World's Best Beer
Drinking a brewski on a folding chair in the summertime can feel like perfection. It's the quintessential American way to enjoy a beer. But we're not the only ones who enjoy a gulp of this hoppy beverage from time to time; hearty lagers and refreshing ales can be found in almost every nation. Drinking beer is one of the few pastimes that we can enjoy as a global community.
While the act of beer-drinking is relatively universal, the social significance of this beverage is widely varied. In some countries, it's simply a relaxing way to end the work day. But there are several places where tipping back a beer is a cultural must. We looked at cities around the world that have a rich brewing history and produce some of today's best brews. From the ancient world to the urban jungle, we point out the world's best places to drink beer.
Note: The prices listed below represent the national average for each destination and were taken from PintPrice.com.
[See a photo recap of the World's Best Beer]
Chances are that Egypt isn't the first country to come to a beer connoisseur's mind, but it should be on his or her checklist. Ancient Egyptians have left the oldest records of brewing practices (beer is even mentioned in The Book of the Dead, the ancient text made famous by the 1999 film, The Mummy); their records are so precise that some modern experts credit the country with the origin of beer. Historians visit to deepen their knowledge of and appreciation for the beverage. Others think that Egyptian brewers learned the trade from the peoples of Mesopotamia, an ancient region of the Middle East. And while the debate still rages on over the exact birthplace of beer, you can be sure that drinking it has been a part of Egyptian culture for many millennia. In ancient times it was even used as payment for workers in various lines of trade. In present day, no such labor is required to order and sip a Stella (not the Belgian brand, but the Egyptian one). And what better place to do so than in Giza, home of the great pyramids? The arid climate will make the liquid taste oh-so-refreshing.
Average Price of a Pint: 17.35 EGP or about $2.90 USD
Sorry Milwaukee and St. Louis, but Portland (with its more than 30 breweries) is the place to go for American beer: National Geographic declared it a decade ago, and Lonely Planet and others continue to agree. Opting for complex flavors and extraordinary variety, Oregon brewmasters have steered the country away from mass-produced brands and toward tasty local microbrews. Everyone in this town has their own personal favorite, but recently, Men's Journal anointed Hopworks Urban Brewery Organic Lager the best draft beer in the world. Head to a hangout on the east side of the Willamette River -- like Apex, Produce Row Café or Horse Brass Pub -- to experience the city's beer-loving spirit first-hand. Lisa Morrison, author of Craft Beers of the Pacific Northwest, recommends attending the famous Oregon Brewers Festival, but also the smaller Sasquatch Brew Am, both of which take place in July. "[The Sasquatch Brew Am is] a fundraiser for the Falconer Foundation, which is named for a local fallen brewer, Glen Falconer (nicknamed Sasquatch)," she explains. "It puts beer fans with some of the West Coast's most celebrated brewers … together in golf teams for a morning of crazy golf, beer, contests, beer, raffle prizes and beer."
Average Price of a Pint: Varies greatly depending on the bar and even time of day
The Irish -- out of any other nationality -- have perhaps the strongest cultural association with this malted beverage. And they’re proud of it: Just take a look at any St. Patrick's Day celebration. In other words, a true beer connoisseur must make a pilgrimage to Dublin. Arriving at the St. James's Gate Brewery, home of Guinness, is equivalent to reaching the Promised Land for some. Other trekkers, however, liken the Guinness Storehouse's kitschy atmosphere to Disneyland rather than a sacred brewery. These travelers find solace in the rowdy pubs of the Temple Bar District east of the brewery. Or you could split the difference and visit Ireland's oldest pub, The Brazen Head, founded in 1198 and located between the two sites.
Average Price of a Pint: €4.60 EUR or about $6.75 USD
Possessing a relaxed boozing culture and unbelievably cheap drink prices, the Czech Republic is a worldwide ambassador of ales. The small city of Ceske Budejovice may seem like an unlikely choice for the Czech Republic's drinking capital when compared to more notable Prague. But this small town represents an entire nation of passionate beer drinkers. A World Health Organization study on alcohol and health found that Czech adults had the second-highest rate of beer consumption in the world, behind only the small island nation of Palau in the South Pacific. Located south of Prague, Ceske Budejovice is home to the country's most famous beer, the original Budweiser Budvar (not to be confused with America's beloved Bud). You can savor the classic brew or a local tavern's homemade draft in this city's spectacular town square.
