Craft beer in Tbilisi, Georgia

Georgia is a new tourist destination in the heart of the Caucasus. More people are discovering the beautiful landscapes and interesting culture that Georgia has. The capital Tbilisi has much to offer and is easy to explore with it´s subway and buses. The history is rich and many old forts and walls are well preserved.

Georgia is easy to reach from Armenia and is also neighbour to Russia, Turkey and Azerbajdzjan. The population is just a few millions and it’s a small mountanious country filled with wine, beer and castles. Georgia is most know for the locally produced wines, specially the orange colored wine. But from now on lets hope they also will be known for their excellent craft beer culture. I arrived in Tbilisi after 5-6 hours bud ride from Yerevan. The weather in October is really nice and no need for more than a t-shirt.

Booming craft beer scene

The number of breweries are increasing and the variation of beers are really impressive. You can find any beer style in Tbilisi. But it is still relative new so many small issues remain. Since all breweries are small, many beers are hard to find. Many places are relative new so the staff might not be ready for all the questions you have.

One reason why all the breweries must have their own house bar is because there often is problems with payments and planning. Very few shops have a good supply of beers, look for the house bars to make sure you get a taste of each brewery. Many taps are empty so always ask what beers are available. On mondays you are guaranteed that most taps are empty. The spectrum is wide, from small empty bars with bad supply up to excellent bars with amazing staff and many beers on tap and bottle.

Practical information

Many visitors are visa free so it’s just to get an entry stamp in the passport. Border crossing with bus from Armenia is easy and border police are speaking English. If you enter by air it’s really fast and smooth. You just have to provide the adress of your hotel. Corruption and criminality is low but 20 years ago it was completely different. The corruption was high but the government did a good clean up. Since the country is candidate for both NATO and the European Union they are working hard to develop. The tourism is booming so there are many hotels to choose from but you need to book a few weeks before to avoid high prices. If you arrive from Armenia it feels like there are 3-4 times more tourists in Georgia. Many restaurants and hotels does not take card so make sure you have some cash, you can easily use any ATM to take out money. One thing you notice is all the stray dogs that roam around the streets but most of them are vaccinated. Tbilisi is surrounded with hills easy to walk up to, bring proper shoes for a walk with a view.

The best craft beer bars in Tbilisi

One of the most interesting breweries is Megrobrebi Craft Beer that has Tsota Tsota as their house bar. Megobrebi have brewed around 70 different beers and are part of the new wave. They mix styles and ingredients. Much of the beer is exported and the beers popular so it’s hard to find them. Thats why many visit their house bar Tsota Tsota, to be sure to get the beer you are looking for. The milk stout Tiflis Night is one of the most popular ones. Tsota is very popular and it’s often rush to the bar during the weekends.

There are around a dozen good craft breweries in Georgia and most of them are in and around Tbilisi. After Megrobrebi, a visit to Naturale breweries house bar Naturale. The bar is on the street level in the house above and is a popular spot for nice people to meet and drink craft beer. Naturale has produced around 60 different beers, their Tomato gose and IPA is the most popular. Their cans and bottles are designed with creativity and humour.

Passion behind the bar. Naturale bar is small but personal and filled with interesting beer lovers. Perfect place to sit by the bar and sample beers. The prices range from 6 to 8 lari which is below 3 euro.

Sma bar is another cosy bar to visit but is one of the smaller ones so people tend to be outside during the summer time. It’s the house bar for Seahorse brewery that has 16 different beers so far, at the bar they often have six beers available on tap.

Another brewery is 9 MTA thats making good craft beer and they have a bar with imported beers. During my visit in Tbilisi I made a trip to the end of the metro line to meet the guys behind Underground Microbrewery. They have a background in geology and thats also why all the beers has names related to the field. Triassic IPA, Magnetite and Permafrost are a few examples of their most popular beers. The beers are well made and the ambition is high so let’s hope to see more of their beers the coming year. The brewery is situated in one of the old Soviet style suburbs but beers sold in town at various bars.

They have a small brew house, only 300 liter which is in constant use. The demand for craft beer is high but so also the prices to scale up to 500 or 1000 liter brewhouse with 2000 liter fermenters. The investment is huge for a 1000 liter brewhouse so many tend to stay at smaller levels and prefer to brew more until they reach a level where it is impossible to keep up with the demand.

So many beers to try, so many breweries to visit. You need at least four days to have the time to sample the most interesting beer at a normal pace. Tblisi is well worth a visit and it’s not too touristy yet.


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