Picking European craft beers is a bit like picking daisies. Sure, you love the ones you picked and - to you - they're very special. But everybody's got their favorites and (if we're being really really honest) the truth is that they're all very good, because beer is great. Following that rationale, if we all pick one up, we all have a beer in our hands, and that's a good thing. Right? We lost our train of thought... The point is you wanna know about some beers you might be able to get your hands on while you're traveling through Europe, right? That's why you're here. Alright, let's get to it then.
We're kicking it off with the old ones, the ancient ones, the stuff of legends, but we also want to talk about what's happening now, so we'll try to cover that too.
This is the oldest Altbier brewery in the world. It started back in 1266. There are two different theories as to where the Altbier name comes from: some say it means "old beer" while others claim alt stems from the latin word "altus" which means "high". Both are plausible explanations since it is top fermented (which could explain why high got in there) and it is a very old German style of making beer. Either way, we call it Altbier, and these guys have been making it for ages.
They've been around since 1328, minus a small interruption when they went through secularization. They offer seven different types of beer ranging from light to dark all year round, but their Oktoberfestbier is exclusively offered at Munich's Oktoberfest.
They claim to have been around for a while, that they were first mentioned in the year 1405, (meaning they already existed by then) but we can't really say that we know it to be fact. In any case, they've been around long enough to earn their place among the ancient. This historic brewpub is known for its smoked beer. That's right, smoked beer.
"How does one smoke beer?" you ask, well it involves scorching malt grains in a beech wood fire before adding it to the mixture to form the wort. They offer unsmoked beer as well, but it still has a smokey flavor to it, since the smoking process happens close to where the unsmoked beer is brewed. So go there expecting smoked beer. They're in Bamberg, a town in Upper Franconia, Germany, which is known for its smoked beer, so chances are that, if you're there, that's what you expected anyway.
THE NOT SO ANCIENT
This is the biggest and best-known brewery in Amsterdam, you can find their used-to-be-a-bathhouse-turned-brewery-turned-pub next to the biggest wooden windmill of the Netherlands (and, if that wasn't enough of a reference, you can find it on google maps too
They offer a wide variety of beers including all year round, seasonal, and limited edition.
Martin Matusk had been brewing beer since 1981 at Pilsner Urquell, but since he founded Pivovar Matuska in 2003 he's been doing his own thing. And it seems to be working out just fine. If you want to know where to find it, they have a list available at their site showing the pubs that offer their beers, you can check it out, but I might just save you some time by telling you the list consists mostly of pubs in Prague, so if you're there, you might wanna take up the opportunity to try them.
That's it for know. Though there surely are many breweries worth mentioning that weren't, because it's impossible to name every brewery worth mentioning, we hope you liked our list. If there's a brewery we didn't mention that you really really like and think that we should have, please let us know, we'd love to hear about it!
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