Beer Culture in the Eurozone

Featured Contributor – Beth @brewcitybiker1 from Milwaukee, WI

During a month-long solo backpacking tour across Europe, I discovered some of the best beers in the world. My route led me from Copenhagen south to the global city of Berlin and later to historic Munich. From there, I ventured into France, not known for its beer, but gleaning quite a bit from neighboring Belgium. I pushed south once more into the Mediterranean region and visited southern France and Barcelona before trekking to my final destination of Madrid. Each region brought its own beer to the table.

Beth enjoying beer
Beth enjoying beer

 

Copenhagen showed me that Carlsburg really isn’t that bad fresh and its little “craft” brand Jacobsen, marketed much like Leinenkugel’s, could bring variety to taps around town. The bartender at what he deemed the “oldest bar in Copenhagen” wrote down the name of a bar he said I might like when he heard that I enjoyed craft beer. Later, I looked at the slip of paper and read “Mikkeller.” I totally forgot Mikkeller is from Denmark. I immediately booked it out the door with a new friend from Ft. Collins and another from Italy who I met at the hostel. The night at Mikkeller is one of the best beer experiences I have ever had. Looking at the menu, I made mental notes and calculated out the remaining kroner in my pocket.

Jacobsen at oldest bar
Jacobsen at oldest bar

 

Mikkeller
Mikkeller

Through sampling and sharing sips (aren’t beer people great?), I tried an impressive 12 beers out of the 20 on tap. One of the beers that I did not sample was a 3 Floyds Arctic Panzer Wolf for 110 kroner, or about $16.50, for a pint! I met the bar manager later in the evening and he showed me their bottle list, or more accurately — bottle book. You could spend a month at this place and not try a single beer twice. Sadly I had to take a train away from Copenhagen the next day. My wallet thanked me as Scandinavia is rather expensive.

As a suggestion from my brother, I checked out Hops & Barley, a craft beer bar and brewery in Berlin. It was packed to the gills with foreigners including quite a few Americans and Australians. Let’s be serious the Australians were no surprise. They travel a lot and drink a lot. Do yourself a favor and do not challenge Australians to drinking games. You will lose. Thankfully, I met a guy from Oslo who was as obsessed with craft beer as myself and we chatted for hours while sampling some of the hoppiest beers in the city. The beer wasn’t all that special, but in a country where Reinheitsgebot rules, the beer was innovative.

When I arrived in Munich, I didn’t have anything on my agenda. My brother had few suggestions for the city seeing as he was around for Oktoberfest when he visited. The Oktoberfest museum was closed. Good thing I was meeting up with my German friend. We went to Hofbräuhaus, which is touristy yet fun with the live music and all. I thought it was pretty cool because we have a Hofbräuhaus back home in Milwaukee. My friend explained to me as we enjoyed hefeweizens and weisswurst that much of what the rest of the world has come to know as “German” is actually “Bavarian,” including Oktoberfest and Lederhosen. History pairs well with beer.

Munich
Munich

French beer was ok. I had one from Les Brasseurs de Gayant and another from Demory Paris. I gave up and settled for Belgian beers. I did a little side-by-side tasting of Rochefort 6, 8 and 10. The 10 was a bargain in France, about half price what it is in the states. I can’t wait to travel to the Benelux region on a bike tour. At least now I know that I will need a lot of time to bike and drink.

At first I thought Spanish beer was going to be the same situation as French…trust them with the wine. Then I found craft beer in Barcelona. There was Barcino Brewers, Edge Brewing, Barna Brew and Naparbier. By far the best local beer I had in Barcelona was AKER IPA by Naparbier. It was bottled only four days before I bought it. I don’t know if what I perceived was exaggerated because my taste buds missed hops, but it was bursting with flavor.

I also had some imported beer in Barcelona. On my way from the train station to my hostel, I decided to turn onto a street a few blocks before my destination. As destiny would have it, I walked past a craft beer bar called BierCaB. I bookmarked it on my phone. A few days later, I returned on a Friday night. It was packed at 5:30 pm. I thought it was because it was the weekend, but instead I stepped in to see a digital screen showing a tap takeover of To Øl, a Danish beer, on their 30 lines. The sole pint I intended to drink before arriving turned into four as I met people while huddled around the bar. The best beer I had was Long Time No See, a 12.8 percent Imperial Stout that was made by accident. I can’t tell the story better than the brewers so you can read it yourself. I bought a bottle the next day to put in my cellar. I also bought some of the best beers in the world the following day at the BierCaB shop right next to the bar. Not to make you too jealous, but I’ve got some Rio Reserva, Hel & Verdoemenis, Black Damnation I: Black Berry Albert, 2013 Abbaye de Saint Bon Chien and Trappist Westvleteren 12 hanging out in my cellar. Again, Barcelona beer shopping was one of the best beer experiences of my life aside from dropping $100 purchasing bottles.

Brew Dog in Barcelona
Brew Dog in Barcelona

Come with me on my next beer adventure by following Brew City Biker on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You can see all of the beers I tried during my trip on Untappd: https://untappd.com/user/brewcitybiker

Beth’s Bio:

From BREW CITY BIKER  ……….

“…. Biking is part of my daily life as well as a passion that I take with me on adventures. And craft beer has challenged me to learn. I am a homebrewer and aspiring beer judge. Thank goodness these two passions cancel each other out calorie wise!”

#craftbeer #beer #biking #brews 

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Beth Pickhard

Beth Pickhard

I have a passion for beer, bikes and travel and write about these things on my blog, Brew City Biker. My mission is to explore the world of craft beer by bike and involve newbies in these activities. I am a homebrewer and BJCP Certified Beer Judge.

Get in touch by sending an email to beth@brewcitybiker.com
Beth Pickhard

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One thought on “Beer Culture in the Eurozone”

  1. Craftbeer in Spain is still a “brewvolution”, but we can find a few breweries with high quality beers. I suggest you beers from La Quince Brewing (gipsy brewers), they brew from lager to Russian IS, Naparbier (Aker is one of my favourites, of course), Dougall’s (northern Spain), Guineu, Laugar, Caleya, Sevebrau…
    If you come back to Madrid, send me an email and I could recommend you some bars and brewpubs 🙂

    Cheers from Spain! 😉

     

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