You want to travel and you want good beer. We know exactly where you should go.
Poland – Krakow
In the past decade Poland has made some pretty impressive forward strides in its pub, brewery and beer scenes, with independent breweries and taprooms popping up all over the country. Perhaps the place which has benefitted from the beer the most is Krakow. Once, a city which could offer a meagre choice of four markedly bland beers, Krakow is now famed for its brewing bravado, offering tasty beers which compete easily with the world’s best. House of Beer offers an expansive range of beer and is home to highly knowledgeable staff. If you know your hops and are looking for like- minded individuals to converse with, try Strefa Piwa, a cosy craft beer pub where ale aficionados like to hang out. Krakow; a place where micro breweries, tap rooms and pubs nestle down historic cobbled streets, should be high on your list of the best places to hit the beer.
Czech Republic – Prague
There is a Czech proverb which goes,”Kde se pivo vari, tam se dobre dari” (where beer is brewed, life is good.) if that’s the case then the citizens of Prague must have it extremely good, living in a city with approximately 30 breweries and brewpubs. Prague is a wonderful city, with plenty to take in, from the big attractions like the breath-taking old town and the stunning Charles Bridge, to the National Theatre and the scenic walks along the river, you will need a stop or two at some of the plentiful cosy pubs. Beer affordability and an excellent public transport system (Hello trams!) make Prague an easy choice for any self-respecting beer connoisseur.
Germany – Hamburg
Definitely not a newcomer to the world of beer, having been brewing since the middle ages, Hamburg has established its reputation as an old hand at creating fantastic, traditional Bavarian beers. Whether you choose to visit a kneipen (that’s a pub, to you and me) a quaint lit beer garden on a summer’s eve, or if you settle on a trip to Block Bräu, an impressive beer hall with 3 floors worth of stunning views over the harbour, the odds are you will have a fantastic booze experience in Hamburg.
Oh Dublin. Land of cosy pubs and merry folk music. You had to crop up somewhere on this list and let’s face it, Guinness is our first thought when we think of you. A trip to the Guinness storehouse is undoubtedly worth a visit, with ample opportunities for tasting, and the gravity bar, where you can take in some fantastic views of Dublin. The city also holds its own when it comes to brews with lesser claims to fame. 1996 saw the opening of Dublin’s first pub brewery, The Porterhouse. Offering live music and a wide range of beers, the Porterhouse has paved the way for many smaller establishments to begin serving a wider range of ales alongside local fayre and live music.
Yes, Bruges may be a bit of a tourist honeypot, but there is a valid reason for that and it is well worth going for the weekend, not only to sample some of the excellent Belgian beers on offer, but also to take in Bruges house-lined canals and its UNESCO world heritage site old town. Find an establishment overlooking the main square and people watch as you sip on a local beer (many of which are served in their own distinct, branded glasses, designed to enhance the flavour of your chosen beer) Escape the crowds and meander down the back streets and into a local brasserie for a more intimate and atmospheric feel.
Beer may not be the first thing which comes to mind when you think of Amsterdam, but we can assure you that Amsterdam has a great craft beer scene with plenty of independent breweries providing refreshing and unique craft beers. Brouwerij ‘t IJ is probably the most established independent brewery in the city and you can sample its beers on the terrace at the brewery, beneath Amsterdam’s tallest windmill. Check out one or two of the many brown cafes (bruin café) for a local insight into Amsterdam’s beer scene. Brown cafes are typical Amsterdam pubs, usually serving a wide range of beers on tap. They are so called because of their mustard colour schemes and friendly café-like atmospheres.
Another surprise entry on the list. Perhaps thought of more for its grapes than its hops, it turns out there is a new renaissance in Italy and it has a lot to do with people wanting a different beer to the one which begins with “P” and ends with “eroni”. The craft beer scene in Rome is one of youthfulness and adventure, resulting in plenty of interesting, Belgium-inspired fruity beers. Local bars and breweries have a cosy, intimate feel and if you visit at the right time, they offer a bit of an escape from the tourist crowds. A good example of this is No.Au, a small bar, with staff who know and look after their beers and their customers.
USA- Portland, Oregon
Regularly topping US lists of best beer cities, Portland also finds a place on our list. Priding it’s self on having more breweries than any other city in the world, don’t be fooled into thinking it’s quantity over quality. Portland locals tend to favour IPA’s, but if that isn’t your scene, then many breweries are getting creative with spicy saisons, dark ales and fruit beers. Visit during the summer months and enjoy a cold one on one of the many roof top bars. Portland even has it’s own gluten free brewery- Ground Breaker Brewing, which is great for those who previously thought beer was a no-go.
You may not have to look any further than your own doorstep when searching for your perfect pint. London is home to a multitude of brilliant bars and pubs, many offering a wide selection of craft beers on tap. London is an absolute hotspot for microbreweries, many of them serving up delicious meals which have been expertly matched to the beers on tap. For something a little different, check out Howling Hops in Hackney Wick- this modern, industrial styled brewery is unique for serving its beers straight from the tank, rather than the cask.
Brewing and beer festival heavyweight Munich is the second German city to make our list. Hosting the world renowned Oktoberfest, where there are 16 beer tents for the beer sampling (and possibly slightly overwhelmed) visitor and plenty more attractions, we could hardly leave Munich out. If you don’t fancy visiting during Oktoberfest, then cosmopolitan Munich has plenty more to offer. Look beyond Munich’s main, big-name breweries and you will find more diverse, small scale breweries such as brew houses Weisses Brauhaus and Giesinger Bräu, both of which offer something a little different to appease your taste buds.