Guide to the Craft Beer Scene in Sofia

28.05.2024

Summer is looming, beer festivals have been planned and tourists are expected to make a comeback in Sofia so it is time to write where to enjoy a cold craft beer in the capital. The past decade has seen a boom in the Sofia craft beer scene and the same can be said of the local breweries that expanded from the initial three craft breweries in 2013 to over 20 today across the country. Some have been courageous enough to organise festivals such as the PCIB, BBB and Ulitsa Hmel.

This, in a way, has put Sofia on a par with Budapest or maybe even Barcelona as a craft beer tourist destination even more so that prices are still on the low side especially for locally produced beers. The concentration of craft beer places around NDK is now so high that you can string 7 stores or bars in one pub crawl or call it a craft beer quarter!

There is so much diversity in Sofia craft beer-wise that we tried to make this craft beer compilation as comprehensive & evolutionary as possible and will be updating the list in time with openings & closures - if we have missed out anyone, get in touch -  we will add your location! We haven’t devised a map as we expect readers to be able to search on their own map applications - addresses have been added for further ease - copy paste is your friend!

Our guide is divided in three with locations that close before 10pm, are open after and a selection of restaurants that pride themselves for their (craft) beer:

Craft beer before 10pm
Bulgaria’s retail & horeca laws are archaic and allowed for hybrid pub/shop locations to be opened with easier licensing rules, with a secondary benefit that these places were not shut down during Covid as opposed to late night drinking spaces. The only downside is that without late licensing they close at 10pm. As they operate as ‘stores’ prices are more accessible and the location usually carries up to 8 taps for on premise consumption (off-premise rules force them to serve their tapped beer in plastic cups, growlers or crowlers).

Pivoteka - Lyuben Karavelov 53

Full bias disclosure: this is our store!
Situated between Levski Boulevard & Evlogi Georgiev Boulevard on the corner of Karavelov & Han Krum near the Polish, Hungarian and British embassies, the shop stocks local & European craft beers (mostly regional), a decent list of wild ales and has the luxury of a street-side terrace. 8 Taps & closes at 22:00.

100beers - Yuri Venelin 1

One of the OG craft beer (on-line at first) specialty retailers on the corner of the now trendier & semi-pedestrianised Shishman Street. Packed to the brim with local, European & North American craft beers. 100beers is known for importing Scandinavian & Baltic brands. It carries four taps, a good selection of sours, their weekday closure is at 22:00 and closes at 20:00 on Saturdays and Sundays

Nosferatu Craft Beer Shop - Patriarch Evtimiy 28

One for the metalheads, the owner is a lead singer in a metal band, small & cozy (eg the ceiling is low, tall people be warned) and is located on one of the downtown boulevards. It carries most of the local & international beers and has an exclusive line of Polish & Baltic brands. 4 Taps & closes at 22:00.

Dissident - 6-ti September 36

Not far from Nosferatu, you find Dissident on a side street off Patriarch Evtimiy and is run by the enthusiastic Kiryl who organises his shelves by beer style and has 6 taps. Like its beer selection, the store has an eclectic crowd & the music is tuned accordingly. Great place to sit on the window sill and see the world pass by. Closes at 22:00

Crafter - Knyaz Boris I 65

Situated near the Vitosha Boulevard, Crafter is one of the few craft beer bars that also caters to people who appreciate wine. The owners also run a late night bar by the same name (more below), it has a selection of local and imported beer from Poland and France worth the detour. 4 taps - closes at 22:00.

S.Beerka - Krakra 4

Stuck between the hip Doctor’s Gardens & the Zaimov Park, the store formerly known as Biroterapia has a large selection of international and local beers and has 6 taps - closes at 21.30.

Cosmic Craft Beer - Graf Ignatiev 34

You can not get more downtown than Cosmic, you may find it bang in the middle of the pedestrianised tramway line on ‘Grafa’ near the Church of the Seven Saints. Known for carrying Crew Republic from Germany & serves from 6 taps, closes at 22:00

Pivomania - Pirinski Prohod 47

One off the beaten track & not in the center of Sofia, Pivomania is based in the Borovo neighbourhood. Pivomania has a large selection of Czech, German and local or imported (craft) beers. 4 taps & closes at 22:00.

Chikiriki - Tsar Asen 51

A newcomer to the scene, the enthusiastic owner Krasi also focuses on coffee & wine in his small but perfectly formed space. 2 taps, 22:00 closing time.

