DISCOVER THE WORLDS BEST BEER REGIONS
If you like nothing more than combining a good glug of the amber fluid with a trip abroad then the bad news is you’ve just missed this year’s Oktoberfest in Munich. But all is not lost. As any beer drinker will know, there’s always a good excuse for a boozy break!
Good beer is almost everywhere now, which means there are more places than ever before with their own distinct flavour. Unlike wine, beer doesn’t travel particularly well, so to enjoy it at its best, book a trip away and join a beer tour or festival while immersing yourself in the local culture.
But just what are the world’s best beer regions? Here’s our definitive guide…
1. A BAR CRAWL THROUGH BELGIUM
If you’ve caught the beer bug then there’s one place you absolutely must go: Belgium. The beer aside, Belgium is a fantastic country to visit thanks to the Eurostar, which can transport you from London to Brussels in just 1hr 48mins. From there, you can get connecting trains all over Belgium. However, Cantillon, one of the world’s greatest breweries, is just a 10-minute walk from the Gare du Midi, so you really don’t have to leave.
The beauty of Belgian beer is its diversity. This country has something for everyone, almost all of which is of an excellent quality. Whether you like your beer sweet, bitter, sour, citrusy, brewed by monks or fermented in an attic, you’re sure to find a beer for you. There are also plenty of guided beer tours too, with many brewers running their own impromptu beer tours, which could be anything from a quick tipple to a 4-hour tasting tour.
A few of Belgium’s best beer regions include West Flanders, with lots of excellent beer in and around the town of Ypres. Antwerp, just a 40-minute train ride from Brussels, also has a rich beer culture, as does the capital city itself.
2. SOME GREAT GROG IN GERMANY
Although Bavaria’s Oktoberfest beer festival is over, Germany is a country where you can celebrate beer all year round. Bavaria itself is undoubtedly one of the hotspots for German beer makers. The town of Bamberg near Munich boasts a remarkable 10 breweries and over 150 pubs, which is not bad for a town with a population of just over 75,000. Every year in August it also hosts the Sandkerwa Beer Festival, where you’ll find giant pretzels, plenty of pork and some excellent smoked beer.
While Munich is famed for its giant beer halls, Berlin is currently in the midst of a beer renaissance, with craft breweries claiming back the city from the corporate breweries. One of the original craft beer leaders in the city is Eschenbrau, which offers a great selection of modern beers. Cologne, with its resident Kölsch beer, is also a must for beer lovers and offers a host of local beer tours.
3. A FLAGON IN FRANCE
You might think that France, traditionally a refuge for wine lovers, would be a strange choice for fans of the malty stuff, but these days, the cool kids in France are all about the beer. This year, Paris Beer Week in June dedicated nine days to the love of craft beer, with independent brewers from all over the country coming together to celebrate the movement. The festival culminates in a ‘Grand Finale’, where the brewers compete for the honour of ‘best beer’.
The craft beer revolution has reached well beyond the capital and is taking the country by storm. In fact, France has the third highest number of microbreweries in Europe behind Germany and the UK. In most of the country, the likelihood is you’ll have to go to a specialist bar to escape the ubiquitous Kronenbourg 1664, but once you find a good one then oh la la!
4. NEW WORLD BEER IN NEW ZEALAND
It’s not just the Old World countries that offer the best beer drinking experiences. Wellington in New Zealand is flying the flag for the New World and has quickly become the craft beer capital of the southern hemisphere. Wellington’s rise to beer brewing greatness is a relatively recent phenomenon but it’s certainly a welcome one.
Enthusiasts can experience all types of drinks on self-guided beer tours. Just download a map and you’ll be able to navigate your way around the city’s eight craft beer breweries, 16 craft beer bars and the four bottle stores that sell only the finest local brews. You’ll find everything from craft breweries experimenting with volcanic rocks to some rather interesting beer and ice cream combinations. Whatever your favourite brew, 25 percent of the beer sold in Wellington is craft, so you’ll never be short of a drink.
5. DRINK A JAR IN JAPAN
As a country that’s known for its attention to detail, it’s perhaps not surprising that Japan is home to some truly great beer. While it might be a bit far to travel for beer tours alone, it’s well worth spending at least a couple of days sampling the ji-biru (‘local beer’) or kurafuto bia (‘craft beer’) brewed in the country’s many microbreweries.
Japanese breweries are perennial winners at the International Brewing Awards, so you can be sure of a real treat. Some of the best craft breweries in Japan include Yo-Ho Brewing in Nagano, Minoh Brewery in Osaka and Hokkaido’s Abashiri Beer Brewery, which originally started as an initiative by Tokyo University.
Ready to book your next beer tour?
At Teletext Holidays, you can book a trip to one of the world’s best beer regions and still have enough change to enjoy a local beer tour. Take a look at our range of destinations and book online today.