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Beer Travel Guide To Europe

Updated on July 5, 2012

Europe has an endless list of attractions for travelers, from architecture and art to parks and beaches to food and wine. There is one more thing that could be as much attractive as tasting wine and visiting vineyards of France, Italy or Spain. I am talking about beer! And if you love beer as much as I do - then it's a reason enough to visit Europe, where all beer traditions started, and which centuries-old recipes were adapted by the rest of the world. Germany, being a home to Oktoberfest festivals and the world's most enthusiastic consumers of beer, dominates European beer market with the biggest number of breweries among European countries. It would be safe to say that Germany is number one travel destination among beer lovers. But let's explore four other European countries, which are probably slightly overlooked by travelers, who appreciate a "pint" of brew after a long day of sightseeing.


Belgium has more than hundred breweries collectively producing about 500 different sorts of beers which in breadth almost rival the wines in France. Most of them with specially shaped beer glasses in which only this kind of beer may be served. The shape of each glass is specially designed for a particular beer in order to emphasize its flavor and character. The choices of flavor are endless, from raspberry to chocolate to peach and cherry. The diversity of styles is huge, from blonde ale to lambic to Trappist and abbey. The most interesting kind of beer, which can not be found anywhere else in world, is Trappist beer. Six Trappist abbeys, which were established by Trappist monks who left France after the turbulence of the Napoleonic period, produce rich dark ales according to centuries-old methods. Chimay, Orval, Westmalle are among them. There are other Belgium ales similar to Trappist, but not made in monasteries, such as Leffe, Duvel, Grimbergen and Karmeliet. Another type of beer which Belgium is most famous for is the lambic beer. Lambic beer is made with an ancient style of brewing, depending on spontaneous fermentation to produce a bone-dry, profoundly tart, and naturally effervescent drink that improves with years in the bottle - much like wine. It is exclusively brewed around Brussels and the Senne Valley. Most famous kind of lambic beers is Gueuze, also known as Brussels Champagne. There are a lot of special beer tours to Belgian breweries, however you can try most of Belgian beers in many bars and pubs in Bruges, Brussels, Antwerp, and other Belgian cities. And eventhough you don't travel to Belgium especially for beers, still, if you are here, to try a Belgium beer is a must!


Beer is a huge part of the Dutch culture. Heineken, Grolsch and Amstel are the most famous names and most likely be found in your local bar. Then, you should probably ask, why travel to the Netherlands to try beer? Because, there are over 30 other lesser-known Dutch beers and all of them worth a taste. Because, only in one Amsterdam there are 1200 bars and pubs, where you can enjoy not only local beers but Belgian ales, German and British beers. There are many places with large stock of different beers for the hard-core beer-lovers around the country, such as Cafe België, Utrecht; De Geus, Enschede; De Pintelier, Groningen; Café Samson and Café Jos, Nijmegen; De Beiaard, Enschede; Kandinsky, Tilburg. There many beer shops such as Berts Bierhuis in Utrecht and De Bierkoning in Amsterdam. And, by the way, not only Munich has its Oktoberfest, Amsterdam has the annual Pint Bokbierfestival. Beer is consumed here for any occasion. You even can drink beer on the streets during different celebrations, such as Queens Day. Draught pils is the most popular type of beer here, however if you ever travel to the Netherlands you must try a classic Dutch "white" beer, such as Wieckse Witte. A muddy, orange, yellow beer with a thin and creamy head, Wieckse Witte has a genuinely sweet and mild taste, without a hint of bitterness - very refreshing and delicious. At least for this taste, the Netherlands should be on every beer fan's must-visit list.


Mostly dominated by Carlsberg, Danish beer scene still can be very interesting for beer lovers. Do you know that the word "ale" came to the English language from this land? Yes, apparently a history of drinking beer in Denmark goes many centuries back. Now Copenhagen is becoming one of Europe's top beer-drinking destinations. The city has many top class beer bars, brewpubs and beer shops. With beers from Ireland, Britain, Belgium, Sweden, Norway and Germany, Copenhagen offers a variety of beers rarely seen elsewhere. Here you can even easily find beers from Greenland and the Faroe Islands. Copenhagen is home to an annual 3-day beer festival, Ølfestival, where Danish and international producers and importers showcase their products. From light beers from around the world to Belgian ales to Bier Likeur - the festival is a paradise for beer lovers. If you can not make it to Ølfestival, here are some interesting places to stop by at anytime when in Copenhagen. Charlie's Bar, a cozy bar, located in central Copenhagen, serves only unpasteurized, unfiltered beers with a variety of draft Danish beers and a lot of different English bottled beers. Gulliver's, with a lovingly handcrafted wooden interior, specializes in English and Irish cask ales and special European bottled beers. Barley Wine, this is the premiere beer shop in which to buy special beers (67 different sorts from Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Germany and the United Kingdom).


England with very old and distinct traditions from other beer brewing countries, today, is one of the very few countries, where ales and cask conditioned beer have remained dominant among domestic beers. English brewers around the country are busily producing over 2,000 varieties of real ale. If you decided to explore English countryside and taste some beers, there are a lot of historic breweries to visit: Fuller's in Chiswick; Greene King in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk; Hall and Woodhouse and Yorkshire's Samuel Smith's and etc., most of them are more than 200 years old. However if you stay in London you still have an opportunity to satisfy your beer hunger. Beer has a long history in London, and Londoners have been drinking it unrefrigerated at the city's pubs for ages. Porter, which was born here, is unquestionably one of the most important styles in beer history. Made by mixed of pale ale, new brown ale and aged brown ale, the blend got its name from its popularity with the street and river porters of London in the 18th century. London pubs and bars offers endless list of beers, ales, porters and stouts. In addition, London holds a lot of beer fests, which happen almost every month, with annual The Biggest Pub In The World (the Great British Beer Festival), where visitors can sample beers, ciders, parries, ales and lagers from the UK and abroad.


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