Beer, the nectar of the gods, is documented as far back as 4000 BC—and we’re enjoying it 6000 years later (high five).
The top ten beer-brewing countries vary by source, but whatever way you look at it, we visit the ones that make all the lists: the Czech Republic, Germany, the Netherlands, England, Italy, Ireland, Austria and Belgium.
Check out the best of the brews with this brief guide to your hoppy days of travel:
Most popular: Carlton Draught
Our favorite: Little Creatures Pale Ale
Cheers: “Cheers!” (with Australian accent)
Try it on: Highlights of Australia
- In the 1800s, drunkenness was such a serious problem in Australia that beer was encouraged as a safer and healthier alternative to hard liquor.
Most popular: Stiegl
Our favorite: Loncium India Pale Ale
Try it on: Highlights of Eastern Europe
- Stiegl was founded in 1492, the same year the Titanic sailed the ocean blu—wait whose notes are these??
- 1 of 10 authentic abbey breweries in the world, Schlägel Abbey, is the country’s oldest brewery.
Most popular: Juliper
Our favorite: Trappist Westvleteren 12 (XII)
Try it on: Grand Tour of Europe
- Belgium arguably has the greatest beer in the world. Almost every list that ranks countries by beer has Belgium at the top.
- 6 of the world’s 11 trappist breweries are in Belgium. The country with the next most is the Netherlands with 2.
Most popular: Pilsner Urquell
Our favorite: 13° U Fleků Dark Lager
Cheers: “Na zdravi!” (Naz-drah-vi)
Try it on: Berlin, Prague & Munich
- The Czech Republic is the #1 beer-drinking country in the world, out-drinking their competitors by over 40 liters per capita (The difference usually is only 1-3 liters between countries)
- The first pilsner in the world was born here, named after its hometown in Plzeň
Most popular: Carling & Foster’s
Our favorite: Late Knights Worm Catcher
Cheers: “Cheers!” (with a British accent)
Try it on: London & Scotland Escape
- Brewing in Britain began when the Romans arrived in 54 BC.
- England is known for its top fermented cask beer (also called real ale) which finishes maturing in the cellar of the pub rather than at the brewery, and is served with only natural carbonation.
- The UK now boasts the highest number of breweries in the world per capita.
Most popular: Oettinger
Our favorite: Weihenstephaner
Try it on: Oktoberfest in Germany
- 500 year-old “Purity Law” (Reinheitsgrebot) dictates brews may only contain water, hops, malt & alter yeast. The law was lifted only 3 decades ago.
- Oktoberfest actually starts at the end of September. It started in 1810, with Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig’s marriage to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. Say that 10 times fast.
Most popular: Peroni & Birra Moretti
Our favorite: Birra Moretti
Try it on: London & Scotland Escape
- Beer became popular in Italy as an ideal accompaniment to pizza (duh).
- In the 7th century BC in Sicilians and Phoenicians traded and consumed beer.
Most popular: Asahi Super Dry
Our favorite: Sapporo
Cheers: “Kanpai! (乾杯!)”
Try it on: Highlights of Japan & China
- Before drinking, it is always customary to give a toast.
- It’s rude to pour your own drink in Japan. Let your friend pour yours, then return the favor.
Most popular: Guinness
Our favorite: Guinness (no question here)
Cheers: “Sláinte!” (slawn-cha)
Try it on: Grand Tour of Ireland
- Beer in Ireland can be traced back 5,000 years.
- Legend has it that St. Patrick had his own brewer, a priest named Mescan.
- Irish monasteries dominated the manufacture and supply of ale for centuries, which is why there is the ruin of an abbey within the grounds of the Smithwick’s brewery in Kilkenny city.
- Rather delightfully, the monks would drink their beer during Lenten fasting, and gave it the name “liquid bread.”
Most popular: Pale lagers, like Heineken, Amstel and Grolsch
Our favorite: La Trappe Quadrupel (Oak Aged)
Cheers: “Proost!” (Prohst)
Try it on: Amsterdam, Paris & London
- 2 of 11 of the world’s Trappist (Roman Catholic monastery) breweries are here. So if you feel like your lagers lack a little monk, this is your place.
Most popular: Cusqueña
Our favorite: Pilsen Callao
Try it on: Peru & Machu Picchu Adventure
- In ancient Peru, only the most noble women were given the distinct honor of serving beer.
- “Spit beer” was a form of Peruvian brew that involved activating corn’s fermentation by chewing it up and spitting it back into the mix.
Most popular: Singha
Our favorite: Tawandang Lager
Cheers: “ชนแก้ว chon gâew”
Try it on: Thailand & the Islands
- A popular way to consume beer in Thailand is on the rocks, often with a straw.
These past 6,000 years just wouldn’t be the same without it. So, what are you waiting for? A world of beer is out there for the drinking.