Video interview (above) with Paweł Leszczyński at the Warsaw Beer Festival.
I ended up at a football stadium in Warsaw, Poland in October after first meeting Paweł Leszczyński at GIST in Brussels earlier this year (audio interview here). Leszczyński and Jacek Materski are co-organisers of the Warsaw Beer Festival, held twice a year due to the booming craft scene in the country. It is in its sixth year and the one in October was the 12th edition.
Leszczyński is a homebrewer and an experienced beer judge. He specialises in sensory trainings. Materski is a co-owner of Artezan, one of Poland’s first craft breweries and a beer judge. He recently opened his Artezan Craft Beer Pub in Warsaw.
Off to Warsaw
Leszczyński convinced me to spend five days in Warsaw taking in the city, some craft bars, and the festival, held 24-26 October. With only 50 brewer slots it’s the wish of every Polish brewer to score an invitation to this festival. Leszczyński says the festival chooses a mix of brewers – those who helped launch the Polish craft beer revolution and those that recently started. The festival features around 800 beers on tap, plus 100 speciality beers. Around 20,000 attend the festival each year at Legia Warsaw Municipal Stadium.
The brewers are divided on three floors. The first features brewers who have been invited the first time. The second floor features festival veterans and the top floor is reserved for gypsy brewers. The craft scene in Poland is booming, with dark and fruity IPAs were a strong trend at the festival
The festival aims to present all facets of the Polish craft beer movement – and invites brewers, homebrewers, bloggers, beer aficionados and hopheads. It excludes big beer producers.
Leszka piwny foto-szop
Learning and inventing
Leszczyński says Polish brewers are learning, inventing and creating their own ways of brewing. At the same time, they’re also involving and evolving a lot of traditional techniques that other countries aren’t.
The craft scene reaches it hight at Nowogrodzka street, home to bars such as Jabberwocky, Drugie Dno and Kufle i Kapsle. Other craft bars in Warsaw include Cuda Na Kiju, Hoppiness and Artezan. It’s estimated there are now about 50 specialist bars in town. The next edition of the festival is 26-28 March 2020, so get your travel plans sorted out.