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Beer / Wine / Spirits in Romania

Domestic varieties of alcohol are a part of virtually every countries fabric, culture and economy.  Romania has a very old tradition of wine making, I've heard the 2nd oldest in the world behind Greece.  Many Romanians also make their own wine and spirits, and equipment for this is readily found in DIY building stores and specialty shops.

Some domestic products and labels include

Beer
Ursus, Timisoareana, Silva, Ciuc, Neneau Iancu, Stejar, Albacher

Wines
Murfatlar, Cotnari, Jidvei, Beciu Domnesc

Spirits
Rachiu, Palinca, Tuica, Horinca

Ciders
Dacic

What are some of the best drinks in Romania you would recommend to a visitor or newcomer?  Are there any notable microbreweries or small producers in your region that are worth mentioning.

Personally, I think Ursus is the best domestic beer, especially for the price compared to imports.

:cheers:

Romaniac
Expat-Blog Experts Team

romaniac :

Domestic varieties of alcohol are a part of virtually every countries fabric, culture and economy.  Romania has a very old tradition of wine making, I've heard the 2nd oldest in the world behind Greece.  Many Romanians also make their own wine and spirits, and equipment for this is readily found in DIY building stores and specialty shops.

Some domestic products and labels include

Beer
Ursus, Timisoareana, Silva, Ciuc, Neneau Iancu, Stejar, Albacher

Wines
Murfatlar, Cotnari, Jidvei, Beciu Domnesc

Spirits
Rachiu, Palinca, Tuica, Horinca

What are some of the best drinks in Romania you would recommend to a visitor or newcomer?  Are there any notable microbreweries or small producers in your region that are worth mentioning.

Personally, I think Ursus is the best domestic beer, especially for the price compared to imports.

:cheers:

Romaniac
Expat-Blog Experts Team

Bergenbier?

Although a lot of the brand names are domestic, many of the beers are made under licence from foreign brewers. Ursus, Timisoareanca and Ciuc, for example, and made under licence from the UK's SABMiller group. Lots of these are fast brewed using various additive and enzymes, even though these aren't listed on the can. There are also quite a few which are made cheaper by adding maize as a fermentable to partially replace the barley. Look out for 'malai' or 'porumb' on the can. Of the commercial ones, I also like Ursus (which is mamaliga-free :) ) Romania has no legislation in place as yet to regulate the use of additive, stabilizers and enzymes in beer manufacture. The main reason for their use is to 'repair' damaged batches of beer and cut down on raw materials, thus keeping the price of the beer down.

Micro-breweries are few on the ground in Romania compared to other countries, but look out for Clinica de Bere, Zaganu, Ground Zero, Csiki Sor and Sikaru.

Maykal :

Although a lot of the brand names are domestic, many of the beers are made under licence from foreign brewers. Ursus, Timisoareanca and Ciuc, for example, and made under licence from the UK's SABMiller group. Lots of these are fast brewed using various additive and enzymes, even though these aren't listed on the can. There are also quite a few which are made cheaper by adding maize as a fermentable to partially replace the barley. Look out for 'malai' or 'porumb' on the can. Of the commercial ones, I also like Ursus (which is mamaliga-free :) ) Romania has no legislation in place as yet to regulate the use of additive, stabilizers and enzymes in beer manufacture. The main reason for their use is to 'repair' damaged batches of beer and cut down on raw materials, thus keeping the price of the beer down.

Micro-breweries are few on the ground in Romania compared to other countries, but look out for Clinica de Bere, Zaganu, Ground Zero, Csiki Sor and Sikaru.

Very good and true points, definitely no mainstream "reinheitsgebot" here :)  I don't care much for corn beers.  Also, some of the "local" beers use rice, again for lowering costs.

Romaniac

Yeah, can't stand the corn beers either. Taste really sweet and syrupy. To be honest, not a huge lager fan. Kaufland has a few imported ales (London Pride, Hobgoblin, Spitfire) but I think the price (around 8 ron for a 500ml bottle) puts most people off.

Beer at the low-medium price is a matter of taste, some like Bergenbier which i consider very bad. What i like these days is Stejar, 7% alcohol.

For wines i don't recommend the brands you can find in stores, you should go to Auchan/Metro/Kaufland where the offer is more diverse and get a proper wine. I recommend Recaș, Casa Isărescu, Halewood, Rotenberg. And skip what's below 20 lei. That is, if you know wines, else you can drink anything :D

I'd second Halewood (Prahova Valley), they make some very decent wines for the price.

You said 'spirits' and I thought of strigoi :)

Ursus Black is one of my favorite beers in Romania. I am not a big beer drinker, but I found that I really enjoyed the flavor over the (what's the word to describe it? yellower? lighter?) beers.

You should also try Silva Dark. Ursus has kind of a generic taste, if not for the color I wouldn't even call it Dark Beer.

I'll recommend two wines if i'm here anyway:
white- Casa Isărescu Crâmpoșie de Drăgășani (can be found in big stores likes Auchan)
red- Recaș SELENE Fetească Neagră (exceptional wine, exclusively sold in Recaș wineries)

oh... and another great wine from Moldova this time, but bit more expensive- Negru de Purcari, which is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Saperavi and Rara Neagra (in Romania called Băbească Neagră, a rare grape variety).

Bogdan_P :

You should also try Silva Dark. Ursus has kind of a generic taste, if not for the color I wouldn't even call it Dark Beer.

