A colleague of mine at the Wien Museum (Vienna’s city history museum) asked me over lunch today about some of my favourite places to have a beer in Vienna. It was a fitting question. He had recently participated in a learn-to-brew day at Brauwerk and has kindled an interest in beers beyond his favourite styles. It was also a timely question. Today was my last day at the Wien Museum. Two years in this fine city, and five days left.
As any regular reader of Tempest has probably noticed, I don’t normally do “best of” lists. But today I’ll make an exception. Maybe you, like me two years ago, have arrived in Vienna to work for one of Vienna’s many top-notch cultural institutions or international organizations. Perhaps you’re winding down a trip through Europe with a few days in Vienna. Maybe you’re a student who has arrived from abroad for a semester at one of Vienna’s many colleges and universities. Whatever the case may be, right about now you probably need a beer.
This is not a comprehensive guide to all that is new, hip, and happening on Vienna’s beer scene. Rather, this is a very personal tour of my favourite locales, places where I’ve taken old friends and made new ones.
Located in Vienna’s gritty 15th District (Rudolfsheim-Fünfhausen), Hawidere attracts a mixed crowd of beer enthusiasts and locals out for a drink. Hawidere pays tribute to an old Viennese salutation (“Hab’ die Ehre”) that means something along the lines of “I’m honoured to meet you.” The name of the pub may well be redolent of Alt Wien and the ambience evocative of a traditional Viennese tavern (Beisl), but the good people at Hawidere are very much attuned to the moment. A continually rotating selection of fourteen beers on tap and roughly seventy bottled varieties comprise the cutting-edge selection of beer from around Austria, Europe, and beyond. You’ll also find brews from “Collabs,” the owners’ own nomad label featuring (you guessed it) collaborations with breweries across Europe. And if you’re hungry? They have some of the heartiest burgers anywhere.
In a city that has seen the likes of Brickworks and Mel’s Craft Beers and Diner pull in the craft beer crowd with admirable beer portfolios at (super) premium prices, it’s refreshing to see that the old-school Kängaruh still manages to keep a lid on things. But it’s not just the extremely fair prices that make Kängaruh so special. If Belgian beer is your thing, you won’t find a better range of styles and bottlings anywhere outside of Brussels. The candlelight ambience within and the small terrace outside invite you to dream of Belgium while sipping on a Cantillon, a Westy XII, or any other Belgian beer you haven’t heard of yet. A true gem of a place on the eastern edge of Vienna’s 6th District (Mariahilf).
1516 Brewing Company
Considering just how close this excellent brew pub is to where I worked for the past two years, it’s a shame I didn’t stop in more often. Lunches here were always a fine proposition: ample portions of North American-style pub food with an Austrian twist, and an ever-changing menu of creative beers to wash it all down. If you’re one of those who has an inexplicable allergic reaction to the German Reinheitsgebot (Beer Purity Laws) promulgated in 1516, fear not: you’ll be able to find your jasmine IPA here. But that doesn’t mean you won’t find some superb Central European-style beers brewed according to that very Reinheitsgebot to which 1516’s name refers. If you can’t make it for lunch, stop by in the evening. You won’t be alone.
Few other al fresco drinking spots in Vienna combine shaded chestnut groves, roasted pork knuckles, conviviality, and freshly tapped Bohemian beer (Budweiser Budvar) the way the Schweizerhaus does. If it’s warm and sunny and you have time to go nowhere else in Vienna for a drink, go here.
*For more on the history of the Schweizerhaus and its Prater surroundings, check out my Exploring Vienna’s Beer Gardens
Say you’ve just spent the day exploring the stately rooms and sprawling manicured gardens of Schloss Schönbrunn. You could do much worse than to quench your thirst at Medlbräu in nearby Penzing (Vienna’s 14th District). Medlbräu is one of the older “Hausbrauerein” (brew pubs) in Vienna, and they don’t venture far from the tried-and-true classics. For those of you missing full-flavoured lagers and maybe a decent Hefeweizen to top things off, this place is like an oasis in a town where it’s surprisingly hard to find a compelling Helles, Dunkles, or Märzen.
Five nights left as the sun sets on my two years in Vienna. Cheers to your first five days here!
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All images by F.D. Hofer.
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