a page of Indian Pale Ales.
As well as some of the best micro-brewery brews from Germany, Italy, Holland and Belgium, you’ll find many rare beers from the USA. There’s also a few rarely heard of ciders and stouts in the mix. The mammoth list makes choosing a hard task. That’s where the ever-so-competent waiter comes in.
And while the tacky American connotation with the word diner cannot be found anywhere in the looks of the place, the diner theme can be found in the menu, right next to the Club Sandwich and the Chicken Ceasar Salad. But there’s nothing tacky about the food here. Read our full review, here.
Craft beer of choice: the malty, spicy Belgium ale, Der Verboden Vrucht
The average price for a beer ranges from 6–8 €
Walking into the Brickmakers Ale & Cider House (we’ll call it Brickies for short) is like we’ve died and entered a blissful state of Beervana. Boasting 150 bottled beers, 29 beers on tap and 5 pages of menu made up of exclusive and elusive artisan brewskies from all around the world – Brickies is Vienna’s first craft beer temple, home to the largest beer collection in Austria. In a pub, that is.
The prices of the beer may make some scream WTF!?, but it’s worth remembering that these beers are some of the best in the world – authentic artisan ales brewed by independent breweries with quality ingredients. And the poster girl of the ale world – the unpasteurized, gasless Cask Ale – will make any serious beer drinker squeal when the bar staff squirt it out like a sprinkler into a glass.
And what goes better with beer than a good ol’ fashioned BBQ – Texas style (said with exaggerated Southern American accent). The crowd who smoked up next to the Donaukanal in the summer of 2014, Big Smoke, take care of the food menu at Brickies, with their smoked low and slow style Texas BBQ. Read our full review, here.
Craft beer of choice: The fruity, golden and creamy Cask Ale, Tiny rebel – One Inch Punch
0.4l Tiny rebel – One Inch Punch = 7 €
0.5l Pilsner Urquell fresh and direct from the tank = 4.30 €
Fassldippler is a new-age Wirtshaus (founded in 2014) housed in an old school Wirtshaus (since 1906) in the heart of the 4th district. It boasts a huge regularly changing choice of Austrian craft beers, as well as a decent selection on tap. There were almost too many choices of beer so we relied on the knowledgeable waiters to help guide us. The menu holds standard Austrian food but with lots of seasonal dishes.
We’d have to agree with their claim that it’s a meeting place “for one and all who enjoy the Wirtshaus atmosphere, are interested in craft beer and like the sound of a unpretentious kitchen”.
Craft beer on choice: The selection here is changing regularly so just do what we did and ask the waiter for a recommendation.
Beer on tap = 3.70–3.90 €
Bottled beer = 3.70–12 €
In its fourteen years of existence, the slightly hidden Hawidere in the 15th District has turned into quite an institution. The beer and burger restaurant is a typical Viennese Gasthaus with a twist.
Besides the lush and inviting Schanigarten (complete with self-grown tomatoes in beer crates), the interior will have you discovering plenty of fun, subtle details (we advise you go looking for the Craftkammer). Hawidere is known for its mouthwateringly delicious and multi-layered burgers, and its vast and equally mouthwatering craft beer collection.
Alongside a core craft beer collection of beer from all over the world, there’s a carefully curated range of seasonal brews. Their selections in the different breeds of craft beer from stouts, to IPAs, to Porters anre more are strong, and always lead to new tastes in beer being discovered.
While listening to Bertl – one of the owners – talk enthusiastically about the art of crafting beer and sipping away at our oh-so-refreshing sour beer, we can’t help but agree with his claim – "Hawidere feels like one of the last living-rooms in Vienna".
Pssst, insider tip: Hawidere is in the process of creating a new craft beer in collaboration with the famous Thornbridge Brewery.
Pssst, insider info: The name Hawidere comes from a dialect pronunciation of "Habe die Ehre," which is a greeting that means "I have the honour".
Plus: a portion of the profits made from the sale of the regularly changing “Soli beer” (which stands for solidarity beer) at Hawidere go towards the Wiener Integrationshaus.
Craft beer of choice: DomRep Pils, the strawberry Rubus or one of the sour beers. And always trust the staff's advice when choosing what brew goes best with your food.
DomRep Pils = 2/3 pint 4.80 €
Meantime Coffee Porter = 0,3 6,80 €
The best spots to buy craft beer
Beer Store Vienna
Where: Wilhelmstraße 23, 1120
Opening times: Mon: closed; Tue–Fri: 12pm–8pm; Sat: 10am–6pm
Vienna Wüstelstand says: With beers changing weekly here, it’s a new experience each time. In sum there are about 200 beers to choose from, which have already been hand-selected by trained beer sommeliers. If you can’t wait until you get home, you can pop open a bottle in store for the shelf price. Also, if you want to see the friendly staff’s eye’s light up, ask them to do a beer tasting.
Craft beer aficionado, Micky Klemsch says: Good selection, fair prices, and the best advice on craft beer can be found here from Johannes Grohs (who boasts a diploma as a beer sommelier)
Where: Wiedner Hauptstraße 140, 1050
Opening times: Mon–Fri: 9am–6pm; Sat: 9am–3pm; Sun: closed
Vienna Würstelstand says: Where else would you expect to find the largest range of craft beer than at the store of the city’s largest drinks supplier, Ammersin. At their store Magazin 5, the selection reaches from the obscure to the favourites of the craft beer world. If you can’t find what you’re looking for here, you probably won’t find it at all in this city.
Craft beer aficionado, Micky Klemsch says: This store hosts the biggest (craft) beer selection in Austria (maybe the world).
Where: Josefstädter Straße 27, 1080
Opening times: Mon–Fri: 11am–6pm
Vienna Wüstelstand says: This place seems to get better every time we visit. Here you’ll find several rare finds in amongst their 600 beers on offer. There are also 6 beers on tap, and a delicious international menu which is always changing. This is a real favourite amongst those who appreciate good food and good beer.
Craft beer aficionado, Micky Klemsch says: Here you have to meet Stefan Kreid, and ask for his recommendation regarding good beers. And you should also let him cook for you!