Bulgaria don´t have a long tradition of drinking beer but was rather an imported culture from Central Europe in the late 20th century, before that Rakia (The world of Rakija) and wine was a much more popular beverage to drink, not that any of these beverage are any less popular today but beer has become a natural beverage in the Bulgarian culture. In fact most Bulgarians doesn’t recognize beer as a strong alcohol and will look very surprised if you try to make a toast with a beer.
The summer is here and in Bulgaria the summer gets really hot with temperature that can reach up to 35-40 degrees. Many Bulgarians leave the warm cities to go to forests, mountains and the sea side. Anyhow, no matter where you are in Bulgaria during the summer its nice to enjoy a cold beer. This is a brief introduction to the different beers of Bulgaria.
This beer has its root in the tradition of Czech beer making. In 1902 a Bulgarian doctor returned from Prague and founded the Zagorka in the city of Stara Zagora. The name comes from the artificial lake next to the city. Zagorka Brewery was founded in 1958, but was bought by Heineken in 1994. The label of the beer bottle was first written in Cyrillic letters but since the 1990´s the label is with Latin letters.
Zagorka comes in three different variations; Zagorka Reserve which is a dark beer flavored with berries, 6% alcohol, Zagorka Fusion a light beer and a flavor of grapes, 2% alcohol, and Zagorka Special that is a lager and has 5% alcohol. Zagorka Brewery also produce the beer brands Ariana, Gold and Stolichno without Heineken. Zagorka is one of the most popular beer in Bulgaria.
In Bulgarian; Шуменско пиво. This beer goes back to 1882 when Franz Milde, a master brewer from the Czech republic met some merchants in the town of Shumen. Together they founded the Bulgarian Brewing Association (Българско пивоварно дружество) on October 26th. In 2002 the Danish company Carlsberg bought Shumensko, however, because Shumensko has been brewed for such a long time, the brand is a symbol of quality.
Shumensko comes in four different flavors; Shumensko Light 4,3% alcohol, Shumensko Premiun 5% alcohol, Shumensko Dark 5,5% alcohol (this beer is only available during the winter) and Shumensko Twist which comes in three different flavors- grapefruit with , orange and lemon with 2% alcohol (this beer is only available during summer time).
The label is written with Cyrillic letters on the glass bottles but written with Latin letters on the cans and plastic bottles. Shumensko produced a red ale in the beginning of the 2000 but only for a short time, which was rare since not many Bulgarian companies produce red ale. Shumensko became the first beer in 2003 that offered a bottle with an easy opening cap in Bulgaria.
In 1881 the city of Plovdiv got a visitation from three entrepreneurs from Switzerland that built a brewery in the city. They built it on a hill named Kamenitza and that´s how the beer company got its name. At first they just produced lager but later on they developed a dark version. In the 1890´s the company won awards for the beer at international exhibitions, Brussels and Chicago. In 1947 did the Socialist Party nationalized the beer company, and in 1995 did the Belgium company InBew bought the Kamenitza brewery. Between 1996-2005, InBew invested 86,3 million Leva in Bulgaria which resulted that Kamenitza became the best-selling domestic beer in 2005 with 800, 000 hectoliters sold.
Today its being owned by Molson Coors and are a sponsor of the Bulgaria National Football Team. The company has a big variety of beers. They are brewing light beer with 4,4% alcohol, dark beer with 6% alcohol, non-alcoholic, wheat and Fresh with a flavor of lemon and grapefruit with 2,1% alcohol.
Pirinsko is named after the nearby mountains of Pirin close to the brewery. It was founded in 1969 in Blegoevgrad but is today owned by Carlsberg Company. Many Bulgarians like this beer because of the fresh water from the mountains that are being used in the brewery of this beer. It is a classic pilsner.
White Stork- Pale Ale
White Stork is the newest beer company that´s been founded in Bulgaria. They started their work in 2011 and in 2014 they gave Bulgaria a new beer- a pale ale. At the moment the beer is being brewed in Belgium but will move to a brewery building in Sofia soon. White Stork is designed and hatched in Bulgaria.
In Bulgarian Бургаско пиво, Burgasko pivo. Burgasko is a light beer with 4,4% alcohol. Burgasko started to be produced in 1971 in the city Burgas by the Black Sea. For many years you could only buy this beer by the sea side but today you can find the beer around other places in the central and eastern Bulgaria. In 1995 Burgasko was bought by the beer company Kamenitza and today Astika Brewery in Haskovo owns Burgasko.
For me Burgasko is strongly connected with lazy vacation days on a hot beach, sand between my toes together with tsatsa (European sprat).
There are other Bulgarian beer such as: Astika, Plevensko, Slavena, Ariana, Stolicno, and more. Enjoy your beer tasting in Bulgaria!
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