The most famous Oktoberfest celebration in the world in Munich, Germany is held annually in September and October. If you can’t make it to the massive beer and food festival however, there are plenty of other beer destinations around the world where you can enjoy a cold brew. Book a flight or hop on a train to one of these world-renowned beer destinations to sate your palette.
When searching for international can’t-miss beer destinations, you can’t go wrong with Germany, even if you miss out on Oktoberfest. Arguably the largest beer mecca in the world, Germany is home to a jaw-dropping number of renowned breweries. The quaint town of Bamberg is particularly notable, where an assortment of breweries produce thousands of varieties of ale, all year long.
The town of Stuttgart, home to the Stuttgart Folk Festival, is a popular spot among beer aficionados. In the same vein as Oktoberfest, the Stuttgart Folk Festival features seven massive tents in which visitors can sample an extensive array of beers. Alternatively, if you’re also a connoisseur of fine wines, don’t forget to swing by the festival’s wine tents, where you can sample quality wines from across the globe.
In addition to being known for its world-renowned cuisine, Italy is home to Biffificio Italiano, one of Europe’s most popular brewing companies. The company’s brewery, which is located outside of Milan, uses fresh ingredients to produce a tasty assortment of fruit-flavoured ales and pale lagers. Also of interest to Italy-bound travellers is the Casa Baladin hotel and restaurant, where proprietor Teo Musso brews sought-after ales from such unique ingredients as myrrh and ginger. If you haven’t sampled one of this brewmaster’s creations, you have no idea what you’re missing.
The destination of choice for beer purists, Belgium is home to two of the world’s most popular brewmasters. Jeanne-Pierre Van Roy has become a household name among beer lovers for his tasty wild yeast beers, as well as his beer-wine hybrid creations. Equally as well-known and accomplished, Dany Prignon has delighted drinkers for years by using such unorthodox ingredients as mushrooms, mustard seeds and dandelions when concocting his brews.
Beer lovers interested in going on an East Asian excursion should consider a jaunt to Japan. The Kikuchi Brewery in Ibaraki is renowned for its delicious Hitachino Nest Red Ale, which features red rice as one of its primary ingredients. Additionally, to maximize the taste, the rice is kept in specially-made oak barrels typically used to store sake. If you’re in the mood for something a bit less experimental, try some of the Karuizawa-based Yo-Ho Brewing Company’s famous American and British-style ales.
If you want to see the history of beer brewing in the US, your US beer holiday has to include a stop in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, once home to Schiltz, Pabst, and Blatz, and still home to Miller. The largest city in Wisconsin and home to many descendants of German immigrants, Milwaukee became a prime location for the beer industry in the mid-19th century, partly because of its location along Lake Michigan, which was optimal for both shipping and cooling purposes. Take a tour of the Miller Brewing Company and spend an evening drinking Miller at the Lakefront Brewery.
Lest you think the Midwest has a monopoly on brewery destinations in the States, you’ll be pleased to learn sunny California boasts its fair share of hot spots for beer lovers. First off, for brew enthusiasts with an appreciation for aged spirits, there’s San Diego-based Ballast Point that’s renowned for its unique barrel-aging techniques.
If you’re feeling experimental, though, pay a visit to the Port Brewing Company in San Marcos and enjoy beers made with unusual yeast strains. Lastly, travellers with a seasoned taste for beer should head over to Escondido-based Stone Brewing Co., which is known for producing beers that feature above-average alcohol content.
Beer lovers who plan on visiting America’s neighbour to the north can’t go home without visiting Toronto’s Craft Brewery. Known for its delectable assortment of flavoured beers, the Craft Brewery’s creations are available in such varieties as pumpkin, green tea, orange peel and red leaf. Anyone who appreciates variety in their beer would be hard-pressed to pass up a visit to this internationally-known brewery.
Peter Williams is a contributing writer who has written for a variety of food and drink publications. An amateur beer connoisseur as well, Peter Williams lives in York with his family, where he often pays visits to the historic York Brewery.