Beer is the most popular and most versatile alcoholic beverage in the world. Millions enjoy a bottle or more daily. When the weather gets warm in the northern hemisphere, beer enthusiasts love to sit in a beer garden with a “stein” (a German-style earthenware mug) under the shade of an old tree and enjoy their beloved suds.
Summers in Germany happen to be short, and less than continuously sunny. When the sun shines, millions of Germans get out of their homes and head to a beer garden or pubs.
Beer gets “skunky”, actually light-struck, when exposed to sunlight, as do tannins it contains. The hoppier the beer, the greater is the risk – this is the reason why brewers bottle their beers in dark green, or brown bottles.
Sunlight (UV) affects beer adversely, actually causes it to be light-struck, or colloquially “skunky”. Tannins are sensitive to sunlight, and the more hoppy beers (i.e heavy ales like East India Ales etc.) turn “skunky” faster, or more profoundly.
There are a few breweries that risk “skunky” beers by bottling in clear-glass bottles.
Cans protect the beer from sunlight, but are susceptible to rapid temperature changes and oxidize the beer
For these reasons, German breweries, especially those in Bavaria, invented the “stein”. This earthenware vessel comes with a lid to protect the precious frothing, and cold libation. The thick earthenware keeps the beer cold for a long time.
If you happen to visit Munich (where approximately 500 million litres of beer are consumed annually) and the home of world-famous Oktoberfest, the best place is the garden of HB (Hofbrauhaus). There are other beer gardens – Seehaus, The Chinese Tower beer Garden are only a few.
Dublin, the capital of Ireland, is rightly famous for its pubs. Guinness Store House within the brewery. Dawson`s Lounge, Stag`s Head, and Sola are only a few pubs that offer convivial atmosphere and fine beers.
The Dutch love their beer and Amsterdam offers many opportunities to enjoy a glass or two of beer in a relaxing atmosphere. Try The Café Golem, of Café d Àrensnest.
Heineken and Grolsch, two famous Dutch beers, taste more appealing in Amsterdam than those available in export markets.
The inhabitants of Prague, the capital of the Czech republic, love their beers. The Czechs consume approximately 161 litres of beer per capita, annually. They love their beer.
U Fleku, Bredovsky, Dvur, and U Vejvodu, are just a few beer halls in this lovely city. While you are there, take a day trip to Pilsen, where the Pilsener-style beer originated.
Brussels, the centre of Belgium’s huge beer industry, offers panoply of opportunities to sample fine Belgian beers. Try Pupet Cellar at Poechen Ellekelder, Mort Subite, Delirium, Le Fallstaff and Le Cirio.
The residents of Edinbburgh take their beer seriously and drink copious amounts. They have been brewing for thousands of years. The Halfway House, Bow Bar, Canny Man’s and The Cumberland Br are only a few of the hundreds that I recommend. Most serve almost exclusively ales.
Milwaukee used to be America’s top beer producing city and home to once huge Schlitz, Pabst, Miller breweries.
Here you can enjoy beer in Roman’s Pub, or the Sugar Maple, or visit any of the breweries to sample their wares.
Portland in Oregon is the West Coast’s beer haven with more than 30 breweries.
Widmer Gasthaus, and Bridgeport, are only two establishments of many where you will be sitting among thousands of local beer enthusiasts.
Toronto, Canada’s most populous city and financial capital, has several breweries and all offer tours. If you like to enjoy truly fresh-brewed beer, go to the Mill Street Brewery in the Distillery District. You can also visit the Beer Market on The Esplanade or Beer Bistro on King Street East for excellent selection of beers.
Inhabitants of Melbourne, a lovely city in Victoria, Australia, love their slightly bitter beers. Visit Beer Deluxe, James Squire Brewhouse or Local tap house.
Tokyo is expensive, but beer is everywhere.
Japanese breweries Kirin, Asahi, and Sapporo are huge brewing organizations with worldwide exports, but local microbreweries offer unique and tasty beers. Popeye, Craftheads, Ushi-Tora and The Kura Kura Bar are only a few you can try.
Hanoi, the once famous Vietnamese city, was first exposed on a large scale during the Vietnam War through American soldiers. Today in Hanoi, you can drink the least expensive and high quality beers from Asia, like San Miguel, Biere Larue, Tiger 333 or Bia Saigon. There is no western-style pub or beer garden in Hanoi. You will to contend yourself to drinking in the hotel bar or restaurant.
Vienna, the capital of Austria, and once the capital of the immense Austro-Hungarian Empire, still has the tradition of beer gardens, and many breweries within its city limits, Ottakringer being one, Sieben Sterne, Gosser Bierklinik, and Bermuda Bar are some of the pubs. Brau Union brews Gosser, Zipfer, Schwechater, Puntigamer and Wiselburger, all of which are widely available in beer cellars
( bierkeller) or in restaurants.
Most pubs, at least in North America, offer food. Some feature elaborate menus.
If you have the urge to eat while drinking try to match lagers or light beers with poultry, dark lagers or ales, spicy dishes with Belgian or German weissbeer (wheat beer), chocolate desserts with stout or porter, sharp cheeses (Blue, Stilton, Roquefort) call for Chimay, Leffe Blonde, or Fin du Monde.
Curries go best with well-brewed English ales, spicy Mexican specialties with deeply flavoured lagers.