I'll recommend two wines if i'm here anyway:
white- Casa Isărescu Crâmpoșie de Drăgășani (can be found in big stores likes Auchan)
red- Recaș SELENE Fetească Neagră (exceptional wine, exclusively sold in Recaș wineries)

oh... and another great wine from Moldova this time, but bit more expensive- Negru de Purcari, which is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Saperavi and Rara Neagra (in Romania called Băbească Neagră, a rare grape variety).

While I can't agree with your Silva recommendations (I liked it somewhat more before they changed it to a strong beer, a few years back), it's your recommendation/opinion and you're entitled to it ;)

Thanks also for the wine "shout-outs" :)

A question for you, as a Romanian native ;)  Why aren't ciders and mead really a part of the market here? Ok, in the last few months, Strongbow has began distributing heavily in Romania, and a few other import ciders are popping up in stores :D  But domestically, it seems unheard of and it's something that foreigners and Romanians that have been abroad, have brought back. Over here in this region at least (Suceava, Iasi, etc) there's lots of apple farms and honey bee farms, and when I've met some of them at fairs and asked them about cider or mead, they never even heard of it or considered it as a product :)

I happen to brew cider (a little) and mead (more so) as a hobby, and so far many "natives" I've given it to, have really liked it.  Maybe I'm on to something here  :proud I've tried brewing beer and failed miserably at that, so I leave that for the pro's :D

Romaniac
Expat-Blog Experts Team

I've often asked myself the same question about cider. So many apples, it'd seem like a natural compliment and a good earner too for all those smallholders with apple orchards. And as most smallholders already have a scratter and a press for wine/spirit production, it wouldn't require much investment. Perhaps they prefer to distil it (with plums) into tuica/palinca/rachiu or just sell on the apples to markets?

Cider is one of the things I've missed in Romania. The Strongbow ones, especially the flavoured ones, don't do it for me. Too sweet and gimicky. However, Mega Image has recently started to stock a pretty decent and appley-tasting Normandy cider, which I've been enjoying. It's a little overpriced at 13 ron for 70ml, and they sell it in champagne-style bottles, probably to justify the price, but it tastes ok.

There is some precedent for mead in Romania. I believe the Dacians used to brew it. I've also heard about beekeepers in the past making something call hidromel, a lightly-alcoholic drink from the leftover honeycombs. I tried a batch of mead a few years ago but it seems to be something that requires quite a lot of experience. How has yours turned out?

Now I'm turning my hand to rachiu as I have quite a few plum trees in the garden. With the aid of a neighbour, they should be fermenting away nicely. The village has its own communal still, so I'll get it distilled by the local pro. Not sure what the yield will be, but I have 300 litres of barrels full of plums, so I'm guessing around 20 litres of final product.

When you tried brewing beer, were you using kits or all-grain? I used to brew my own from kits (couldn't be bothered with all-grain, too much outlay on kit for something I didn't know if I would do regularly enough) and the results were pretty decent. Made a nice change from lager anyway. There's a company called 'fabrica de bere', based in Bucharest, who supply all the equipment and kits at reasonable prices.

@Maykal

Ok...we're straying off-topic here a bit...tsk tsk :)
Agreed, I don't like Strongbow, it has a strange aftertaste to it IMO.  I usually only make about 20 liters of apple/pear/mixed ciders a year.  I've been making mead and melomel (fruit and honey) 4-5 years now and it usually comes out great and about 12-14 ABV is what I shoot for, I get more and more adventurous each year with adjuncts and variations :)  Out of the beer, cider and mead brewing....I've found mead the easiest and most satisfying to make.

As for the beer, I went all all-grain, but just probably really botched the recipes :) Yes I know about fabrica de bere, though I prefer to go directly to Brouwland in Belgium.  I think fabrica de bere gets their stock from them, and Brouwland has huge selections and great service.

Romaniac

I can tell you what we do with apples and pears, we make a very tasty pălincă/țuică/rachiu. These are at high demand so no one saw the need to brew something else, I guess. No one in the country side would drink cider because it's just a slightly alcoholic juice :)

When you compare palinca at 50% alcohol with a cider at 5% you will see the downside (speaking as a romanian).

For lower alcoholic beverages we make lichior, which is usually only drank by women and has around 10% strength.

We don't even brew beer, though we have a kind of tradition in this area, but it's been mostly forgotten probably because beer's so cheap on the market.

And wine, house made wine has a different taste and you should try it if you haven't yet, the downside is it starts fermenting soon after you open the bottle, because it doesn't have the same preservatives as bottled wine. You can find really good house made wine but also really bad house made wine, you need to buy from trusty sources because some peasants try to make a profit by diluting it with water, or adding sugar, and so forth. Buy from friends of friends.

I believe house made wine comes closest to cider, some red wine batches are even slightly sparkling and sweet, you can drink them like juice until the ~12% alcohol kicks in and throws you under the table :)
Actually only city folks buy bottled wine.

I just updated my list above, as there is a Cider now on the market which I've tried just today Dacic.  I found it in Selgros, but it looks like Carrefour carries it also.  The apple cider I just tried is better than Strongbow, decent apple taste, not too sweet, crisp and not very syrup-like.  It will do when I don't have any of my own home-brewed all natural cider on hand :)

So +1 for this Romanian attempt at cider.   Though with it being domestic, I was disappointed that it was about the same price as imported Strongbow (UK) or Old Mout (NZ).

Romaniac

Mega also carry their own-branded Normandy cider. It's a little pricey (about 14 RON for a 70cl champagne-style bottle) but tastes ok. Better than those awful (imo) flavoured Strongbow ones also on sale.

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