Hungary is mostly famous for their wine however you cannot ignore Hungarian beers once you are in the country. If you are a beer lover and visiting Hungary here is a short guide for Hungarian beer culture.
Clink it or Not Clink it?
Hungarian people don’t clink the glasses of beer. This tradition is based on an urban legend from the 1840s when the Austrians celebrated the victory over the Hungarians with beer. The tradition is very old so nobody really knows the origin of this because there’s no evidence that proves any of the stories. Some people claim that the wineries were behind this made-up story to reduce the beer consumption in Hungary. I guess we’ll never know. But don’t be afraid to clink you glass because according to researches 60% of the Hungarian people between the age of 18-29 do clink their glasses!
A lot of people ask me how Hungarians say “Cheers!” when we clink the glasses. We use the word “egészségedre” (eg-es-sheg-ad-reh) and be sure to look the other’s eye when you say it. I know it’s not the easiest word so if it’s too difficult for you to pronounce let’s say “egi” or “egs” (egsh) which is a shorten form of the word above, but be careful because those are informal forms so if you are on a business trip it’s might better to learn the polite version “egészségére” (eg-es-sheg-a-reh). You can also use these words when somebody sneeze instead of bless you. Yes, a bit confusing but Hungarians also understand “cheers!”, “prosit!”, or “salute!”
As I mentioned Hungary isn’t famous for their beers, but you can find good ones if you look for them. You might recognize the name Dreher or Soproni, these two are the largest Hungarian breweries. They brew the beer here, but they are part of the world’s biggest beer industries (Asahi, Heineken). About 10 years ago, it was nearly impossible to find any other beer in the bars or shops than lager, mainly pilsner and they were also cheap, so people used the beer to refresh their selves or to get drunk but didn’t really pay attention on the quality, however beer was always one of the most popular alcoholic beverage. Nowadays Hungarians start to discover the colourful world of beers, so you can find wild selection of handcrafted beers even in groceries now. The large beer factories started to produce IPA, APA and other type of beers. Handcrafted beer bars are popping up from nowhere and if you speak to a local they must have their favourite beer bar or brewery. So something has changed in the few years and beer became a passion for many of us.
If you’re a huge beer fan then Hungary is a good place to visit, we have beer festivals like in every month not just in October, you can go to a workshop where you can be taught how to brew your own beer or in the Beer Spa you can dip yourself into healing thermal water with the beer ingredients in and there’s a real beer tap next to you to drink as much beer as you would like to. Or if you want something more you can do a local beer tasting while you’re in that hot tub. Sounds good, isn’t it?