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Every now and then an opportunity comes along that let’s us experience exciting new things. This time the opportunity presented was a trip to Montenegro for work. The exciting new thing, a chance to try Montenegrin beer.
The place in question that I would be staying was the stunning hillside village of Orahovats located in the bay of Kotor. The extraordinary scenery seen from every angle would serve to be a stunning backdrop for the supping of local beer.
The first beer I tried on my travels was a Niksicko gold, a very light and crisp pilsner that quenched the thirst caused by the sweltering heat. Niksicko in fact is the most popular beer choice in Montenegro and was stocked in particularly every bar/restaurant that I visited. It’s little wonder why so much of it is drunk in this country, when my colleague ordered a water and paid 20 cents more, a measly 2 euros. Its prices like these that made the beer taste that little more sweeter. The location for said beer was a beautiful waterfront hotel with the view of 360 degree mountains, a slice of paradise. Off to a good start.
The working days were long, trudging up mountains to get beautiful shots over-looking the bay. It seemed even go down hills was a struggle, the heat wasn’t helping so we ducked in to a small shop tucked away in between two houses for refreshment. To my overwhelming joy they had a superb range of canned beers in the fridge, all at a measly 80 cents each! That’s like 65p! Now a decision had to be made, I knew the working day wasn’t complete, could I carry five cans of beer around with me, the answer was yes of course. I would come to regret this later but for the moment, pure bliss.
The first of these cans I would try that evening once back in the apartment. After it had 30 minutes in the freezer of course. It was a Jelen Pivo, and to be strictly honest it was a bit gross, it lacked any sort of flavour was gassy and just plainly didn’t smell or look nice, oh dear is this why they were 80 cents?
The next evening I would have my second beer in a restaurant, this time in the beautiful Perast, a quaint water side town. The beer in question was a Točeno, received in a huge mug, the Schwarzenegger of mugs if you will. With condensation dripping down the dimples of the glass I sat back and enjoyed this crisp pilsner, taking in the flavours as the sun disappeared behind the mountains.
The next evening found us in a local restaurant, where I would try another Niksicko gold. Following that evening we decided to have a home cooked meal from our apartment, the perfect opportunity to try a couple more of my beers purchased from the little shop. Firstly I had a beer that I was very excited about, it’s not one for the purists with its minimal 2% alcohol but for me its a bit trying everything and this happened to be a grapefruit beer. It was really fruity almost too sweet, with hints of tango, cider and fruit juice. It did however have a lager sharpness to it as it slid down the throat. I was definitely a fan but it won’t be for everyone. The second beer I tried was a real treat, a 6.2% dark beer called Niksicko Tamno. It was strong but thin, sweet but demanding. It’s strength was appreciated and I happily supped it until my eyes became heavy and ended a long day.
We decided to venture out the next day, our work was done so it was time to relax and soak up the Montenegro sun, but it seems we hadn’t read the script as we were welcomed by rain and clouds masking the views of the bay. Heading to the coast seemed to be best plan of action and luckily the sun was there to great us. We filled the day with a ride on a rib (speed boat), and a quick beer looking out to the sea. This time a Niksicko pivo, completing the Niksicko range, this one being like the gold but that little bit more stronger. We ended the evening in a wonderful little restaurant in old town Budva. With our own musician we sat and had one of the best meals of the trip. Mine a beautiful steak with mushroom sauce. But the best surprise of the restaurant was that they brewed their own beer! The restaurant was called Kanoba Stari Grad but I couldn’t get the name of the beer out of the waiter, I believe translation issues were to be blamed. But my word what a beautiful beer, much like a wheat beer it was cloudy with a slight banana taste but it had depth, crispness and longevity. It won’t come as a surprise when I tell you that I had more than one that evening.
My time was now drawing to a close, it had been a great experience taking in the culture of this mostly undiscovered country. When imagining the beer I wasn’t sure what to expect, one thing I thought for sure was there wouldn’t be much variety, in some ways there weren’t, much of the beer was largely pilsner but, pilsner on the whole that was done well. It had certain similarities to Italian beer in that sense. This could largely be due to Italian to Montenegro trading routes, it’s definitely got an Italian feel to the place within its architecture and culture. But I was certainly impressed. A country for good mass production beer that is for sure.
Thanks for reading.