Explore the heady world of craft beer with our ale experts. We’ve selected great taprooms and bars in the finest breweries open to visitors across the world
The global craft beer phenomenon was arguably invented in the USA. In terms of variety, innovation and flavour, it’s still the leader of the pack
The USA is a continent-sized country, and, while you can find outstanding examples of every beer style just about everywhere, certain regions have their own specialties. In the northeast are the extremely fruity and often cloudy beers known as New England IPAs. In Oregon, a number of rich and intense Black IPAs have found a home. Perhaps due to the heat, Florida has developed a native sour fruit beer culture, while Southern California plays host to aggressively bitter brews. Yes, US beer culture is at an all-time high, but, if it seems to have peaked, just wait a while: thousands of new craft breweries are expected to open here in the next few years.
HOW TO ASK FOR A BEER IN THE LOCAL LANGUAGE? A beer, please
HOW TO SAY CHEERS? Cheers!
SIGNATURE BEER STYLE? Double IPA (among many others)
LOCAL BAR SNACK? The three Ps: peanuts, pretzels and potato chips
DO: Plan on adding 15 per cent or more to your bill: bartenders usually depend on tips to make a living.
Wicked Weed Brewing
A wall-sized portrait of Henry VIII surveys the scene at Wicked Weed Brewing, a convivial brewpub anchoring the South Slope Brewery District. Why Henry VIII? According to lore, the temperamental British monarch once called hops a ‘wicked and pernicious weed’ that ruined the taste of beer. The hoppy ales at Wicked Weed prove the king wrong – just ask the thirsty visitors fresh (or not so fresh) from hiking trails in the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains. On weekends, stag parties, girlfriends on getaways and youthful revellers imbibe elbow-to-elbow in the downstairs beer bar. Don’t leave without trying the flagship Pernicious IPA: a bold, West Coast-style IPA, which shows Henry VIII who’s boss.
The rustic farmhouse brewery lies on a working ranch in the beautiful Hill Country just outside of Austin, with cattle occasionally wandering through its sprawling grounds. Much of its production is fermented in barrels, and the brewery employs its own mix of yeast and local bacteria, sourcing its critters from a nearby cider press or by leaving unfermented wort outside overnight, which results in wild-tasting, often sour and highly charismatic beers, like the extremely refreshing Le Petit Prince Farmhouse Table Beer. Pints are served in the brewery’s barrel room and beer garden, with artisanal wood-fired pizzas and vegan cupcakes available at Stanley’s next door. Free tours are available on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Be sure to try the Atrial Rubicite, a barrel-aged raspberry sour ale.
Full-strength beer has been legal in Iceland for less than 30 years, but the country’s craft beer scene has accelerated at an impressive rate
In Iceland, March 1 is known nationally as Beer Day. Why? It was on that day in 1989 that full-strength beer was legalised again after Icelanders voted in a 1915 referendum to ban all alcohol. From a standing start, the craft beer scene has accelerated at an impressive rate. There are about a dozen breweries and, remarkably, they’re not all located in the capital, where much of Iceland’s population of 330,000 live. One of the first breweries, Ölvisholt Brugghús, was founded in southern Iceland; and perhaps the best-known brewery, Einstök, is on the north coast.
Tourists should be reassured that prices are not as high as might be feared: you’ll pay less than Rs 675 for a local brew if you take advantage of the happy hours offered by most Reykjavík bars. The city’s nightlife is strong, and, on Beer Day, the party lasts all night.
HOW TO ASK FOR A BEER IN THE LOCAL LANGUAGE? Bjór vinsamlegast
HOW TO SAY CHEERS? Skál!
SIGNATURE BEER STYLE? Pale ale
LOCAL BAR SNACK? Chips are popular, and expect to find pickled herring
DON’T: Copy the locals and pre-load with drinks before you go out; you’re here to taste, not get wasted.
Einstök Beer Company
Just a snowball-throw from the Arctic Circle, Einstök Beer Company brews its craft ales from some of the purest water on the planet. Filtered through prehistoric lava flows, this pristine H20 gives a crisp, clear base to everything from porter to bilberry-flavour witbier.
The impulsive, creative child of the Ölgerðin brewery – brewers of Iceland’s leading lagers, ciders and fizzy pop – the Borg microbrewery weaves its magic from Western European brewing know-how and pure Icelandic water. Visiting the brewery involves joining a dedicated beer tour, but any Icelandic bar worth its pickled herring carries a range of Borg bottles. Adventurous palates may care to sample the Fenrir Taðreyktur IPA Nr. 26, prepared with sheep-dung smoked malt, which conjures up some of the sensation of sitting inside a smoke-filled Viking longhouse. Or perhaps play it safe with the Surtur Imperial Stout.
EXCERPTS FROM: LONELY PLANET’S GLOBAL BEER TOUR