Warsaw Beer Festival – a celebration you’ll get a badge for

A global beer rating service and a major craft beer festival in Central and Eastern Europe have joined forces for the second time. What awaits beer lovers in Warsaw mid-October? A special badge for sampling new beers, and there’s well over 1,200 to choose from.

Untappd and the Warsaw Beer Festival – Polish fans of craft beer need no introduction to these two brands. The former is a rating platform and networking service founded back in 2010. Over the past decade, it has become a specialized social media outlet for beer lovers. And the latter is one of the most important beer events in the entire CEE region. Every year, its semi-annual editions – one in spring and another in autumn – attract a total of almost 30,000 guests, with more foreigners from all over the world visiting with each edition.

A beery cornucopia

While few remember it, in 2014, the Warsaw Beer Festival had its rather humble beginnings in a post-industrial part of Warsaw, which the locals affectionately dubbed Mordor. Following the “pilot” edition, the success of which exceeded the expectations of its incredulous organisers, the festival moved to the VIP Area at the Legia Warszawa football stadium – located in the heart of the city. In March 2022, days before the festival’s lucky 13th edition, the organising committee joined forces with Untappd for the very first time. No other festival, neither in domestic, nor in regional terms, had secured such a partnership – and the Varsovians still remain the only ones.

Festival-goers welcomed this surprising news, announced grandly in the festival’s social media, as a triumph. The festival in Warsaw joined the big league. As a result, on the eve of the event, each festival stand was equipped with special QR codes, which scanned redirected Untapp users to the profile of the Warsaw Beer Festival. All beers, both on tap and bottled or canned, available at the football stadium were there… literally at one’s fingertips.

And there is more to choose from than anyone could handle. The 2022 autumn edition will boast a total of approx. 1,200 beers from 62 breweries. The vast majority are Polish, but those looking for such superstar brands as Põhjala, Schlenkerla or Lindemans will not be disappointed either. Polish veterans of the craft “beer-ness”, like AleBrowar, Pinta, Palatum or Trzech Kumpli, will be there too offering both new beers and their very own classics. Nevertheless, the festival aims to promote breweries large and small, making sure beer drinkers get the chance to sample the offer bantam producers too, oftentimes no less brave in their experiments: Wagabunda, Magic Road, Nook, Cztery Ściany to name but a few.

What do you mean “show me your badge”?

There is no denying that people love collecting stuff. Scouts and hikers collect badges and stamps for their journals. Most in the realm of beer know collectors of labels or bottle caps. Amateur sportsmen collect medals, while mountaineers collect peaks and summits. But it’s also possible to collect beers and one of the Polish bloggers has rated – on Untappd – more than 18,000 different beers! Because Untappd for beer geeks is what a stamp booklet is for philately fanatics. We search for beers, check them in, rate on a 5-point scale, mark the place of consumption and purchase, and the method of serving, while checking out what our friends are having (and where and with whom), raising a virtual one-click toast.

But the partnership between the Warsaw Beer Festival and Unappd is not limited solely to the QR code. App users who will check in their beers at the festival or tag them as “purchased at WBF” will be awarded a virtual badge. How does one get it? Simple: log five different beers and you get to level 1 – mind you, there are exactly 100 levels. And this is the second uniquely Polish badge on Untappd, as already in 2014, the platform had introduced a badge dedicated to the consumption of Polish beers “Pole Position”. Like in Formula 1.

Untappd supports the art of craft brewing

Behold a group of intensely focused people sitting or standing at the table, a dozen or so tiny cups or glasses (more empty rather than full), debating and discussing their beer, judging like in a professional competition. Situations like these happen all the time at the Warsaw festival. Unlike excessive imbibing. Although one of the Polish master brewers coined the term “quaffiness” for beer one could enjoy in copious amounts, excess at the Warsaw Beer Festival is a statistical error. There’s masterclasses, meetings with brewers, sensory evaluation trainings and specialist panels focusing on a given beer style – so why would anyone want to get wasted?

The ratings awarded by a dynamically growing number of Poles using Untappd are far from irrelevant. For breweries, this is invaluable feedback from consumers, a chance to polish their craftsmanship in an extremely competitive environment. The ratings, of course, also translate into subsequent sales of beers to specialty stores, bars and restaurants. And it doesn’t stop there, as they confirm (or contradict) fads and trends, offering a glimpse into the demand for specific styles and varieties.

There are always rebels though. Brewers who care little about what is in and what is passé, who bring an altbier, a smoked bock or a blueberry gose with peanut butter. And that’s great! After all, even Romans in Antiquity knew that “in matters of taste, there can be no dispute”. One has, however, to take one thing into consideration: it’s a dangerous game to play, and many might end up baffled or perplexed. And the highest rated beers? These will be included in a special festival box that the Warsaw Beer Festival will prepare with Funky Fluid, a brewery famous for their audacious and shameless experiments.

So grab your phones, get the Untappd app, and start rating. The upcoming edition is right around the corner!