Last Updated : 08/01/08
ooking back at the problems we had five years ago when I visited there's almost an embarrassment of options to reach Slovenia these days; easyJet fly to Ljubljana, Slovenia is a lot easier to get to than it used to be... plus Ryanair now go to Maribor out in the Northeast too or you could even go with them to Graz and train it over the border... or how about Wizzair to Zagreb and then a train north from there? See, the possibilities are endless!
We did 3 days in the country during early 2003 on a combined railways and beer move, and our limited knowledge is reproduced here. Paul "Euroscooper" Harrop knows a lot more than we did, see his website for a list of the growing number of micros and brewpubs in this interesting country which was untroubled by the Balkans war and is now a part of the European Union - including the adoption of the Euro in 2007.
Most beer is made by Union brewery in Ljubljana which now appears to have some connection with Laško. The ordinary beers are standard lagers but of the specialist ones Črni Baron 6% (Black Baron) is an excellent rich caramelly drink, sadly never seen on draught, only in 33cl bottles. Union also brew various beers under contract, such as Gösser of Austria, most of which were pretty dire.
The large brewery in Laško - which also owns breweries in Croatia at Split (sampled) and maybe also at Varaždin (not seen) - makes pretty mundane standard lagers which are actually better on draught; their temno pivo (semi-dark beer) was the best we sampled. The other beers tended to be on the bland side although the standard lager was a lot better when served on draught for some reason; maybe it was unpasteurised?
We visited two brewpubs in Ljubljana, the first being Kratochwill by the main station. The two standard beers here were superb; the Svetlo (pale) beer tasted like Roosters with loads of Slovenian Goldings, and the Temno was really a Crno it was so dark and rich with chocolate malt. At the time I said it was my favourite dark lager, but much water has passed under the bridge since... I'd really like to try it again just to see if it really was that good! Brewing has now moved from the Kolodvorska site to one at Šmartinska cesta 152 and they now own three pubs (including the original at Kolodvorska and one in the E’Lecrerc mall). Prices were about Ł1 for 500ml which is average for Ljubljana.
The other brewpub we visited was Adam Ravbar in a suburb to the north west of Ljubljana. It’s actually almost opposite Rodica station, not Domžale as the address says, beware! (the trains are destination Kamnik, run about every hour from Ljubljana (xx:15 generally), and take around 26 minutes to reach Rodica). Just leave the tiny station and walk down the road opposite - it's on the left. The very visible brewplant (installed by SALM of Vienna) shone in this restaurant-style pub and the beers were svetlo and temno, both very drinkable, but not as good as those at Kratochwill. Takeaway bottles were available, including 2 litre ones, something of a rarity in the brewpubs we visited and overall Adam Ravbar was definitely worth the visit.
There are plenty more brewpubs to visit, but these will have to wait until our next trip, which is still being discussed... There seems to be no end to the brewpub revolution in Slovenia so now seems to be a good time to go and experience it's charms.
Breweries we scooped -