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Beer lovers, you don’t have to go far in Europe to try amazing new ales. The options are endless! After all, Europeans have been brewing beer for hundreds of years…they know how to get it right.
Here are a few highlights for beer enthusiasts making their way around Europe.
Belgium’s beer obsession
Beer is something that Belgians regard with the utmost respect. Although it’s only a tiny country, Belgium has more than 100 separate breweries producing hundreds of different brands.
It is said that Belgians take their beer as seriously as the French take their wine. Beers are paired with certain dishes, each one has its own specific glass to bring out aromatic flavors, etc. They can also be served cold, cool, or at room temperature depending on the type of brew. It’s a lot to learn!
But to soak up the booze culture, you can opt to try out a Brussels Beer Tasting Tour or drive a Belgian Beer Route. Yes, just follow the map to find your way to points of interest, and let your inner beer connoisseur run wild!
Germany’s Oktoberfest, and the popularity of beer halls
This beer culture is partially due to the fact that Germany is home to the oldest food regulation in the world, which still exists today in original form. Known as the Reinheitgsebot, or the “Purity Law,” this law was ordered by Duke Wilhelm IV of Bavaria in the year 1516, decreeing that beer should only be brewed from barley, hops, and water. While yeast is now another vital ingredient, brewers still remain true to their roots.
And to pay homage to this important part of German culture, every year a 16-day festival known as Oktoberfest is held in Munich. You’ve already heard of it? Well, that makes sense, considering it’s the world’s largest fair, attracting over five million people annually! Visitors indulge in various German beers, as well as traditional foods.
As if that wasn’t enough, Munich is also famous for its beer halls – massive pubs that specialize in beer. You’ve probably seen them in movies or photos: long lines of tables where people socialize and drink until the wee hours of the morning. Almost every brewery in Munich operates a beer hall! The largest one in history seated 5000 people, and was known as the Mathaser (it’s now a movie theater).
What, you’ve already got your bags packed for Germany? Clink your beers and say, “PROST!”
Czech Republic, the beer lovers’ capital!
You might be surprised to learn that Czechs are the biggest beer consumers in the world. Yes, they beat out Germany and Belgium. In fact, Germany trails quite a distance behind at 107 liters of beer per capita annually, while Czech Republic weighs in at a whopping 132 liters per capita! Chalk it up to the fact that they invented the Pilsner. We suggest getting in a little practice before you visit, especially if you’re thinking about dabbling in a little Absinthe as well.
If you’re in Prague, you might want to check out a Glass and Brewery Day Trip from Prague . You’ll find a huge selection of Czech beers here, as well as some innovative flavors that might make you scratch your head, like cherry, blueberry, banana, and more. It’s like a four-course dinner!
Read more about things to do in Prague
British beer and the English pub
British beer and pubs in England have surprisingly far-reaching and important roles in English history. For the Brits, a pub is much more than a drinking establishment: it’s a social hub, a communal area, and often the focal point of many towns. Nearly two-thirds of all beer consumed in Britain is drunk outside the home, usually in one of over 60,000 pubs around the island.
What’s with all the pubs? Back in 1830, William IV passed the Beerhouse Act. During the Industrial revolution, heavy taxes were causing small pubs to struggle financially. However, everything changed when the Act was passed and beers were allowed to be sold for a small fee. You’ll find many pubs nowadays still with the name William IV attached!
Read more about things to do in England
Guinness Brewery in Dublin, Ireland
Has there ever been a brewery as iconic as Guinness? Located in the heart of Dublin, the Guinness Storehouse is one of Ireland’s most important tourist attractions, and for good reason. The popular Irish dry stout was created by Arthur Guinness back in 1725! Nowadays, Guinness is one of the most successful beer brands worldwide, brewed in almost 60 countries and available in over 100. That’s not bad for a Guinness legacy, right?
After you complete the tour (or if you opt to walk around the Storehouse by yourself), make sure you head to the Gravity Bar at the very top of the Storehouse. You’ll get amazing views of Dublin, AND you’ll have your very own Guinness poured for you.
Then head to the nearest pub on foot to continue the Irish research.
Read more: 5 Places to Eat and Drink in Dublin
- Candice Walsh