By Jessica Russo
We hoppily admit it: trying local beer is one of our favorite parts of travel. Come on - when else will you be able to nibble on an authentic Bavarian pretzel with a brew or wash down some savory Irish sausage with a creamy stout?
Wherever your next destination may be, impress your bartender by ordering a beer native to the area.
Nestled in the western part of the country sits the beautiful city of Pilsen - that's right, it's not a coincidence that it sounds like Pilsner. Known for its Pilsner Urquell Brewery, Pilsen first started brewing the bottom-fermented beer that we now know as "pilsner" in 1842. While in the Czech Republic, order any of these popular brands: Pilsner Urquell, Gambrinus, Staropramen, or Velkopopovický Kozel.
Fun fact: The Czech Republic currently has the highest beer consumption per capita! That's a lot of pivo.
Germany is, hands-down, the premier beer country. Whether you're at Oktoberfest or relaxing at a biergarten, you'll find that Germany has tons of local beers to choose from. Be sure to try the classic pilsner and wheat beers, but also look out for Kolsch and Marzen. Kolsch is made in Cologne and resembles a lager, except it is fermented warm, like English ale. Marzen is a tasty, malty lager from Bavaria - you'll notice its dark color and rich caramel flavor. While in Germany, look out for these popular brands: Weinenstephan, Erdinger, Spaten, and Schneider Weisse. Let's be honest - any beer pairs perfectly with some brats or Bavarian pretzels!
Yes, yes, you guessed it: Guinness and Murphy's. The Irish love their stouts! But that's not all they love. The Emerald Isle actually boasts many different kinds of beer, including fruity golden wheat ales and cream ales. Step into a traditional pub, listen to some live folk music, and order any of these popular local brands: Murphy's, Guinness, Beamish, Harp, Kilkenny, or O'Hara's.
First thing's first - temperature. British beer, properly called "ale" isn't served warm, but also isn't served at an icy cold temperature that makes the sides of the glass sweat. This not-warm-but-not-cold temperature is said to capture the full flavor of the ale, much like with red wine! Second, British ale is not supposed to be nose-ticklingly-fizzy, either. Instead of pepping it up with carbon dioxide, British brewers let the natural bubbles and effervescence do the job. So, what do you order in a British pub? Try a bitter, a stout, or a hoppy IPA (India Pale Ale). If you're in the mood for a little more easy-drinkin', a golden ale will do the trick. Look for these on tap: Fuller's, Young's, or Carling. If we veer off the beer train for a second, the English also love their hard ciders! Look for Strongbow, Bulmers, or Magners for a splash of sweet.
The craft beer scene in Cape Town is taking off. Sure, many South Africans still drink a classic Castle, but a growing number of local breweries means a growing number of hip bars and beer halls. While visiting the Cape wineries is a must, visiting Cape Town's breweries and tap rooms is a close second. You might want to check out Jack Black Brewing Co. in Diep River or Newlands Brewery in Rondebosch! While Jack Black boasts a newer, cooler feel, Newlands is a Cape Town landmark that brews some of South Africa's most iconic beers, like Castle, Redd's, Lion, and Hamsa.
Did you know that Brazil is the third largest beer-producing country in the world? Bohemia, which was first brewed in Brazil in the 1880s, remains one of the country's most popular brands. When on vacation in Brazil, you'll see that pilsner and pale ales are most common. Whether you're relaxing in Rio or soaking up some sun in Salvador, order a Skol, Bohemia, Brahma, or Antarctica.
Believe it or not, many of Japan's beers are actually German-inspired! Throughout the country, you'll find lager-style beers, pilsners, and pale ales that boast nice, grainy aromas. Which local brands should you try? At almost any Japanese restaurant or bar, you'll find Sapporo, Asahi, Kirin, and Suntory. Kanpai! (Cheers!)
Belgian beer has a reputation of quality and tradition, and locals take their brews very seriously! Belgium is known for Witbier (wheat beers) and lambic-style beer. Lambics can range from pale yellow to deep red, depending on the added flavors. A local Belgian favorite is "Kriek" lambic, which is made with sour Morello cherries! At a Belgian bar, you'll find local brews like Trappist, Stella Artois, Chimay, Hoegaarden, Bush, and Westvleteren. Neighboring Netherlands is also a beer capital, known for its three famous brewing companies: Heineken (also brews Amstel), Grolsch, and Bavaria.