More than just hops and barley, beer is so good that entire festivals are devoted to it. It doesn’t matter if you’re a brew master looking to expand your encyclopedia-like knowledge or a neophyte who just wants to try something that isn’t served in red cup, here are 6 of the best spots for beer fans of all shapes and sizes to find their happy place.
We would be remiss if we didn’t start with the world’s most famous beer destination and quite frankly, no self-respecting beer lover would want to miss it. Oktoberfest, Munich’s annual beerstravaganza, is a 16 day festival that has been delighting bier fans since 1810. More than 6 million people flock to Munich to celebrate this often-replicated but never matched affair each year, not only for the suds but for the all-encompassing cultural experience that it is. Sample one of the countless brews on tap or try some traditional Bavarian dishes. If you need to work off some of the extra calories consumed, head over to the on-site amusement park or try your luck at some games. No matter what you do, you’re going to have a great time all while checking this amazing affair off of your beer bucket list.
Asheville, North Carolina
Nicknamed the Brewtopian Society, Asheville NC was awarded the prestigious title of Beer City USA during American Craft Beer Week in 2010 and hasn’t taken this honour lightly. The small city boasts more than 50 local beers on tap every day and should you want to take some home, you can get just about all of them in bottles too. Asheville also plays host to Beer Week, an annual celebration of all things brew-related that leads up to the Beer Festival which features live music and, of course, lots and lots of beer.
More than just a megacity, Toronto is home to an impressive number of craft brewers who produce absolutely phenomenal beers. Beer fans flock to Toronto to check out its specialty restaurants (barVolo, Bar Hop, and BeerBistro are all excellent) or sample the latest and greatest that local producers have to offer, right at the source. If you don’t know where to start, an organized tour is your best bet and the folks at the Ontario Craft Brewery Tours run great ones that appeal to beer fans of all shapes and sizes. After your tour, relax on a patio and try whatever’s on tap or hit up the LCBO for some hometown gems like Radical Road’s Wayward Son.
Amsterdam is known for its canals, bicycles, and beautiful achitecture but it should also be recognized as the beer-lovers paradise that it is. Craft brewers have set up shop all over the city and are producing new takes on old classics as well as conjuring up contemporary creations worth sampling. Want to get the true Amsterdam beer experience? Find a Bruine café, a cozy and congenial spot to gather with old friends or meet new ones, all while sipping on the finest ales that the country has to offer. Expect a pub-vibe with beer-savvy patrons, tasty snacks, and a gezelligheid atmosphere that just can’t be replicated anywhere else.
The people of Prague know good beer and aren’t afraid to show it. In fact, in 1892, an incensed group of citizens dumped out barrels of beer in response to its subpar quality. Pilsner Urquell, one of the country’s most recognized liquid exports (and the namesake of the intensely popular pilsner style), was developed in response to this hops-driven demonstration and the highest standards continue to be upheld to this day. The Czech Beer Festival is celebrating its 7th birthday this year and promises to be the best one yet. Live music, fabulous food, and over 70 brands of Czech beer guarantee 17 incredible days of total beer-fan bliss.
Once declared the “beer capital of the world”, Milwaukee doesn’t necessarily conjure up associations with high quality brews but you can’t argue that it possesses the beer chops to rank up there with the best. At one time, Milwaukee was home to major breweries like Pabst, Schlitz, Miller, and Blatz but it has recently stepped up its game by welcoming microbreweries into the fold. Nowadays, you can find over 25 local breweries, restaurants geared to beer, and multiple shops that sell big names and craft creations all under one roof. Sign up for a tour (Milwauke Brewery Tours is a great choice) or set out on your own – no matter what you do, you’re sure to discover that Wisconsin deserves to be praised for more than just its cheese.
Who is Kate Walker? She’s a freelance writer, yoga addict, and citizen of the concrete jungle. When not on the mat, Kate can be found at the dog park or on the dock in Muskoka. She is also pretty fond of running, skiing, and Settlers of Catan.