This was an unassuming bar that you’d hardly find if you didn't know it was there (see the closed street door, shown in the photo), with a wide range of bottled beers available behind the bar, and knowledgeable staff who are able to recommend beers or ales in English (in fact, I suspect this is something of a haunt among English/American residents and visitors to Sofia). It’s a comfortable joint, too, and I’m a bit sorry I was only able to go there once on this visit.
White Stork, Original: a beer made by local Bulgarian brewery White Stork (Бял Щърк), this one is an orange-amber colour and slightly cloudy; the nose is full of ripe fruit, honey and flowers, and it’s peachy and pithy from the get-go on the tongue. There’s some indefinable hoppiness that kicks you in the face a bit, heavy like cough syrup, but not too strong or bitter. A gentle hint of synthetic candy in the swallow doesn’t linger very much. Promising start, but disappointing finish. (**)
Divo Pivo/Диво Пиво: another local beer brewed here in Sofia, the bar opened the bottle from the fridge, swirled it around, and poured every drop, yeasty sediment and all, into a straight glass, which in my opinioned ruined an otherwise very promising pint. It came out cloudy, medium amber, with brown-stained foam, and had a sweet malty raisin smell. Cold and sparkly, with apple-blossom and marmite-on-toast in the first first taste that led to crusty bread and lime zest in the mouth. A subtly charcoaly swallow was almost overwhelmed by swirling yeast. I'm sure this would be really nice if served more carefully, or from a settled cask, but even shaken like this it was still more or less quaffable. (**) (But probably deserves better; I'm guessing a **** if well-handled.)
Kabinet: this clear, light amber, Belgian style ale from Serbia has a fruity, floury odor. There is a sweet, strong cherry first taste, but then it becomes intensely pithy in the mouth, and has a coarse finish that lingers very nicely indeed. Good choice! (****)
Glarus, “English ale”: this one shipped from the coastal city of Varna, is copper-coloured, still and very clear. The nose is slightly sweaty, but fresh, with hints of old vine fruit, and the first taste has soft, dry caramelized cane sugar and orange pith. A musty sense of flightly off fruit hits in the mouth, lingering yeastily and crustily on the swallow. Quite quaffable, but not terribly memorable. To reassure my Bulgarian friends who asked: yes, it's a perfectly respectable English ale. (***)