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7 Emerging beer destinations in Europe

7 Emerging beer destinations in Europe

Craft beer is undergoing a renaissance across Europe just now, and it's leading to an explosion of new microbreweries and beer drinking hotspots

Germany, Belgium, Ireland and Czech Republic are all renowned for producing stellar beers, and some of these regions even trace their brewing origins to monasteries and abbeys.

The resurgence in craft beer has resulted in over 10,000 microbreweries opening all across Europe—even beyond the countries that are ordinarily celebrated for their beer.

Croatia

Pint glass of red ale beerBrlog, a Croatian brewery that started on its founders' balcony, brews lots of red ales

Croatia overall has an abundance of great beers, both on the coast and inland.

There are seasonal brews partnered to help local charities at the innovative Pivovara Medvedgrad that’s nestled in Zagreb’s iconic Tkalčićeva Street.

There is also Brlog, the brainchild of two women—Ana Teskera and Maja Šepetavec—who brewed their first beers on the balcony of their rented apartment and today offer many excellent beers and red ales.

"Ana Teskera and Maja Šepetavec brewed their first beers on the balcony of their rented apartment"

Out east near Vinkovci, the annual Beeram festival that runs every summer serves its local craft IPA Valentinijan (Valens). It’s a nod to the Roman Emperor Valens who was an ardent beer lover. 

In Istria, the breweries along the shoreline offer more than just a tour—there are luxury resorts that have beer baths in their spas and actively intertwine their local brew with wellness.  

Greece

Glass bottle of Mythos beer in GreeceMythos may be Greece's most popular beer, but the country also brews excellent pilsners

Greece has sprawling acres of olive groves and vineyards, along with a strong passion for beer. Those that have flocked to both the mainland and its islands would have come across the most popular beer in the country—Mythos.

However, the country also produces lots of pilsners and red ales.

In the heart of the Aegean Sea, there’s Nissos, which takes pride in being among the best pilsners in the world. There’s also Elis, a brewery actively focused on increasing its green credentials by using solar power.

Portugal

While the wines from areas such as Douro Valley, the Algarve and Alentejo are well-known, Portugal has struck a fine balance between grain and grape with a fast-growing craft beer scene.

Residents in the south love their pilsners and many resorts like Pine Cliffs also brew their beer on-site for travellers who flock the area.

"At Musa brewery, founded by music lovers Nuno Melo and Bruno Carrilho, you’ll find the likes of a Mick Lager"

Breweries like Sovina near Porto serve a vintage amber farmhouse ale matured in port wine barrels as well as a spiced Christmas beer.

At Musa brewery, founded by beer and music lovers Nuno Melo and Bruno Carrilho, you’ll find the likes of a Mick Lager (a hoppy lager), a Red Zeppelin (red ale) or their stout, aptly called Twist and Stout.

United Kingdom

There has been a craft culture renaissance over the last two decades across the country.

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has played an active role in the preservation of traditional ale production since 1971. This support of the craft brewery industry has made the UK an overall popular destination for beer aficionados.

There are several award-winning breweries, such as The George Pub & Brewery in Tunbridge Wells, and an endless list of creative beers such as creamy milk stouts at the Bristol Beer Factory and a salted caramel affogato and ice cream ale at Siren Craft Brew in Wokingham

Even trendy breweries, like Vault City in Scotland, are producing some trendy sour beers aged in whisky casks.

There are also many organisations, such as the Queer Brewing Project, that are primarily set up to provide visibility for LGBTQ+ people within the beer industry.

Sweden

Sweden has witnessed an incredible craft brewery revival. At present, there are over 400 microbreweries, with the likes of coffee stouts and sour fruity beers carving a niche in the country.

Many are bringing forward intriguing infusions, such as the raspberry liquorice vanilla sorbet wheat beer at Brewski or the Noa bourbon pecan mud cake imperial stout at Omnipollo.

While there are several breweries that are actively working on their green credentials by reducing their carbon footprint, Qvänum Mat & Malt is one that also uses its leftover bread to craft beer which is unfiltered, unpasteurised and free of additives.

France

It is fascinating that, according to a Statista report published in 2021, France had the highest number of active beer breweries in Europe, followed by the United Kingdom and Germany.

Its northern region, with its close proximity to Belgium, has several breweries (some are nearly 100 years old) that range from the classic blonde beers to adding a local twist on a few ephemeral Lambic beers.

"In 2021, France had the highest number of active beer breweries in Europe"

Brasserie du Pays Flamands, that shares a deep connection and history with the Flanders and Artois regions, has won accolades for its Saison and ales.

There are also many notable family-run establishments, like Brasserie Artisanale des 2 Caps, that sell their farmhouse Bière de Garde.

Poland

Pint glass of weissbier with barleyPoland is known for its Bavarian-style beer halls that serve wheat beer

Many love Poland for their mainstream beers like Żywiec, Okocim and Tyskie, but the country also boasts an impressive array of craft beers.

Cities like Wroclaw have numerous Bavarian style beer halls and you’ll find many decent spots here that offer a Weissbier (wheat beer).

There are also popular breweries, such as Browar Pinta, that implement old brewing styles (Sahti) and have had successful experiments with ageing and selling some of their beers in sherry Oloroso casks.

For something beyond a brewery tour, there’s Brovarnia, a brewpub in the luxurious Hotel Gdansk where you can enjoy live music with your beer.

Other countries that are also creating outstanding craft beers are Norway, Romania, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Estonia.

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