In many European cities, beer has been a part of life since the Middle Ages. Over the centuries, Germans, Irish, Scots, Czechs, and Belgians have perfected their recipes for brewing ale, lager, stout, draught, pilsner, and more. From the Oktoberfest tents in Munich to the historic pubs of Dublin, Europe’s historic cities can be best explored while tasting their finest and proudest brews. Ready to take a break from sightseeing, relax in a pub, and chat with some locals? Here’s where to find Europe’s best beer:
Ireland’s most famous export might be its legendary Guinness stout. Drinking beer is a way of life on the Emerald Isle, and pubs are embedded in the social fabric of the country. Visit St. James’s Gate Brewery, where Guinness has been brewed since 1759, and enjoy a perfectly pulled pint in the Gravity Bar. Then, venture out into the Irish capital’s medieval streets to find countless pubs and traditional alehouses lining the city streets. The traditional Stag’s Head pub is a Dublin beer drinking institution, and the The Auld Dubliner has traditional music sessions that are not to be missed. For a pub with a slightly more modern twist, visit the multi-level Porterhouse in Temple Bar, which has nine exclusive beers worth sampling.
Find the Gift of the Gab in Ireland
Prague, Czech Republic
It has been said that beer is deeply rooted in the Czech psyche. The Czech people are arguably the largest consumers of beers in world, and they are believed to have invented pilsner. The original Budweiser (or “Budvar”) was invented here, along with the Pilsner Urquell, which was developed in Plzen in 1842. Prague also happens to be among the cheapest places in Europe for drinking amber ale. In the well-preserved Czech capital, crowded beer houses are filled with long wooden tables. Traditionally, bars here pour only one type of beer. Check the sign outside the pub to find out which one!
Beer has been produced in Scotland for approximately 5,000 years and the Celtic tradition of using bittering herbs remained in Scotland longer than the rest of Europe. It has been said that Edinburgh could rival Dublin for the highest concentration of pubs in Europe. Regardless of which city wins the accolade, the cultural capital of Scotland has a remarkable craft beer movement that’s definitely worth checking out. Visit The Hanging Bat, which has become synonymous with craft beer in Edinburgh. This pub is a beer lover’s mecca, with many claiming a barstool to enjoy a remarkably curated range of high quality beers. For a more traditional Scottish pub experience, visit the historic Oxford Bar.
There are some 600 varieties of beer on tap throughout Belgium, from brightwitbiers to rich Trappist ales, and Brussels is the centre of Belgium’s huge beer industry. Many modern beers are infused with fruit, like morello cherries or strawberries. In Brussels, the alcohol content is high and the watering holes are delightful. Quench your thirst at Delirium Café in the old town’s Ilot Sacré, or visit legendary pubs Le Falstaff or Le Bier Circus. If you want to have a drink while people-watching, take a seat at the Art Deco brasserie, A La Mort Subite, off the Grand Place with its 13th-century guild houses. If you visit Brussels during September, catch the annual Belgium Beer Weekend. You can experience 225 beers in one place.
It was 200 years ago that Oktoberfest was first celebrated in honour of the marriage of Germany’s Crown Prince Ludwig. Since then, Oktoberfest has evolved into a 16-day extravaganza celebrating Bavarian culture, heritage, and of course, beer. The annual event attracts millions to Munich and is also celebrated in spin-off parties around the world. However, getting a taste of this southern German city is a great idea any time of year. The city has 36 delightful biergartens. Sample a classic Munich Helles pale lager from one of the city’s six main breweries, and be sure to check out Weihenstephan, the world’s oldest brewery, while you’re here. Cheers!