Thursday 12th September 2013
Now that the Pri Kmeta in Sofia's city centre has closed, the Riverside is the only brew pub in the capital. It is said to be 4 kilometres out of town but I would guess it is double that. We took a taxi from the hotel where we were staying. As is often the case, I was with fellow imbiber Russell. The taxi ride was quite hair-raising with the vehicle undertaking others and veering from lane to lane without indications. However we were soon there and it was a cheap ride.
The restaurant has the appearance of a North American mountain lodge, which I suppose it is similar to. It is certainly on a mountain, the Vitosha / Витоша, which is in a National Park. There is a river, complete with waterfall, rushing past the building and even a small steam in the restaurant itself, which you have to cross on a little bridge. We climbed the external steps and entered the main room which is fairly large. As we approached the bar at the far end of the room we passed two vessels of the brewery on the left. The rest of the equipment must be located underneath.
Although it has been reported that there is more than one beer brewed; on this occasion there was just the light, HBH Lager (Svetlo). This is said to be in the Münchner style, but I'm not so sure about that. It has a nice body taste with a rather odd aftertaste. This is no criticism, as we soon got used to it. It had too much bitterness to be like a beer from southern Germany.
I am not sure what the HBH stands for, but it is the name of the brewery and is proudly displayed outside the restaurant.
The other beers previously recorded as being drank here were HBH Stout (Tumno) in the dry Irish style and a wheat beer; HBH Weiss (Zhiva). The beers all use imported German yeast, malt and hops.
The food is typical Bulgarian fare that comes recommended and although it is situated in a beautiful spot I still wondered how it attracted patrons. The clue comes from the fact that further up the mountain is the Dragalevtsi Monastery, the oldest parts of which date from 1345. This is a destination for both pilgrims and tourists. Also it is on the way to the lower station of the cable car that takes visitors to the summit of the mountain.
So many customers just drop in on their way down to the city. It is not recommended to perform this function on the way up as you will never get to your destination!
It is not far to walk to the village of Dragalevtsi where buses stop in the square, see below. A trip out of the city to this tranquil spot is highly commended for both beer and food.
Riverside Brewery and Restaurant
Ul. General Kovachev 34, Dragalevtsi, Sofia 1415 /
Ул. Генepaл Ковачев 34, Драгалевци, Софиа 1415.
Tel: +359 876 123466. +359 2 9671001.
Open: Hours not known, but a minimum of 12.00-22.00 is assumed.
It is around ten minute's uphill walk from the Dragalevtsi village square bus stop. It is known that route 64 comes from the city centre to here and it is believed there are other routes. However, because of its isolated location in the forest, it is recommended that you visit using taxis, which are very cheap.