Best Beer Cities in the World

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Travel Features >> Best Beer Cities in the World

Best Beer Cities in the World

August 05, 2011

To choose the best of anything is difficult, but to narrow down on the best beer cities in the whole wide world is really, really tough! Anyway we’ve had a go at it and this is what made it to the top of our list. So how do we choose? Do we go by which city has the most number of breweries or bars? Or do we go by how many types of beer are served – ale, lager, porter, stout, Guinness…Does it matter? Just go and bend you elbow at a bar at any one of the cities listed below and down mugs of the great mellow yellow liquid – here’s to beer.

Cheers! Prost! Salud!

Munich, Germany
No, Munich did not make it to this list just because the biggest beer festival Oktoberfest is held here. Munich has been brewing beer for close to 3000 years and they seem to have mastered the art here. Munich’s oldest brewery in Munich is the Augustiner and was founded in 1294 by a family of monks. The beer brewed here at Augustiner is rated as one of the best beers in Germany, so good that they do not even advertise! Filled with ‘bier gartens’- some 20 major ones, and umpteen number of beer halls of which Hofbräuhaus is the most famous of them all, Munich is the place to be in if you are a beer lover. By the way, in Munich, beer is not defined as alcohol, rather staple food. So bring on the beer!

Prague, Czech Republic
They say that the Czech Republic is the world number one beer drinking nation, so no prizes for guessing why Prague is on this list. Czechs have been brewing beer for over 1000 years and lay claim to the fact that they are one of the biggest beer-guzzling nations in the world with a whopping per capita number of 157 litres! Prague has the oldest brewpub in the world U Fleku and the Czechs like to drink their beer on the tap from tank pubs. It tastes much better than beer that has been pasteurized and bottled or canned! The most well known Czech beers are ‘Budvar’ and ‘Pilsner’. So go on a beer crawl and get sloshed, coz in Prague drinking beer is cheaper than drinking water. It can’t get any better than that, can it?

Dublin, Ireland
The Irish sure know their beer, or more precisely Guinness. Guinness is known to be a dark stout made from roasted malt, and is almost a second name for Dublin. More people come to Dublin to go Guinness tasting than to see the sights. Spend some time at Dublin’s oldest pubs, some of them being The Brazen Head, Doheny & Nesbitt or O’Donoghue’s. You are bound to have great time in the friendly back-slapping atmosphere at the Irish pubs and taverns that are around every corner. A pit stop at St James’ Gate, the largest brewer of stout in the world, is a must for any beer loving person. Oh, and just by the way, the best view of Dublin is from the seventh floor of the 250 year old brewery – Guinness Storehouse! Come take a look.

Bamberg, Germany
The tiny town of Bamberg in Bavaria is big on beer. Nine breweries (and a tenth one in the offing) that produce 50 different varieties of beer of which Rauchbier or for the uninitiated, ‘smoked beer’, is a specialty. Lots of good quality cheap beer is available in Bamberg, and the bars and beer gardens are busy through the year serving beer on the tap to the thirsty. So come to Bamberg as a just your regular beer drinker and leave a connoisseur - that’s what beer drinking in Bamberg does to you!

Brussels, Belgium
And you thought that Brussels was known for its sprouts. Well think again, as beer is synonymous with Brussels being the number one drink in the city, in fact all of Belgium, and beer is to Belgians what wine is to the French. Drinking beer in Brussels is serious business and the different shaped glasses and mugs they are served in have more meaning than just a marketing gimmick. A goblet lets you take a whiff of the aroma of the beer and a tulip shaped glass holds in the head or froth. Two types of beer – the Trappist and Lambic are the most popular beers served in the bars and pubs of Brussels. The Lambic is a unique beer brewed with stale hops, sometimes fruit flavoured and the Trappist is a beer originally brewed by monks. Go easy on the beer in Brussels, as they are more potent than most with a high alcohol content of 7 -11percent.

Portland, Oregon, USA
One might think that Portland on the west coast of the USA is a rather unlikely contender to be included in this list of top ten beer capitals of the world. But in the last couple of decades or so, Portland has slowly but surely earned its place. A micro brewing revolution has taken place and with 32 breweries – the most in any city on earth – producing craft-brewed beer. Micro brewing started in the mid 1980’s when a Bill was passed that home brewed beer could be sold commercially. There is no better way to beat the summer sun than downing a pint or two of the best beer money can buy this side of the Pacific. Portland is filled with beer pubs that will serve you bottled, canned or beer on the tap. From light lagers to pale ale, from standard Guinness to a dark stout, Portland serves it all.
And by the way, another name for Portland is Beervana – let’s drink a pint to that!

