The Best Microbrews Around the World

Food Lovers — By Alexi Ueltzen on July 28, 2009 at 1:57 pm

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.

1. Steam Whistle in Toronto, Canada.

“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.

2. Anchor Brewing Company in San Francisco, California

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.

3. Paulaner Brewery in Munich, Germany

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).

4. Brouwerij ‘t IJ in Amsterdam, the Netherlands

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.

5. Youngs Ram Brewery in London, England

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!

Youngs Ram photo by Ewan-M/Creative Commons, Anchor Brewing Company photo by Anchor Brewing Company, Brouwerij ‘t IJ photo by Brouwerij ‘t IJ

Tags: Amsterdam, beer, London, microbrewery, munich, San Francisco, toronto


  • Tyler Renaghan says:

    This post is fantastic! The tour at Anchor Steam is wonderful. Can’t wait to check out/taste these other brews.

  • Graham Master Flash says:

    If you’re ever in Raleigh, North Carolina the Big Boss Brewery makes some of the best beer around. (and by best I of course mean ridiculously strong) I believe every 2nd Saturday they do tours, but the reason it gets a million gold stars is Horniblows, the official Big Boss “tasting floor”, a delightfully trashy bar which is conveniently attached to the brewery. One of the best bars in town and you get the beer fresh from next door. Tip it up!

  • Amy Widdowson says:

    I also love this post. My personal vote is for Big Rock Brewery ( in Alberta, maker of the delectable Grasshopper wheat ale. This is the go-to beer in Calgary, and absolutely nothing is better than a pint with lemon on a hot prairie day.

  • Haley Cochrane says:

    I love steam whistle! yay! great choice!

  • Victoria says:

    Goose Island in Chicago, people. I miss ‘312’ so much it hurts… perfect summer wheat beer. I grab one IN the airport whenever I land in Chicago!

  • Shane says:

    Stone Brewery in San Diego County is definitely one consider. They are challenging the traditional brewing techniques, with some strong smokey brews. Stone is leading the micro-brewery renaissance that is occurring here in San Diego.

  • Julie Trevelyan says:

    The Steamworks Brewing Company in Durango, CO, will always hold a special place in my heart, along with their Steam Engine Lager (award-winning & goes down nicely). Peanut shells on the floor (that you toss there yourself), live music and wild dancing on the weekends, and pretty decent food. Also totally family friendly, they open at something like 11am. Good place, good beer, and a great town to visit too.


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