Sunday 15th September 2013
After checking in to our hotel in central Varna, I and trusty drinking companion Russell booked a taxi to visit another hotel, the Ventura. The attraction, of course was that this establishment has its own brewery.
The hotel is in the Asparuhovo (Аспарухобо) district of the city. This is on the furthest bank of the two waterways that flow from the Black Sea into Lake Varna. It is approached by the massive Asparuhovo Bridge built in 1976 that is just over two kilometres long. I thought the hotel to be in a strange location, with panoramic views of the docks. However I understand the seaside is around a half kilometre further along the road.
Our visit was on a Sunday night and, as a result, the downstairs Gallagher beer-bar was closed. However, this was no great hardship as we had intended to eat here anyway. There is a lobby bar selling the home-brewed beer and this was adjacent to the restaurant.
Before I continue with the details of our visit can I please mention a bit about the history of the building, as I found it very interesting. The hotel states that it was built in 1940 as boiler house to supply steam for heating 19 accommodation blocks in the Soviet style. The housing was required for workers who were constructing the docks on the opposite bank, no doubt connected by ferry.
What I find strange about that version is that the country was a monarchy at that time under the rule of King Boris. Another source states that it was constructed in 1952. This does sound more feasible as the country was by then under communist administration.
A notable visual aspect of the hotel is the huge chimney at the rear that is now used as a ventilation outlet.
The building had been abandoned for a long time before its acquisition by the current owners. It was then completely reconstructed between 2006 and 2008 and is now a boutique hotel with 14 rooms. It has the aforementioned restaurant and beer-bar and, on the top floor under the roof, is the capacious gallery-club, which serves as an art gallery, bar, seminar and events room. It is often used for wedding receptions. The furniture throughout the hotel is Italian made and gives it a comfortable feel.
There is only one beer but it is rather good. The light unfiltered lager beer is made using Bulgarian malt, German hops and the yeast is from France. We thought it the best beer we had in Bulgaria and, although that is probably not too difficult a target to achieve, it is still, nevertheless a quality product.
It is available to take away in glass returnable Siphons (like US growlers) and also in freshly-filled PET bottles via a special adaptor to the beer tap, similar to that found all over Russia. There is also a city centre outlet at the Gallagher Shop at 11 Saborni Boulevard, Varna 9000.
The brewery covers two floors and is visible from both the restaurant and the basement bar. Although this brewery produces just one beer it completely merits its inclusion in BeerVisits as the product is so good. So, if you are visiting Varna, this hotel-restaurant cum brew-pub is very deserving of a visit. You could even spend the night here.
Brewery Gallagher (Hotel Ventura)
16 Mara Taseva Street, Asparuhovo, Varna 9003 /
Ул. Мара Тасеба 16, Аспарухово, Bapha 9003. Tel: +359 52375115
Open: There are three bars. The lobby bar is open most hours, The Gallery bar on the top floor is normally only for events and the brewery bar in the cellar is not open on Sundays and may be closed at other times.
Asparuhovo is served by the route 88 trolleybus and it is thought that there are other bus services from the centre. The 88 runs every 20 minutes or so but finishes around 21.00 on weekdays and 19.00 at weekends. The hotel is around 200 metres from the bus stop.
On our visit we used taxis as it was in the evening and our time was limited. It was a very cheap journey.