Be it Belgian saisons, German dunkel beers or Czech pilsners, Europe has the richest brewing history in the world and with craft beer now a global phenomenon, there’s never been a better time to visit. Here’s eight of the best destinations in Europe to grab a pint.
The Danish capital may be well known for Carlsberg, but if it did craft beer, it would probably be the best craft beer in the world. The good news is, it does, and it’s certainly a contender. Beer lovers are spoiled for choice here with micro-breweries and tap houses all over the city. You’ll see the name Mikkeller on shops, restaurants and bars, and the brewery, which now has two branches Srateside, is somewhat considered royalty in Copenhagen. To try it for yourself head down to Warpigs, which the brewery has opened in collaboration with American company Floyd 3. It’s located in the trendy meat-packing district and boasts 22 taps. Many beers are brewed on site but there’s a great selection of guests and they also serve amazing Texas BBQ cooked in an open kitchen. For another Danish favourite head northwest of the centre by water taxi to Broaden and Build. The brewery and tap house is located on an industrial estate but if you’re going at night you’ll spot it by the burning fire pits outside. It’s a huge space from which you can admire the two storey brewing setup – while snacking on some fermented fries.
The whole craft beer scene is synonymous with micro-breweries, independent bottleshops, and one-off tap houses, so you might be shocked that the next pick is a chain with 17 bars. But unlike your average sticky-carpeted mega-brewery operation, it’s more a case of Les Berthom being the original and best. These guys didn’t jump on any bandwagon either – they’ve been the purveyors of great beer since they launched their first bar in Nancy in 1994. Their latest opened in Paris in 2018 and is well worth a visit. For something smaller, head to La Brasserie de l’Etre where you can sample this microbrewery’s offerings while admiring the largest artificial lake in Paris, the Bassin de la Villette. It opened in 2016 and uses local malts in its environmentally friendly brewing methods.
The likes of Krakow and Warsaw tend to grab the limelight when it comes to Poland’s brewing scene, helped in part by the thankfully dwindling heyday of the cities being stag-do destinations. But Gdansk is going from strength to strength and that goes for the beer too. If paying this historic city a visit you will walk down Dluga Street – it’s the city’s main drag. It starts with a historic gate and winds past colourful shops – all painstakingly rebuilt after being obliterated in WW2. The cobbles then broaden out to the width of a town square before leading down the city’s iconic river. But you wouldn’t be blamed for having missed something very special. Hidden away down some innocuous looking steps is an absolute gem for beer lovers. Piwnica Rajców has automated beer machines where people can dispense the brew of their choice at the touch of a button. For those wanting the human touch the underground bar offers very generous flights to allow revellers to taste their entire range, with brew kettles lining one side of the room. If you want an above ground venue head to Browar PG4. It’s housed in a stunning old brick building and offers beers from across the world, as well as a selection from their own micro brewery. For those feeling adventurous it also offers some interesting beer cocktails. After that lot it’s advisable to eat, and luckily it’s also a 300-seater restaurant serving excellent, traditional polish food.
Hopfenreich is a 22 tap in the hipster neighbourhood of Kreuzberg and claims to be the city’s first official craft beer pub. Surprising then that it only opened its doors in 2014. But even though Berlin is fast catching up with the craft beer boom, Hopfenreich remains a firm favourite. Making its home in an old Ecke Kneipe, or corner pub, on the junction of Wrangelstrasse and Sorauer Strasse, it has 14 taps which are built into old machinery and pipe work offering beers from around the world.
For something a little more homely feeling check out Hops & Barley in Friedrichshain, a micro-brewery located in a small former butcher’s shop. They like to combine modern ingredients with traditional brewing styles and both their beers and ciders are unfiltered. For those who want to do more than drink they offer brewery tours and brewing courses. Perhaps paying homage to the premises former use, there are cold cuts, and local bockwurst on offer, but punters are also welcome to take in their own food.
People have long been flocking to the dutch capital to consume plant-based products, and we ain’t talking about hops. But if it is liquid refreshment you’re looking for, there’s plenty on offer outside of cafe culture.