Average Price of a Pint: 20 CZK or about $1.20 USD
No ifs, ands or buts: Copenhagen is enchanting. And a quality beer will only heighten your appreciation. Home to the Carlsberg Brewery and some frigid weather, Copenhagen can deliver a "cold one" like few other cities can. Similar to the States, Denmark is experiencing a revival of craft brews from local manufacturers. Now, the capital hosts both large and small scale producers. If you're fortunate enough to be in town for the Copenhagen Beer Festival, you'll witness the savory products of the microbrewery trend. If not, you can still see the results at microbrewery-restaurant combinations like the Nørrebro Brewery. But the exorbitant price of beer might dissuade you from ordering more than one pint.
Average Price of a Pint: 41 DKK or about $8 USD
You knew this was coming. Home of Oktoberfest, Munich bests Bavarian contenders like Bamberg and serves as the beer-drinking Mecca of Germany. For several weeks every fall, millions flock to the city and hunker down under colorful tents at long tables to guzzle mugs of amber brew. And while this signature festival is on many beer-lovers' bucket lists, you'll have a more authentic Bavarian experience if you visit Munich in the summer instead. The city's beer gardens are the perfect setting to try a helles or a dunkel, two fun-sounding lagers brewed in the region. If you are having trouble picking a boozing locale, head to either Löewenbräeukeller or Augustinerkeller -- two institutions with both a beer hall and a summer garden that rarely disappoint.
Average Price of a Pint: €2.55 EUR or about $3.75 USD
When you think of beer gardens, your mind runs immediately to Germany. But Japan should be credited with perfecting the summertime urban iteration. Occupying rooftops throughout the city, these booze-serving oases provide Tokyo's businessmen and women with an after-work paradise. Appealing to both shopaholics -- and people whose name rhymes with schmalcoholics -- the Matsuzaka Ginza Tokyo has several floors of stores, topped by a rooftop that's prime real estate for relishing national brews like Sapporo and Asahi. However, you'll find the best vantage point at the Takaosan Beer Mount, a beer-drinking haven that overlooks Tokyo from the Meiji Memorial Forest Takao Quasi-National Park. Patrons enjoy the Beer Mount's two-hour all-you-can-eat-and-drink deal, a special that runs every afternoon and evening.
Average Price of a Pint: 480 JPY or about $6 USD
Picking just one beer-loving city in a small nation full of exceptional brew masters can be tough. Brussels and Bruges are certainly two standouts, but the winner must be a small city located east of both: Leuven. This town's stunning public squares and architecture go largely unseen by tourists, but still, it's the home to Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world's largest producer of beer. If you do decide to visit, you can tour the breweries of mega-brand Stella Artois and smaller Domus to get a taste of the local lager traditions. Afterward, park it at a humble pub or café around the main square and sample the many members of the Belgian beer family -- lambics, blanches and Trappists, to name a few. And if you feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of options, consider participating in one of the Leuven Tourism Board's beer-themed weekends.
Average Price of a Pint: €1.50 EUR or about $2 USD
In college, the "intellectual pint" is a powerful tool. And where best to find this theory-stirring tradition than in Oxford, England's oldest university town? Throughout this small city, the university faculty and students find hollowed alcoves for philosophical debate. The Turf Tavern, a favorite of famously drunken poet Dylan Thomas, is a great place to observe student culture. For literary kicks, you should stop in The Eagle and Child, the former haunt of writers J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. And the putative oldest public house in Oxford, the Bear Inn, has a warm, intimate atmosphere that both tourists and locals enjoy. But sadly, the U.K. is experiencing a decline in individually owned pubs. These businesses are now growing more uniform in their menu options, décor and beer selection. Ladies and gents, better get a taste of this beer culture while it lasts.
Average Price of a Pint: £2.85 GBP or about $4.70 USD
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