I finally went to my first craft beer event after these two years of COVID. I chose to go to Ljubljana, to a new event in its first edition: Ljubljana Kraft Beer Week (LKBW). I went there for several reasons: because it seemed an interesting event, because it was relatively close to home – with an excellent public transport connection and because other friends also went there.
The event actually took place from Wednesday to Sunday, when several venues in Ljubljana organized Tap Takeovers with taps dedicated to the breweries participating at this event. On Saturday, however, there was the main event, the real exhibition with all the breweries that tap 150 different beers organized into two sessions. I participated only to the main event on Saturday.
After a careful choice of transportation options to Ljubljana (and back) at 8am I was at the bus station in Nova Gorica for a 2-hour trip that turned out to be quiet and relaxing. Arrived in Ljubljana about three hours in advance, passing by a local that offered Turkish coffee I decided to stop there to take it also with a slice of Baklava. While paying I saw that this place had also its own beer called Das Ist Walter, so I took a bottle to taste at home.
During this snack my friend Max wrote to me, also in Ljubljana with a friend for the LKBW, inviting me to have an aperitif at Sokol, a well-known and traditional restaurant in the center of Ljubljana. After a relaxing walk along a pedestrian zone I reached Max and his friend. We had a chat with a beer produced by the restaurant and then we decided to have lunch separately (we had different wishes). So I went to the restaurant Šestica where I had an extremely rich lunch and then I went to the Festivalna dvorana Ljubljana where the LKBW main event would take place.
Arrived with a slight advance I noticed that there were already people waiting in line. The wait was long, in fact the doors were opened with almost 30 minutes of delay, which did not bother me because I consider it absolutely acceptable since it is the first edition and a brand new experience of the entire organization. As soon as I walked in, they gave me the access bracelet, a Conil glass branded LKBW and two tokens. Up the staircase to the hall instead I got to buy additional tokens at the price of 1.50€ each. During the event, in fact, all beers had to be paid by tokens: I can say that in most cases a token corresponded to half Conil, with some rare exceptions.
The venue was a long hall with terraces and columns on both sides. Tables and taps for the various breweries were set up between these columns. Each brewery offered two different beers for each session (the full menu was available on Untappd), so I just had to choose where to start: I was still not clear how the tokens worked and how much beer they would give me, so I decided to find out at the Ritual Lab table. The very kind guys explained everything to me, poured the first half glass of their Gose and given me two stickers.
Then I tasted two more beers to notice that Max and his friend had finally arrived. After explaining briefly how the event works we started to choose each one his own beers, to taste and comment them together. While we were tasting we were joined by two guys from the association Homebrewers FVG who commented with us several tasted beers. Some breweries started working a little late, while sadly two breweries for technical problems could not serve their beers during the first session: the Estonians Põhjala and the Poles Browar Stu Mostów.
Without even realizing it, tasting half Conil or less (I often preferred to waste part of the token value by asking for less than half glass to give place to other beers) during the first session (which lasted a little longer than planned) I could taste 11 beers:
- Ritual Lab – Gose, (Italy, Gose, 4.5% ABV): The citric taste is soft and well balanced, and the salty sensations very delicate
- AntiKorpo Brewing – It’s All Cool in the Pool (Italy, Session IPA, 4.5% ABV): Delicate floral and fruity aromas, with a well-present and persistent but not intrusive bitterness
- MONYO Brewing Co. – Flying Rabbit (Hungary, American IPA, 6.5% ABV): Persistent creamy head, as aroma an excellent hoppy and fruity blend with notes of ripe fruit
- Dogma Brewery – Dramatičnjak Herbal Ale (Serbia, Pale Ale, 5.3% ABV): Very fresh aroma with spicy, balsamic and ginger notes. Very refreshing even in the mouth.
- Monpiër de Gherdëina – Lab Wild Old Ale (Italy, Sour, 7.5% ABV): Pleasant sourness in the mouth, the fruit is a little weak both for nose and mouth
- Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen – SvhL XIV.ii: Langste Nacht 2019 | Krieken En Kruiden Op Het Koelschip (Belgium, Lambic, 5.5% ABV): A very delicate Lambic with spicy notes
- Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen – 3 Fonteinen Druif Riesling (season 20|21) Blend No. 58 (Belgium, Lambic, 7.2% ABV): Compared to the previous one it has the typical lambic aromas much more marked with notes of leather and vinegar and with a much more strong sourness.
