A Craft Beer Tour Around the World
Around the world sipping the best beers along the way.
As Frank Zappa once famously said: “You can’t be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline. It helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer.” These days, by the late American rocker’s measure, there are now more ‘real countries’ than ever before. And they’re not stopping at just one beer: from New Zealand through to the Netherlands, we’re witnessing the arrival of countless high-quality beers at bars, on the shelves of supermarkets and in bottle shops.
The first stop for any visitor to London should perhaps be The Rake (www.uto beer.co.uk) in Borough Market. One of London’s original craft beer bars, it’s been operating for more than 10 years. The Rake is owned by a beer-importation company, which means its international selection is excellent, but start with a drop from the acclaimed Hawkshead Brewery in the Lake District (www.hawksheadbrewery.co.uk).
In East London, The Cock Tavern (www.thecocktavern.co.uk) in Hackney is what tourists imagine a British boozer to be: small, dimly lit and full of locals. Perhaps less typical is its craft beer selection, which includes choices from Howling Hops (www.howlinghops.co.uk). This local microbrewery used to be housed in the basement below The Cock Tavern and, while it has moved to larger premises, much of its output is still consumed at the tavern.
Try the Smoked Porter for a rich and memorable experience. Another atmospheric pick is Ye Olde Mitre (www.yeoldemitreholborn.co.uk), down an alley off the Hatton Garden jewellery district. You’ll find numerous on-tap beers here, such as brews from Australia and New Zealand and much-lauded local drop Gales Seafarers, which is always crisp and quenching.
Buzzy, bohemian and bonkers all in one breath, Amsterdam is a city that is evolving constantly, yet always seems to retain its slightly seedy underbelly. Make your first destination the microbrewery-bar De Prael Proeflokaal (www.deprael.nl) and have a chat with co-founder Fer Kok over a beer. Kok worked in psychiatry and was a home brewer before founding De Prael with Arno Kooy. He has truly great beers in his barrels, including a 6.5 per cent IPA with a striking grapefruit nose.
While in town, be sure to visit one of Peter van der Arend’s four beer-focused ventures which, combined, serve more than 100 Dutch-brewed drops. Particularly fun is ’cause Beer Loves Food (www.causebeerlovesfood.nl), where you’ll discover chef Timothy Wareman whipping up exquisite dishes such as a pulled-pork sandwich with red onions caramelised in stout and horseradish beer sauce. And no trip to Amsterdam would be complete without heading to In de Wildeman (www.indewildeman.nl), based in a former distillery. It was one of the first specialty beer bars in Amsterdam and is still an icon, serving more than 250 varieties, including classics from nearby Poesiat & Kater brewery such as the historic Falcon Ale, which dates back to the 1850s and has notes of banana and pineapple.
Begin your Barcelona beer pilgrimage at El Vaso de Oro, a long, thin tapas bar
which serves the robust Cerveza Fort brews made locally with malt blends by Eduardo Martinez. You won’t find many tourists here, but you will find some of the freshest gambas (prawns) that you have ever eaten in your life — and when you wash them down with a cold craft beer, they’re even more delicious.
There are still more highlights to try: BierCaB (www.biercab.com) has cult Spanish brews that include the Pyramid, which is a characterful New England IPA by Soma Beer, as well as some excellent modern tapas. Keep an eye out for brewery tour dates at Edge Brewing (www.edgebrewing.com), which is run by two Americans and makes Hoptimista IPA, a citrusy drop that is dry-hopped in two stages.
A good first stop would be the Falling Rock Tap House (www.falling rocktaphouse.com), a traditional US bar with comfy stools, booths and a big patio. Denver’s spiritual home for all things beer, during the Great American Beer Festival it almost has a gravitational pull for beer folk. Of its draughts, Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale from Boulevard Brewing Co. in Kansas City (www.boulevard.com) is notable: it’s made in a tank the brewer labels ‘persnickety’
and has a complex fruity profile.
There are multiple other fabulous beer venues in town, such as Freshcraft (www.freshcraft.com), which serves up comfort food like meatloaf sandwiches alongside Colorado brews such as White Rascal — spiced with coriander and orange peel — by Avery Brewing Co. (www.averybrewing.com). Also check out Goed Zuur (www.goedzuur.com) for its stunning sour beers and exceptional charcuterie and cheese offerings.
Fork & Brewer (www.forkandbrewer.co.nz), is a compact brewery that offers up to 40 varieties at a time. The on-site bar is very welcoming — a light, airy space a few floors up, with a brew kit on display so you can see the whole process happening while you enjoy the finished product. Be sure to try the Bohemian Hipster Pilsner: it’s herbaceous, quenching and far more personable than its namesake. Also worth a visit is brewer Garage Project’s Taproom, 91 Aro (www.garageproject.co.nz), which draws fans from across the country with a menu of 18 distinctive brews, including the famed Bière de Garage, a superb tart cherry farmhouse ale.