PHOTO: Beer brewed in the United Kingdom. (photos by Worldwide Scott)
There was a time in my life when I didn't drink that much beer at all. That period ended on my first trip to Europe though, because once I sipped the liquid gold flowing from the taps of Belgium, Germany, and the Czech Republic, I started appreciating beer a lot more than before.
While the aforementioned brewing nations are without a doubt the creme de la creme of European brewing, there are definitely some underrated beer countries out there too. If you find yourself thirsty in any of the following underrated countries in Europe, rest assured you are still in good brewing hands.
Ale is the star of the show in the U.K., and having a pint of the hand-pumped nectar in a cozy pub is a beer drinking experience hard to top anywhere in Europe. With more breweries per capita than any nation on Earth, the country is an absolute emporium of ale. Beer of this type served without pressurization and brewed using classic methods has been dubbed "real ale," and its rousing resurgence over the last few decades is a victory for all who like delicious beer brewed the traditional way.
This revolution has helped fuel interest in a brewing heritage that also helped bring us stouts, porters and India Pale Ales. Cider is a huge deal here as well, and while technically speaking it isn't beer, the orchards of Somerset produce varieties swooned over as intensely as the latest craft brews. Please make note I refrained from using the phrase "cure for what ales you" while writing this, and I hope that's worth something.
More thought of as member of the "I can't find that on a map" club than the "underrated beer countries of Europe" club, Lithuania is a proud and bountiful beer-producing nation. Home to a one-of-a-kind beer-brewing culture that was suppressed and nearly stamped out by the Soviets, this Baltic nation is back on the map and experiencing a beer-making renaissance.
Lithuania is the setting for some of the most unique beer sampling anywhere in the world, as the yeast used by many Lithuanian brewers has been found to be absolutely and entirely extraordinary. Lithuania's beer trail is based around the northern town of Birzai, and its rural outskirts are home to scores of breweries making rustic farmhouse ales full of malty, earthy and fruity flavors found nowhere else.
Bordering the brewing machine that is Germany, Austria definitely gets overlooked as a beer country, but maybe that's just because the Alps are blocking everybody's view? Vienna was once world famous for its amber lager, which actually ended up being the style Samuel Adams Boston Lager took inspiration from. In the regions bordering Germany, you will find many traditions like beer festivals and beer gardens that will blur the border between the two nations. Marzen is the ubiquitous style in Austria, a hoppy Helles-esque brew found on most taps throughout the country.
PHOTO: Beer brewed in The Netherlands.
Instead of being located next to just one brewing behemoth like Austria, The Netherlands gets to border two in Belgium and Germany, forever relegating it to the back of most beer drinkers' minds. Dismiss this nation at your own peril, as it is home to two Trappist breweries and an extremely proud brewing tradition.
In fact, one of the most scenic canals in Amsterdam is the Brouwersgraght, which got its name due to the sheer volume of breweries that used to line it. Around the corner, the bar t' Arendsnest is a testament to Dutch beer as it serves Dutch, and nothing but, and at last check they had over 170 beers available.
And in an interesting hybrid, the Jopen brewery in the town of Haarlem combines the flavors of both the current craft beer craze and traditional Dutch brewing.
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