- Brasserie Cantillon – Cuvée Saint-Gilloise (Champions) (Belgium, Lambic, 5% ABV): Very fresh beer with a nice foam, it has well present the classic Lambic aromas. Added hops are not very perceivable.
- MONYO Brewing Co. – Hungarian Terroir: Eger – Kékfrankos Russian Imperial Stout 2019 (Hungary, Imperial Stout, 10.2% ABV): Delicious imperial stout with notes of rum, red fruit, chocolate, coffee and caramel.
- Brewski – Grandmother Gose (Sweden, Gose with chilli, 4.7% ABV): Weak aroma, in the mouth there’s a pleasant fruity sweetness smashed by an arrogant spiciness that burns very well in the throat. You must like spicy to appreciate that beer.
- Tektonik Kraft Pivovarna – OL #62 Blueberry Sour DIPA (Slovenia, Sour IPA, 7.7% ABV): In the nose there are soft blueberry notes, in the mouth it looks like a fruit juice.
- O/O Brewing – Narangi (Sweden, American IPA, 6.8% ABV): Tropical aromas and citrus flavors swept away by a very strong bitterness
Arrived dinner time we went to the food area just outside the event hall. Among the various proposals, what coquered us were the wonderful sandwiches prepared by the staff of Raw Pasta, an Italian restaurant from the center of Ljubljana. They were so good that I was tempted to take another one (someone else did it without thinking about too much).
Back in the hall we started the second session. After a check we noticed that Browar Stu Mostów finally managed to get the taps working, that Põhjala were housed at the tables of other breweries and that the complexity of the beers increased considerably. However, we also noticed that some breweries did not change the beer selection as expected, I don’t know why.
The beers I tasted during the second session were:
- Browar Stu Mostów – ART53 India Pale Ale (Poland, IPA, 6.5% ABV): hazy, pale, fruity and slightly spicy IPA. Very good
- Brauhaus Bevog – Hagger Blend 0221 (Austria, Barleywine, 12.2% ABV): A beer I’ve wanted to taste for a long time. The aroma reveals whiskey with notes of fruit and cocoa. In the mouth presents a chocolate sweetness and a very full body. Great beer.
- Mad Scientist – TCB Taking Care of Business (Hungary, Imperial Stout, 9% ABV): Chocolate, vanilla and strong dried fruit in the aroma, full body, slightly disappointing flavor with notes of chocolate and a little bit intrusive alcohol.
- 22 Brewing – Karatel (Slovenia, Fruit Sour, 9% ABV): Beer with plums aged in wine barrels, it has a very strong sourness and a delicious sweet aroma of fruit and grapes.
- Lervig – Le Grand Mélange By Rackhouse (Norway, Oud Bruin, 8%): Very intense aroma of vinegar and cherries well present also in the flavor
- Põhjala – Sea Fog (Estonia, Gose with fruit, 8% ABV): Gose with fruit and citrus notes in the aroma and a fruity flavor.
- Ritual Lab – Papanero – Cognac XO Barrel Aged (Italy, Imperial Stout, 12.5% ABV): Version aged in cognac barrels, excellent aromas of chocolate and coffee, in the mouth there’s a very sweet taste of chocolate and fruits with an well present alcohol
- Dry & Bitter Brewing Company – Hekseri (Denmark, Cider and IPA Blend, 5.4% ABV): Slightly fruity and acidic aroma, pleasant sweet in the mouth with an intense apple flavor.
- Stigbergets Bryggeri – UNO 2 (Sweden, Imperial IPA, 8% ABV): Hazy beer with grassy, hoppy and citrusy notes, very strong bitterness and weak in flavors;
At this point the event was not over but it was almost 22:00 and I had to head to the bus station to return home. After saying goodbye to Max, his friend and the guys from Homebrewers FVG I took a short walk to the station to return to Nova Gorica with a relaxing and pleasant bus trip.
In conclusion I can say that the main event was really nice and interesting, absolutely to go back. I’m sorry I didn’t experience the various Tap Takeovers, I’ll try to do it next year. I had the opportunity to taste 21 different beers, some really delicious and return home with some coasters and stickers. If I am to criticize something, I expected a bit of merch from the various breweries for sale, but there was no merch! Unfortunately there was some unforeseen, such as the delay at the entrance, someone who could not change beers in the second session and some breweries without tap (the organizers explained the reasons on social) but as I said it was the first edition, no worries! I very appreciated the breweries that have provided support by giving their taps to accommodate the beers of other breweries in difficulty.
Congratulations to the organizers and all the breweries, next year I absolutely want to return to this wonderful event!