- Food and Cooking
The Best Beers in the World
Best Beers and Ales from Around the World
As an Englishman, my favourite beers, when at home, are all dark British ales, especially from traditional breweries, but I travel a lot in Europe and the rest of the world and have done a lot of extensive "research" into the best beers around the world. When travelling in Europe I like dark Belgian beers, but when these aren't available or when traveling in different climates I drink a wider variety or beers, ales and lagers. Here are the results of my research...
The Best Beers from Around the World
Where Does the Best Beer Come From?
Fullers London Pride, Chiswick, London (England)
I have put London Pride first because it kept me sane and made me feel less homesick while living in Sweden, fifteen years ago. I was on a work assignment in Stockholm and the very strict anti drink laws at the time meant that only relatively low alcohol beers were available from supermarkets and anything stronger had to be bought from the Systembolaget, the government run off licences, which were only open during business hours during the week. The only ale they sold was London Pride for about Â£5 for a 33cl bottle. I bought a few of these and rationed myself. A special treat. The rest of the time I drank the watery Swedish lagers. London Pride is brewed at the Griffin Brewery in Chiswick near where I now live, and is a delicious, fairly dark, malty beer. It isn't particularly strong at just 4.1% ABV on draught or 4.7% in bottles or cans. Fullers is London's last traditional family brewer and has been making beer since 1845. ESB is a stronger, 5.5% draught beer, which is a good winter alternative to London Pride and Fullers 1845 is an even more potent sibling, which was launched to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the brewery and would be my preference if I were to drink bottled beer, rather than draught. It has a more complex, bigger flavour, and is 6.3% ABV, but is otherwise a similar style. Golden Pride is even more potent at 8.5%, but doesn't taste quite as good. Perhaps a little too strong for this style of beer.
The Best Beers in the World
Kwak is an amusing Belgian beer, which is dark and quite strong at 8.5% ABV and has a pleasant flavour, but what is particularly noteworthy is the glass it comes in. The glass is like a small yard of ale glass (a foot of ale perhaps, although it is Belgian, so 30cm) with a round bottom, which one might think is a bit foolish, but it also comes with a small wooden rack, which is difficult to use and a real test of sobriety. To prevent this sought-after object going astray, some bars in Belgium request the deposit of one shoe for each glass. The reason it is called Kwak is that is the noise it makes when you drink it fast and the air rushes into the bulb at the bottom of the glass, usually accompanies by a wet face and clothing. Fun, but quite expensive and makes a nice souvenir, if you have a pair of shoes you don't need.
Adnams Broadside, England
Adnams is another old English brewery. Beer was being made on the site of the Adnams brewery in 1396 and the Adnams name has been associated with the site since 1857. Broadside is a rich dark cask bitter, tasting of hops and malt. In draught form it tastes strong, but is actually only 4.3% whereas in bottles it is 6.2%
Sierra Nevada, USA
An American beer! A couple of decades ago recommending an American beer would have been unheard of, in Europe, but the range of beers available now in the USA is extremely good. I have been regularly working in California for fifteen years and microbreweries have been popular there for all of that time, but there are now many microbreweries all over the States not just in California. When traveling in North America I always search out the local microbrewery selection first, but Sierra Nevada makes a wonderful second choice, with a dark amber colour it is far more complex than typical American lagers, it is always served cold and is both thirst quenching full-flavoured. Samuel Adams, brewed in Boston, is another good choice too, when in the US. The usual English beer available in most American bars is Bass, which is perhaps why English beer has a bad reputation in North America.
Trappistes Rochfort 10
This is a seriously potent beer from Belgium. A Triple Trappist beer of 11.3 % ABV, but somehow tastes even stronger, with it's intense complex flavours and very dark colour. It also has a little brother called Rochfort 8 which is just 9.2% Both of these are very interesting beers, but you wouldn't want to have too many.
Some More Great Beers
Delirium Nocturnum: 9.0% brewed near Ghent in Belgium, by a family run brewery that is over 350 years old. Delicious complex dark beer.
Samuel Smiths Old Brewery Bitter The Old Brewery at Tadcaster established in 1758 is Yorkshire’s oldest brewery, but perhaps the most notable thing is it is the cheapest pint you are likely to find in London (less than Â£2 a pint until the 2011 tax rises) and some of the Samuel Smiths pubs are the most historically interesting in London (e.g. The Olde Cheshire Cheese on Fleet Street) A very traditional pint of bitter.