Some people experience a new culture via food. Others visit historical landmarks. Some take tours, some hike, others shop their way through new countries.
But have you ever considered beer?
Practically every region has a smattering of microbrews; small breweries that produce beer with local ingredients, unique flavors and more, well, personality. While every country has its own version of “Bud Light” (Stella Artois in England, Kingfisher in India), tasting the local ales, lagers, pilsners and hefs will get you that much closer to a culture (and maybe some of the regulars at the local bar). Read on for 5 great microbreweries around the world.
“Do one thing really, really well.” Steam Whistle Pilsner lives by this motto, and has developed a devoted following of local Canadians. This independently-owned brewery sticks to the basics (their beer is brewed with just 4 ingredients: spring water, malted barley, hops and yeast) and also uses sustainable brewing practices. Since 2000, it has been the recipient of several awards, including a Green Toronto Award, a Golden Tap award, the Premium Pilsner at the Calgary Beer Fest and many more. Stop by the brewery for a tour and a taste.
One of the oldest microbreweries in California, Anchor Brewing Co has been sending delicious, yeasty smells wafting over San Francisco since 1896. They offer a variety of brews, including their seasonal Summer Beer and Christmas Ale, all of which are made using traditional, classic brewing techniques and equipment. Why is it called “Anchor Steam Beer”? No one really knows. Supposedly, “steam” became a nickname for beer brewed on the West Coast in the 1800’s, and the moniker has stuck around ever since. Stop by their brewery in the Potrero Hill neighborhood for free tours during weekdays.
Germans are serious beer drinkers, so when Paulaner Brewery calls itself the “leading wheat beer brand,” you know it’s a high quality product. The second oldest microbrewery on our list (it’s been around since 1634), Paulaner began in the Munich Monastery Neudeck ob der Au. Bavarian Monks needed something to get them through the month of Lent; beer they didn’t need was passed onto the town’s poor, who also discovered an appreciation for the brew. In 1806 the brewery passed into the hands of Xaver Zacherl who took steps to modernize and expand production…and the rest is history. Paulaner is known for the taste and quality if its wheat beer, and also for its innovation (it was the first brewery to create a non-alcoholic wheat beer).
Located next to a classic Dutch windwmill and right on the Ij river, this brewery has been serving up delicious and organic Beligian-style beers since 1985. Relaxed, unassuming and small, Brouwerij ‘t IJ (Brewery on the Ij) doesn’t do much, but it does it well. Less than 10 beer recipes are on offer, but connoisseurs agree that each one is interesting, flavorful and pure. Stop by for free tours on Friday, or just to visit the pub any day of the week.
According to the brewery’s website, the ram symbolizes pugnacity and bravery. What more would you expect from a brewery that’s been providing alcohol to the British since 1533? The beer began in the 1500’s as a product of the respected Wandsworth Inn, then owned by a man named Humphrey Langridge who brewed for not just the inn’s residents, but local pubs and private houses in the area as well. The brewery that developed into today’s Youngs Ram Brewery (now including a brewhouse, pubs and brands) has maintained the symbol of the ram and its plucky connotations.
Have a favorite microbrewery we left out? Leave a comment and let us know!