Some of the best beer in the world comes from Europe. And there’s nothing quite like getting a good freshly brewed beer right from the source. Here are the best places in the continent to wet your whistle.
England is perhaps one of the best beer countries in Europe, not only because of the beer they produce, but because of the amazing pub culture. It’s a must-visit for anyone that enjoys a good brew. English beer varieties include a lot of bitter beers, ales, stouts and porters. If you’re a fan of IPAs (the bitterest nastiest beer in the universe), you can enjoy one in London where the style was developed. And though the stout is considered an Irish style of beer, its grandfather, the porter, was also developed in London. But it doesn’t matter what you order when you’re sitting in any one of the cozy pubs in Covent Garden. There’s almost no better place in the world to enjoy a good beer.
Austria has similar beer styles to Germany. The difference is they’re not restricted by beer purity laws, so their beers can be as crafty and inventive as they want. This creates a wider variety and has inspired a large number of craft brewers. The picturesque town of Salzburg is home to Stiegl, one of the country’s most popular brands. They brew lagers and wheat beers primarily though they’re also known for experimenting with fruity specialty beers. Austria is a great place to go enjoy a fresh lager at a microbrewery. Vienna alone has at least a dozen of them.
5. The Netherlands
Going to the Netherlands for beer is nice because you’ll find the brands you know and love. That’s because it’s home to Heineken, one of the world’s largest brewers of beer. Heineken production in the Netherlands also includes Amstel. Though Heineken is mostly brewed in Zoeterwoude, their original brewery location in Amsterdam is now the Heineken Experience Museum. The Dutch are also known for their Grolsch and Bavaria breweries.
Let’s talk about Guinness. For the majority of my life, I thought Guinness beer was gross, always warmer than it should be and thick enough to be coming from an oil field in Saudi Arabia. But then I went to Dublin and I realized that Guinness is amazing. It just doesn’t transport well or taste good in other places. No one really understands stout beers and how to enjoy them like the Irish. I know that a Guinness anywhere else just won’t be as good as a perfectly poured pint at the Guinness Storehouse, which alone is a good enough reason to visit. Aside from Guinness, Ireland is home to the similar Murphy’s stout, Harp lager, and the Irish red ale, Smithwick’s. But it’s Ireland, so if you don’t love beer, just take shots of whiskey at the bar.
3. Czech Republic
The Czechs love and revere good beer. So for an important and fun beer-centric trip, you can’t miss Czechia. The Czech Republic is actually where pilsners were created. In the town of Pilsen you can go to the brewery that produced the world’s first blond lager: Pilsner Urquell. And in my opinion, that’s not even the best Czech beer. I prefer the rich dark Kozel. Staropramen beer, brewed right in Prague, is the favorite local lager. And don’t be put off by the Czech Budweiser; it has nothing to do with the American brand. The best part about enjoying a cool one in the Czech Republic is that it’s super cheap.
Naturally, the home of the largest beer festival in the world would be high on this list. Germans take their beer very seriously and it shows. Beer brewing in Germany is regulated by beer purity laws called Reinheitsgebot, which restrict the ingredients used to water, hops, and barley. If you want fancy, fruity shit beer, go elsewhere. German beers come in many styles, though some of the most popular are the wheat beers, or the Weizenbier. Of these the Hefeweizen is most popular and recognizable overseas. In Germany, you’ll also be treated to some of the world’s best pale lagers, which are the ones you’re most likely to be sucking down at the Oktoberfest tents. Not to be outdone, Germany also produces a wide variety of dark beers including Bock and Dunkel lagers.
Belgium is rarely on the top of any list for me. (Well, I do think Brussels is one of the biggest shitholes I’ve ever visited, but that’s not a great list to be on.) But their beer bests all the beer in Europe. Thanks to Belgium, the world has Leffe, Hoegaarden, and Stella Artois and those are their cheap beers. Belgium is also home to a wide array of Trappist beers like Chimay and Lambics. That’s right, even non-beer drinkers can enjoy the delight that is a framboise from the Cantillon Brewery. Trappist beers are brewed in one of only eleven monasteries, six of which are in Belgium.The best thing about Belgian beers is that they will fuck you up. You know why Belgians don’t have a beer festival like Oktoberfest? Because you would have alcohol poisoning after a liter of Delirium Tremens.