Love it or hate it, beer has provided Europe with many a talking point over the years and although not all beer drinkers are to be considered connoisseurs the advent of micro breweries and craft varieties is fast making the noble art of ale drinking much hipper than it used to be.
Wooden floor boards, old oak barrels and beards that you could hide a badger in are all emblematic of the resurgence of the good old fashioned ale house and no matter where you head to in Europe you’re bound to find a shaded corner from where to sup and slurp ’till your heart’s content.
However, knowing where to look is definitely the key to opening up a bounty of brilliant bitters and if you’re thinking of combining a drinking and gourmet tour of Europe with a passion for hops then check out the mini-guide below and let’s get this pub crawl started.
“Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder.” – Kinky Friedman
Aside from the German capital’s legendary Oktoberfest, Munich is awash with beer halls, kellers, gardens and Irish pubs and if you’re looking for a great alternative to the festival you’ll find numerous less busy venues from where to sit back and indulge. Hofbräukeller, München 72, Augustiner Keller and Kilians Irish bar are all excellent examples of unpretentious beer loving locations in Munich and if you’re looking for a flavoursome brew with body and soul then you know where to visit first.
No trip to the capital of Holland is complete without paying your respects to the one and only Heineken factory before heading out to explore the city’s secret selection of pubs, cafés and beer halls. Amsterdam provides the perfect setting for a more refined pub crawl and although it’s very tempting to sit and watch the world go by, there are so many venues to choose from that you just have to keep moving to fit them all in. Biercafé Gollem, Cafe Belgique, Brouwerij ‘t IJ (the windmill brewery) and In De Wildeman are all great venues to get you started and won’t let you down when it comes to cool characters and late night chats.
Underestimate the brilliance of Belgium at your peril as from independent breweries to some of Europe’s finest flavours, there’s no other country that packs quite as much punch as this small, yet perfectly formed, bastion of beer. Brussels, the capital, always stands out as being one of the best destinations for a European pub crawl and from authentic and traditional bars to accompanying moules and frites, discovering the culture of the city through its spider’s web of beer sellers is definitely an experience to truly savour. A la Becasse, Au Bon Vieux Temps, Le Corbeau and Estaminet Toone, are all well worth a visit whilst on tour and if you’ve got the stamina to undertake the cobbled streets by bike then you’ll certainly remember the ride no matter how much you drink.
Ah, good old Blighty! If ever there was a country that held beer in high regard then it’s England. From the beer gardens and countryside of the west to the dark and dingy boozers along the Thames, finding the right pub crawl circuit to suit you can often be a case of strolling out of your front door and seeing which way the wind is blowing. However, for the purposes of presenting an authentic beer lovers experience, head to Cambridge, to the northeast of London, and you certainly won’t be disappointed. The Cambridge Beer Festival, in particular, provides a quintessential glimpse at all that is ale and as the UK’s longest running CAMRA festival you’ll be hard pushed to find anywhere better come the middle of May. Alongside the tents and hog roasts, Cambridge is blessed with a cacophony of student and real ale drinking dens with The Mitre, The Queen’s Head, The Anchor and The Maypole, all providing more than a fair share of authentic taste and characterful conversation.
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