With September winding down and Oktoberfest underway in Germany, many cities around the world are jointly indulging in a celebration of beer. It’s hard to find a culture or country in the world that doesn’t like to enjoy an ice cold brew. Throughout history, beer has played a pivotal part in the development of humanity. This has led to the rise of great beer cultures, with cities around the world where beer is both consumed and celebrated as part of a cultural heritage. Oktoberfest in Munich is arguably the most famous such celebration for beer, but it’s not the only one. Let’s take a look at other cities that also are a haven for beer drinkers.
London has one of the oldest beer traditions in the world, with pubs that are just about as old as the royal family. Finding a pub in this city is easier than finding a taxi. There are dozens of choices for brews that are both local and national, but all have the same British ale flair. The City has seen a spike in microbrews just in the past ten years, which in turn has also led to the popularity of small beer festivals featuring tastes from London and abroad.
Boston has had beer as part of the fabric of the city since the days of pilgrims. When settlers first landed here, beer was the only viable beverage as most drinking water had unsafe bacteria. The Boston Tea Party started after patrons drank one too many at a tavern. Fast-forward to today and one of the world’s largest craft breweries is named after Sam Adams, one of the conspirators. Boston also has its fair number of microbreweries and has the highest beer consumption rate per capita in the United States. When it comes to barley brew, this city knows a thing or two.
This city may only have 84,000 people, but it also has one of the highest brewery per capita ratios in the world. This is due mostly to the favorable location near water sources in the Smoky Mountains. Heavy hitters like Colorado’s New Belgium and California’s Sierra Nevada have set up shop here, but local flavors have popped up in large numbers as well. Every year brings more and more local beer festivals and new microbrews. In fact, it is estimated that by 2014 there will be a brewery for every 6,000 people in town!
When people think of San Diego, most usually don’t think of a beer city. But along with its great weather and beaches, San Diego also has a growing beer community. Most of the breweries are based outside of the city, but there are over 30 breweries in the county and they continue to grow in prominence and popularity all around the US. Well-known brands are ones with heavy hops like the San Diego IPA or the Stone Brewing Company. Check out a beer festival in the city as one is held almost every weekend somewhere.
The Mile-High City has long been home to a beer culture. The Front Range of the Rockies where Denver is located has no fewer than 100 microbreweries. What started with Coors in Golden has given away to newer successes like New Belgium, Boulder Beer, and others. In the Lower Downtown district of Denver one can find a myriad of beer meccas including Wynkoop Brewery, Ice House, or Falling Rock Tavern. Or you can make a visit to the city in October when the Great American Beer Festival is held, the largest and most prestigious beer festival in the United States.
Drinking beer in the Czech Republic is akin to doing your laundry or taking a shower. The Czechs drink 42 gallons a year, 20% more than the Germans and the highest of any people on the planet. Prague has the benefit of being at the center of the country and is the country’s capital, with cities such as Pizen or Budvar only an hour’s drive away. This country lays claim to some of the world’s best-known brews and brands such as Pilsner Urquell or Budweiser (the FIRST one started in Europe). Prague also has one of the oldest beer pubs at U Fleku, which started service in 1499. Check out the other bars scattered throughout the city or the beer festival during May of each year.
Portland may be a newer city by US standards, but none rival its passion for beer. The city and suburbs contain more than 50 breweries, and the number keeps growing. Its “Beer City” title is challenged by other US rivals such as San Diego, Denver, and Asheville, but none come close when one considers the sheer numbers of different kinds of beer brewed here. Most also have a national presence, with companies like Widmer Brothers, Deschutes or Rogue leading the way. For a city of only 500,000 and 2.3 million metro, Portland is a world class heavy hitter in the beer realm.
It should come as no surprise to find Dublin near the top of this list. The Irish have a proud history of brewing and drinking beer. It has been alleged that it is impossible to venture from one side of Dublin to another without running into a pub (one was found by a map software program, but that’s no fun). The flagship brew of the country is undoubtedly Guinness, which opened at its current brewing location back in 1759. Other well known brands include Harp, Smithwick’s, Murphy’s, Beamish, the list goes on. Altogether, Dublin boasts more than 600 pubs! Not bad for a city of only 1.8 million. Stop by during St. Patrick’s Day for the epitome of beer drinking days.
People think of Belgium having good waffles, but that’s not nearly its greatest contribution to society. Belgium has been brewing beer since the Middle Ages, and has come up with some great styles over the years. Dubbel, Tripel, Lambic, Trappist, and many newer varieties all hail from this beer mecca (who hasn’t heard of a Belgium White?). Beer is so engrained in Belgium’s culture it’s almost like a religion; in fact, many monasteries brewed their own beer to finance their operations and continue to do so. Most restaurants and bars brew on site, which makes for an amazing and fun barhopping trek. With so many brews, and most claiming to be “the world’s best beer”, Brussels has clout and recognition as a great world beer city.
The world’s number one beer city is a no brainer. Home of the world famous Oktoberfest, Munich has the planet’s biggest beer party. Six million people descend on the city for two weeks starting in late September to down SEVEN MILLION liters of beer. A majority of the beer is produced by major local breweries, (that is Löwenbräu, Hofbräuhaus, Augusinterbräu, Hacker-Pschorr, Spaten and Paulander) but other brews can be found as well. But don’t think that Oktoberfest is the only time to enjoy the offerings. Munich is a city full of Biergartens, where patrons can come and enjoy one-liter steins with fellow drinkers in parks and small venues. Drinking beer is itself a daily habit, one that will inadvertently involve everyday activities from business deals to complimenting a quick lunch.
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