Tap Local - Georgia Benkovski 6

Our first outlier in this section is Tap Local, not a shop but a tap driven bar and closes at 22.00. It has partnered up with the talented Kazan Artisan brewery and this is their official outlet. You can get proper craft beer from 6 taps and some good grub too! Famous for their Shkembe Chorba / Tripe Soup served Saturdays. Find their perfectly sized location between the Russian Church and the Sofia Philharmonic.

All Mountain Bike - Rakovski 193

Our second outlier is AMB which has the creative concept of combining a bicycle shop and a bar with 4 taps and local and regional craft beer! So if you are thirsty and need a bike or some repairs - here is your space! 22.00 closing time.

Craft Beer past 10pm
The following craft beer establishments have a late license meaning you can enjoy craft beer later into the night - this also means you will be paying higher prices for the privilege - entirely understandable with more shifts per day and the crew missing out on public transport, etc.

Kanaal - Madrid 4

You can not be a craft beer enthusiast, arrive in Sofia and not make a pilgrimage to Kanaal! The brain child of Toni & Liubo, it has evolved since 2011 from a love for Dutch & Belgian beers to become THE craft beer Sofia destination. It has also expanded to the neighbouring location, boasts a winter and summer garden, not forgetting excellent music. You can even stave your hunger with Asian street food from Foku, their restaurant partner. Look out for the Omnipollo cans or on one of their 38 taps (!). Kanaal opens early for (excellent) coffee and cake and closes at 1am.

Vitamin B - Vrabcha 24

B for Beer, lots of B12 - get it? Part of the 100beers constellation (see above) based in a townhouse, it boasts 6 taps (their financial partner is Sofia Electric Brewing so expect them on tap) and a vast array of craft beers in bottles & cans with a relaxing summer garden terrace. Podlez restaurant is their food partner upstairs so you can overdose on tacos and poppers to your heart's content! Closes at 1am.

Crafter Bar - Hristo Belchev 6

As mentioned above the Crafter Shop has an after 22:00 bar off Alabin Street and carries 10 taps with local and international craft beer with some interesting brands such as Piggy, Vault City & Stu Mostow. They are open till 2am during weekends and midnight to 1am during the week.

High Five Taproom - Hristo Belchev 29b

Just a block away from Vitosha Boulevard you can find High Five which started operating over 2 years ago in the snug location of the now defunct BEERA. Boasting 12 taps and 2 double-breasted fridges packed with craft goodies you will find the always welcoming Denis & Misha (even more if you are into US sports!). Monday to Thursdays closing time is midnight, 1am during the weekend and 23:00 on Sundays.

Birabar - Paris 8

Founded by Plamen 9 years ago, based off the Dondukov boulevard on the edge of the Jewish quarter, Birabar prides itself for having a selection of cask ales on their 13 taps and a good list of ciders. If you are lucky you may also watch rugby in their establishment. Closes everyday at 22:30.

The Egg Bar - Lom 1

Hidden behind the Serdika Metro Station and Stamboliyski Boulevard you will find the Egg bar in an impasse. It has 6 taps, plenty more beers in the fridge and outside seating. Expect an intellectual conversation or interesting mix of music. Closes at 23.00 everyday.

Tony’s - Shipka 22

Part of the Halbite group (more on that below), Tony’s is located on the Doctor’s Garden with pavement seating, 3 taps and a fridge full of local craft beer, German and Czech beers - sports are broadcast on the TV walls. Closes at midnight.

On The Rocks - 6-ti Septemvri 8

Located in the middle of Sofia’s late night and club strip, On The Rocks took over from where Trick began with a huge tap wall (26?) with local and foreign craft beers, cocktails and fast food. OTR also has live music events. Closed on Sundays - open till midnight during the week and 2am on Fri- and Saturdays.

Honourable late night mentions: Although some have tried to introduce the craft beer vibe into Sofia’s nightlife (looking at you Koncept Space with 20 taps, we miss you RIP!), smaller places have been more successful & survived for way longer.

Gaba Bar - 6ti September 44

Amongst the longest surviving dive bars in Sofia, Gaba has been embracing (mostly local) craft beer in the past years and stocks a full fridge & 5 taps. Worth the after hours experience just on the music alone! Gaba closes at 1am during the week & 3am on Fri- and Saturdays. NB: the venue usually shuts down over summer from June to September so check their social media accounts during these months.