Sapporo, Japan
Sake is not all that the Japanese like to drink. Beer is actually the most popular drink in this Japanese city and is available all over the city at vending machines! Befittingly, there is a beer museum – the only one in Japan, and all beer lovers should head there to know what makes beer the number one alcoholic beverage with so many people the world over. Once done with the museum, hop across to a beer bar or beer garden and knock back a couple of cold beers from a can or the tap. What better way to spend a hot summer afternoon in Sapporo?

Amsterdam, Netherlands
Amsterdam is many things to different people. Cannabis capital, biking capital, tulip capital…but to the beer lover, it is most definitely the beer capital. Heineken and Amstel are the world famous beers brewed and sold by the barrel in the Netherlands, but take time out to sample the hand crafted beer and also witte ( wheat beer) in a snug little bar along the canal. The beer in Amsterdam is often called pils by the Dutch and is served up with a frothy head that would thrill any beer drinker. A novel way of sightseeing is to take a beer bike tour of the city. What’s a beer bike? Well, it’s a bike with a bar set up on it. Carries 10-20 people on board and you peddle along watching the sight and enjoying your tipple!

Sydney, Australia
What’s Australian for beer? FOSTERS. That’s how the ad goes. And they are not wrong. In Sydney, Fosters may not be the most popular beer – the locally brewed Toohey is- but beer is definitely the drink that is top of the pops, or should we say ‘hops’ in Australia. Sydney is a beer drinking city with loads of bars and pubs at CBD where everyone heads to after a day’s work to hang out and just chill with a cold, cold beer. Beer in Australia dates back to the days of Captain Cook and the first brewery Kissing Point was opened in Sydney. Statistics have it, that a single Australian consumes 110 litres of beer annually. That’s a hell of lot of beer, wouldn’t you say?

Montreal, Canada
One would imagine that wine is the drink favoured in Montreal given the city very European and more so French air. But you’re wrong. Beer is the number one drink of Montreal. With more micro breweries and brewpubs than we can count, Montreal throws up a variety of beers to choose from and they are based on their colour: blonde, rousse (red), ambrée (amber), and noir (dark) – so when at a bar be sure to order your colour preference instead of ale or lager!

Hanoi, Vietnam
When you are in Hanoi, do as the locals do: drink bia hoi, the ‘fresh beer’. The beer, as the name suggests is freshly brewed and spends little time getting fermented – it goes straight from the brewery to the beer mug at Hanoi’s local bia hoi joints (the equivalent to a local pub) that you will find are strewn all over the city in by lanes. This beer is savoured by all – from the rich to the poor, from suited booted young professionals to the hawker in the alleyway. The beer is light – on both the head and the belly and the pocket too! So when you are in Hanoi, spend some time at a bia hoi joint. Be warned: it won’t be a posh bar. You will most likely have the locals for company, sit at a table with a fan whirring above and you may be served in chipped Styrofoam cup, but if you are a beer lover (and if you are reading this, you are!) you shouldn’t miss this experience for the world! So go ahead, ‘go bia hoi’ in Hanoi! Oh, and remember, as in most of Southeast Asia beer is served with ice here.

Mexico City
Corona is the name we associate with beer when it comes to Mexico City, but there are very many more beers that this city is home to. Sample the Negro Modelo, which is a silky smooth dark beer best downed with a chipotle burrito or sit under the warm Mexican sun and chill out over a cold,cold Modelo especial or sip a Dos Equis Amber lager. So what is so special about Mexican beer? They are light, they are refreshing and well, a glass of beer is the ideal way to beat the heat.
No beer halls here - beer in sprawling Mexico City is best drunk in the cantinas, mariachi clubs and bars. If you are looking for beer that is quite different from what you normally drink, be sure to try the crisp regional Indio, Superior and Victoria – they are the perfect foil to a hot sunny afternoon! Don’t be surprised if you are served your beer with a slice of lime and some salt. Why? Well that’s another story for another time. Suffice for now to say the Mexicans like the lemony flavor! So go with the flow and drink beer the Mexican way – with lime, salt and all!

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