Before I go on any further, I want to make a couple of things clear:
1. I am not an alcoholic
2. I am a drinkie. A drinkie to drinks is what a foodie is to food.
I have compiled a list of my favourite beers over the course of 3 months we spent touring this continent. Your favourite can be different; no hard feelings but these are surely worth a try. So whether you are an alcoholic or a drinkie, this one is for you. Read on!
Iceland – Viking
• Beer was banned in Iceland until 1989, so once the ban was lifted Icelanders really gave beer brewing a go
• 62% of the population today drinks beer and Viking is the uncontested No.1
Try it at: Bravó Bar, Reykjavik
Spain – Mahou
• Probably the second last place on earth (After France) you would think of ordering beer at a local bar
• Well, you are in for a surprise, Cerveza (Beer) is popular everywhere and Mahau leads them all
Try it at: Museo del Jamon, Madrid
Czech Republic – Pilsner Urquell
• The Czechs and the Germans meet head-on when it comes to per capita beer consumption. At present Czechs are the clear leader
• In the beer houses here, the bartender will refill your glass every time you empty it – I literally had to physically stop him from pouring more!
Try it at: the closest pub to your hotel in Prague
France – Kronenbourg 1664
• The French and The Beer! I was surprised, are you?
• The French have a long history of beer brewing unknown to most. Kronenbourg is a welcome change when touring this wine country
Try it at: the 58 Tour Eiffel Restaurant, Paris
Belgium – Chimay
• When in Belgium, do what the Belgian do! Drink Belgian beer. You can never run out of varieties to try!
• Of all the ones I tried, I really enjoyed the “Trappist” beers (brewed in a monastery by monks) and Chimay was my absolute favourite
Try it at: Delirium Café, Brussels
Netherlands – Bavaria
• When you see Bavaria all over Dutch pubs, hold on your thoughts before you think Germans have taken over the beer scene here.
• Bavaria is as Dutch as it could be and with its own unique and distinct taste
Try it at: The Bulldog , Amsterdam
Greece – Fix Hellas
• Greeks have some really weird alcoholic drinks (Read > Raki, Ouzo and Retsina). But they also have been doing conventional things since ages (Read > Brew beer)
• Apparently, the study of beer and beer-making – Zythology is derived from the Greek words “zythos” (beer) and “logos” (study). Thats some real Greek influence!
Try it at: Selene Cafe, Santorini
Germany – HOFBRÄUHAUS
• Germans are really serious about their beer. They even have a Purity Law which states that only ingredients which can be used to make beer in Germany are Water, Barley, and Hops. Nothing else!
• While HB is widely available across Germany, you must certainly have a pint at their brewhouse in Munich. It is an experience!
Try it at: Hofbräuhaus Brewery, Munich
Hungary – Dreher
• A word of caution: it is considered rude to clink your beer glasses in Hungary.
• The legend goes that when the 1848 Hungarian revolution was defeated, 13 Hungarian generals were executed, and the Austrians clinking their beer glasses after each execution.
• After this, Hungarians vowed to not cheer with the beer for 150 years. That time has passed, but it’s still a custom
Try it at: Szimpla Kert, Budapest
Slovenia – Union
• There is nothing more contentious than arguing with a Slovene about the brand of domestic beer they prefer
• Union and Lasko are like Coke and Pepsi here. I have my clear favourite though!
Try it at: cake shop of Hotel Park, Lake Bled
Turkey – Efes
• The Turks are increasingly moving away from the traditional Raki (aniseed-flavored alcoholic drink). It takes guts to try Raki!
• Efes is the Nation’s second favourite after raki and one of the most beloved beers
Try it at: Cafe Keyif , Göreme
Slovakia – Zlaty Bazant
• Bratislava takes its beer just as seriously as its more famous neighbour, Prague
• Make sure to try their favourite beer when in town.
Try it at: UFO, Bratislava
Croatia – Karlovačko
• Honestly, Croatia is more famous for its cafe-culture than its beer-culture
• But when you are in this country and need a break from coffee, be sure to ask for a Karlovačko
Try it at: one of the many cafes in Zagreb Old town
Denmark – Carlsberg
• You can have a Carlsberg anywhere in the world, but it is another feeling to have it where it all began
• When Danish scientist Niels Bohr won the Nobel Prize in 1922, Carlsberg gave him a perpetual supply of beer piped into his house. That some serious extra motivation to win more Nobels in the future!
Try it at: any supermarket :P
Norway – Hansa
• The Norwegians really love beer!
• So much so that Norway‘s first aircraft hijacking was resolved after the hijacker surrendered his weapon in exchange for more beer
Try it at: any supermarket :P
Austria – Stiegl
• Germany and Austria might be politically separated but the beer brewing passion is still the same
• Try Stiegl, but beware the sour notes can come as an unpleasant surprise
Try it at: Cafe Landtmann, Vienna