Atelieto -Tsar Samuil 50

Situated in a small under passage off Tsar Samuil, Atelieto is worth the search! As the name implies, it is famous for its artsy, underground vibe & organising interesting music events. Open till 2am everyday, it has 2 taps of craft beer and bottles/cans.

Spritz - Tsar Shishman 3a

This is our outlier in the past 10pm Sofia craft beer bar scene: If you want a Prosecco or a cocktail head to recently opened Spritz on the hip side of Shishman and on the corner with Hadji Dimitar, it boasts 4 taps of craft beer too with bottles in their fridges! 23.00 closing time.

Grub & Craft Beer:

By now you must be fed up with the bar snacks, you want to stick to craft beer over dinner, cure your hangover or just hungry? Have no fear, Sofia has plenty of good places! The gastropub concept has taken some time to come to Bulgaria and most of the beer-focused restaurants used the German style Bierstube or Mehana & beer concepts. As mentioned before some of the craft beer bars have also started to partner with restaurants to open food service in situ so to end our guide we will mention some of the food places that focus on craft beer (e.g. no macro beer) with a smattering of traditional beer courts, … Worth knowing is that most restaurants in Sofia close their kitchen at 10pm and mostly require a reservation.

Aubergine - Carnegie 11

Situated in a quiet street off Rakovska, Aubergine’ slogan is ‘craft beer, craft food’ and definitely stuck to the line since: up to 6 taps depending on the season and a very strong local craft beer menu which it is promising to expand to wild ales & regional imported craft beer. You can enjoy their excellent Bulgarian fusion menu in their stand alone house or terrace depending on the weather. Check their social media for their weekend breakfast service this summer.

Cafe 1920 - Maria Luiza 60

Deep on the outskirts of the Jewish Quarter near the Women’s Market and a short walk from the Orlov Most metro station, Cafe 1920 encapsulate the gastropub ethos - a comfort food menu, great coffees and craft beer on the drinks list. What else can we say?

Made in Blue - Yuri Venelin 6

Just a hop and a skip from 100beers you will find a house painted, you guessed it, aquamarine blue! MiB boasts 3 levels of seating inside and a large terrace in their yard and serve a modern Bulgarian fare! Their craft beer list could be longer & stronger but the restaurant deserves a mention.

Crazy Diamond - Oborishte 9A

Near the Doctor’s Garden, hidden down a small alley past one of the larger buildings on Oborishte, you will find Crazy Diamond’s court yard and their standalone house all painted in yellow - they have an innovative fare with a beer menu loaded with Czech, German and local craft beer.

FlipFlop - Oborishte 61

Flipflop is also based on the chic & trendy Oborishte and serves street food. 4 taps circulating German, Czech and local craft beer + bottles, also operates as a bar till 30 past midnight.

Adlershorst - Orlovo Gnezdo 6

Do not be put off by the sarcastic name, Adlershorst has an amazing Bavarian menu, a tap list loaded with Weihenstephan and bottled beer from Mahrs Bräu on the drinks menu. Their German style sausages and Leberkäse are to die for.

Die Alte Lampe - Kotel 2

Just off Sofia’s South Park, Die Alte Lampe aka Fenerite is one of Sofia’s OG German themed BierStube’s and is the place for Wiener Schnitzel and sausages, it has 4 taps of German beers on tap, lots of beer in bottle, an inside court and plenty of TV’s for sports!

Halbite - Neofit Rilski 72 & Tri Ushi 13

Halbite translates into ‘Beer Mugs’ in Bulgarian and is a chain that used to have 3 now 2 beer halls and was founded in 2000. The both sites have plenty of court yard & inside seating, a strong traditional beer list and food.

Ale House - Hristo Belchev 42 & Krum Popov 4

In 2007, Ale House was the first to develop the concept of ‘beer by the meter’ in their original location on Hristo Belchev, you get a mug and your consumption is metered from a tap on the wall next to your table.
Their newest address on Krum Popov is a purpose built beer hall serving food and a larger amount of local craft beer.


We hope you enjoyed this guide. If so, share it with your craft beer loving friends. We will attempt in our next episode to compile a guide to craft beer outside Sofia. So follow us to stay up to date! 

Nazdrave!
from PIVOTEKA

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