Beer in Europe
Europeans certainly know their beers. With world-class breweries in
Belgium, beer connoisseurs with a passion for exciting tipples or those just looking to try something new can enjoy tastings, tours and festivals with enough variety to keep you coming back for more.
It is said that beer is to Belgium what wine is to
France, and with their own patron saint of beer casting a watchful eye over the country's 150 breweries, it's safe to say that beer is as ingrained into Belgian culture as
chocolate or chips. In fact, many of Belgium's 650 different beer varieties have their own specifically-designed glasses which enhance the flavour of their contents.
It’s hard to pick just 1 city to visit in Belgium for a great beer experience, but Brussels is a city that should be at the top of every single beer lover’s list. Throughout the city there are hundreds of bars and cafes which stock beers from all over the world, among the best is Moeder Lambic Fontainas, with 40 beers on tap and plenty of space to sit, both inside and out. Another great option is the lively Delirium Café, which stocks over 2000 beers from 60 countries. You might need to spend more than 1 night there!
The country is renowned for its all-year-round beer festivals: from Antwerp's Modeste Bierfestival to the prestigious Belgian Beer Weekend held every September in the Grand Marché in Brussels. Just like Belgium itself, their beer is surprising, exciting and anything but bland.
You can say "auf wiedersehen" to boring beer when visiting Europe's biggest brewer. The Germans have one of the world's highest per-capita consumption rates in the world and are renowned for their friendly and sociable drinking culture.
Germany's brewing tradition means that it is home to some of the oldest bars and breweries in the world.
The Weihenstephan Brewery can lay claim to the title of the world's oldest brewery, and is still open to visitors to this day.
Germany also has 2 of the oldest bars on the continent, Hofbrauhaus and Brauhaus Sion, which both produce eponymous beers.
Each year, Germany plays host to the world-renowned Oktoberfest in the Bavarian beer capital of Munich, attended by millions of stein-swigging punters from far and wide. The Hanover event is the second largest Oktoberfest in Germany, with official 'Oktoberfestbier' brewed traditionally with the notoriously strong alcohol content. If you fancied a slightly more off-the-beaten-track festival experience, why not head to one of the stops of the travelling Bierbörse festival, where you'll have your pick of over 500 tipples in city centre venues such as Cologne, Bonn, and Düsseldorf.
Located in the north-western corner of Germany, Bremen is a fairly placid town that happens to be home to one of the most popular beers in the world. Becks may be a popular and commercial beer, but its brewery tour is fantastic, detailed and informative, even including a blind taste test which will doubtless leave a few beer buffs with red faces! Once you’ve learned all about how beer is made, head to Bremen Ratskeller and you can sample some of the best around, as well as a brilliant list of wines and food too.
Cologne and Dusseldorf
Beers from German breweries guarantee quality, thanks to brewers taking years to perfect their art: take the delicate and refreshing Kölsch beer - protected by law so that only beers brewed in and around the Cologne can bear the name. There is also plenty of brewing heritage to soak up in nearby Düsseldorf. Take a guided tour around the traditional Uerige brewery or opt for the Zum Schlüssel experience - both of which include, of course, a sample of their beer.
While it may not enjoy the same reputation for quality beer as its immediate neighbours, Belgium and Germany, Holland is still home to a number of famous breweries and bars. The city also maintains a relaxed, easy-going drinking culture, with canal-side cafes and classically-Dutch pubs galore.
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