Brewing and consuming beer has a long history in Europe. In fact, beer is being produced in every European country and the beer traditions in other parts of the world, for example in the USA, go back to immigrants from Europe bringing the craft with them. When visiting Europe, travelers will encounter countless varieties of beers that differ in color, taste and manufacturing processes. In many places, making beer is so deeply rooted in a country’s heritage that festivals and events are held to celebrate it. The most famous of those events undoubtedly is the Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, but there are also many other options available to attend a beer-themed happening anywhere in Europe.
Notably, beer making doesn’t even originally come from Europe. Early traces of brewing have been found in China as well as in ancient Egypt and in Israel. However, it can be said that Europe was the place where beer making and consuming was so widespread that it became a staple in everyday culture. There are roughly 10,000 breweries in Europe with Germany, Great Britain and Poland having the most of those facilities. Across the EU, more than 400 million hectoliters of beer are being produced annually and while a sizable chunk of that is being exported, it is also a common and often consumed beverage in all European countries.
England is well known for its ale, a beer variety that’s marked by natural carbonation and by a continued fermentation process in the bottle or casket it is delivered in. The country is also famous for its pubs, where often a large selection of beers is served. Spending an evening at a pub is an authentic tourist experience. To get a thorough impression of the English beer tradition, a visit to Burton upon Trent is advisable. This mid-sized town in Staffordshire is home to eight breweries and to the National Brewery Center, a museum dedicated to the history of beermaking.
Dutch beer and one brand in particular enjoys great popularity around the world. There are several large breweries in the country, where the beermaking tradition goes back to the Middle Ages, but also a lot of microbreweries have been established in recent years. For beer fans visiting Holland, stopping by at the Heineken Experience in Amsterdam is a must-do. A tour thorugh the historic facility offers intersting insights into the brewing process.
Beer and the traditions of brewing have a fixed place in Belgian culture and history. Several small and medium-sized breweries produce a wide variety of beers and the Belgians enjoy experimenting with tastes and brewing methods. Beer is being served in bars as well as in establishments labeled as cafés and there are a number of dedicated beer stores in the cities that offer great selections of local beers. The country’s most famous brand, Stella Artois, has its home base in Leuven and offers guided tours through its state-of-the-art facilities.
No people in the world drinks more beer per capita than the Czechs. That preference can be traced back to the year 993, the year a brewing operation in a Czech monastery was first mentioned. The world’s most popular beer variety, Pilsner, comes from the town of Plzen in Bohemia, while the town of Ceské Budejovice, also in Bohemia, is the original home of Budweiser beer. The Budweiser facility offers guided tours and tasting tours. Beer lovers should time a visit to Prague for the month of May, when the city hosts the annual Czech Beer Festival.
The long history of Germany’s relations to beer is well documented. There are some 1,300 breweries in the country and many of them export to other countries, making German beer available almost everywhere in the world. Brewers proudly refer to the famous German purity law that set the rules on what ingredients were allowed in beer in the year 1516. There are breweries in all parts of the country, many of which produce localized varieties. However, Bavaria is a hotspot, not only because of the annual Oktoberfest celebrations being held there. Bavaria is also home to the Benedictine Weihenstephan Abbey in Freising, the oldest still operating brewing facility in the world, established in the year 725.