Brouwerij Troost has three bars in Amsterdam, the first popping up in De Pijip in 2013 in an old monastery and now produces small batches. The Brewery, come bar, come bottleshop in Westergas brews some 700,000 litres, making it Holland’s biggest independent brewery. It also has a stage on the roof where there’s live jazz every Sunday. Brouwerij Troost Oud West is the newest and smallest of the trio, only opening its doors in 2018. If you fancy breaking into the brewing market yourself but don’t have the gear, Brouwerij Troost also offers contract brewing where you can use their kettles. If they like it, it could end up on one of the taps.
Also worth a look is the super edgy Butcher’s Tears, a small microbrewery set up in an industrial space in Amsterdam-Zuid. The tasting room is in the next door unit, and is so minimalist it doesn’t even have a name, just going by Proeflokaal, (tasting room). It also plays hosts to live music and music nights, as well as events. The latest was, Noiserr – where people listen to weird sounds and music, readings about them, and then discuss them. See, edgy.
Famed for its monastic, high-alcohol brews, the Belgian capital marries the traditional with the contemporary very well. A brand known across the globe for it’s strength and pink elephant logo, you can’t take a trip to Brussels that doesn’t include a stop at Delirium Café. The place holds the Guinness (very fitting) World Record for most beers available for tasting, with more than 2000 on offer. There’s everything you could hope for, including some more off-the-wall numbers containing ingredients such as chocolate, gingerbread and hot pepper. If you have Coleiac Disease you don’t have to miss out on the beery fun either – they stock gluten free ones too. Once you’ve decided what you’re drinking you can enjoy the decor, which is made up of beer memorabilia. If you ever make it out of Delirium, another stop for connoisseurs is Moeder Lambic. There’s the original bar in the Ixelles neighbourhood and now a bigger version in the town centre called Moeder Lambic Fontainas. In both you’ll find hundreds of beers on offer, as well as knowledgeable staff that will be able to find something to suit any pallet.
The UK has long had a love affair with beer. The CAMRA-lead real ale renaissance of the 2000s made way for a whole generation of craft brewers. Scotland has played a big part educating the masses to the joy of hops – it’s the country that gave the world Brewdog and things are still going strong.
In Glasgow, the Drygate brewery has an impressive set up, with a brasserie in the heart of its production, serving modern Scottish food paired with beers from 26 taps and a sizeable bottle collection. There’s also a beer hall where sports and other events are shown on big screens and a terrace in the Summer.
If the weather is good it’s worth taking a stroll down the River Kelvin in the city’s West End. Inn Deep is located right on the banks of the river, in the arches of the former Kelvinside Station (you can still see where the platform and tracks were). The location makes it somewhat of an oasis in the city, and dog walkers mingle with beer aficionados, students and groups of friends, giving it a chilled out relaxed atmosphere. As for the drinks, the owners’ motto is “craft beer, not crap beer” and that’s exactly what’s on offer both in bottle and on tap. There’s an American style menu, and a spicy hot wings challenge that sees participants having to sign a waiver before attempting it. Once night descends over the views of the Kelvin the place transforms into an intimate music and spoken word venue.
The warmer climes of Europe are more famed for their cold cervezas than craft beer, but Barcelona is bucking that trend. One place to cool off though is Kælderkold, or “cold cellar”. The fact it has a Danish names isn’t just a style point – it’s run by a team of Danes and always has a good selection of Scandinavian beers on offer, as well those from closer to home, even holding takeovers by local breweries. You’ll find it just off Las Ramblas and in the evenings it plays host to art exhibitions and DJ sets. Another bedrock of Barcelona’s beer scene is the Garage Beer Co, so named because it used to be one. But the cars are long gone and instead of ramps there’s a huge granite bar. As well as beer from their own original brewery – the vats of which you can see through a window at the rear of this massive space, they stock a good range from across Spain and beyond. While it opened as a brew pub, They’ve become so popular they’ve opened a separate beer factory in San Andreu which has it’s own dedicated tap room that opens for events.