Like coffee, beer has been through something of a global renaissance – just any old amber brew won’t do anymore. With this in mind, the luxury-travel experts over at Insight Guides have tracked down into the best beer-brewing countries from around the world. If you’re an ale aficionado, why not plan a global tasting tour?
Hop over the pond (no pun intended), and you’ll see that the recent craft beer revolution has changed the face of beer drinking in Britain. London’s pubs no longer exclusively serve up continental favorites such Amstel or Heineken, but rather a larger selection of craft beers, brewed in small batches and varying massively in strength and flavor.
Breweries such as Meantime and Kernel have made great strides in the market and the craft beer trend is spreading from the cities to rural areas. Changes to UK legislation mean that the country now has more breweries per person than any other country on earth.
It probably won’t surprise you to learn that only three countries on earth drink more beer per person than Germany. (In case you’re wondering, the three countries are Czech Republic, Austria and the Seychelles.) The Germans’ love of beer extends beyond merely drinking it — they brew some of the best in the world.
Unlike the Brits’ embrace of change, the Germans know what they like and have stuck with it for years. In fact, there’s a German law known as the Reinheitsgebot, which limits the amount of change that breweries can make to successful, tried-and-tested recipes. So it’s essentially impossible – and illegal – to brew bad beer.
It’s not an intuitive choice, but Japan’s beer game has gone from strength to strength lately. Not a traditional Japanese drink, beer was introduced to the Japanese by the Dutch back in the 17th century. It didn’t take long until the Japanese started trading exports for beer, which they did until 1869, when the first domestic brewery opened. In the mid ’90s, the government de-regulated the brewing industry and microbrewing and craft beer became popular. Twenty years on, and beer drinking in Japan has changed forever, similarly to the UK.
No surprises here. Belgium may only brew 1% of the world’s total beer, but they’re world renowned for the quality and variety of their brews. Although it’s a small country – roughly the same size as Maryland – Belgium brews a staggering 8,000 different beers, including the well-known Stella Artois, Hoegaarden and Duval. Bars in Belgium often have an overwhelming amount of choice: Delirium Café in Brussels stocks around 2,000 different labels. Be warned – Belgian beer is pretty potent, with up to 15% ABV.
World-famous for their agricultural proficiency, New Zealand’s entry into brewing was inevitable. The country’s hops lend its beer a distinct citrusy taste, much sought after and popular in global markets. However, most beer brewed in New Zealand is consumed in New Zealand, with residents each consuming an average of 75.5 liters of beer every year.