Europe is home to several thousand breweries, ranging from small regional producers to the powerhouses exported around the globe. Beer is an integral part of the culture in Europe and it’s immediately evident in countries like Germany where it’s not uncommon to see a teenager drinking a cold beer on a hot day. In fact, some restaurants will charge you more for a soda or iced tea than a local beer!
If you are heading abroad in search of the perfect brew, here is a beer lover’s guide to Europe.
Please drink responsibly and use a designated driver, as your RoamRight policy does not cover loss resulting from or caused by being under the influence of alcohol.
Belgians are passionate about their beer and, with over 650 varieties available in Belgium, travelers will obviously have the opportunity to sample a huge variety of beers. The ultimate experience for many beer aficionados is visiting one of the Trappist breweries, which are still active abbeys. You won’t be able to walk in and see the beer being produced, but you can stop by the official café to try the signature Trappist brews and perhaps even take a few to go.
Belgian beers typically have personalized beer glasses, which are uniquely shaped. Aside from great marketing, these glasses are specifically designed to enhance the overall experience by highlighting the aromas and flavor that the specific beer is known for.
For travelers exploring Europe by car, Belgium even has a suggested beer route – it’s like wine tasting for beer fans!
While Belgians are obviously passionate about beer, Belgium pales in comparison to the production amounts in Germany. Stats indicate Germany has about 5,000 types of beer available! Head to one of the country’s many beer gardens, or “biergartens,” and find out what makes German beer so popular. Be sure to try two rival specialties – Altbier made in Dusseldorf and Kolsh made in Cologne.
A beer guide to Europe would be remiss in not mentioning Ireland and its selection of hearty brews. While world famous options like Guinness are enough to bring beer fans in masses to Ireland, the country also produces a number of impressive brews that are not as well known outside of Europe. Of course, a stop by the Guinness Storehouse is a must on any trip to Dublin – pick up your favorite souvenirs and be sure to get a freshly poured pint of Guinness up at the Gravity Bar – the perfect spot to enjoy a beer with sweeping views of Dublin itself.
Czech Republic has a long history with beer, with one of the most popular varieties being made there since the 13th century. The city of Plzen (Pilsen) is home to the beloved pale pilsner lager, Pilsner Urquell. It was the world’s first pilsner style beer. Another famous brand is Budweiser Budvar, exported under a variety of names in other parts of the world. You might be familiar with the trademark disputes between Anheuser-Busch and Budvar over the name “Budweiser”, hence the varying names. You will find Czech brewed Budvar as Czechvar in North America, while American Budvar is known as “Bud” in nearly all markets within the European Union.
The UK has a big beer scene filled with interesting varieties like bitters, porters, ales and stouts. Cask conditioned beer is popular in the United Kingdom as well. For those unfamiliar with the term, cask-conditioned beer, or cask ale, is unfiltered and unpasteurized beer that matures in casks in the cellar of the pub versus at the brewery itself.
What’s your favorite European brew?