An art form throughout Europe, brewing’s tradition can be traced back to the trappist monks and continues to live in today’s breweries. Visit the oldest breweries in Europe for a stout experience, rich in history.
Many of Europe’s brewing traditions started in monasteries or abbeys, just like Smithwick’s Brewery in Kilkenny, Ireland. Visit the oldest operating brewery in Ireland and taste the rich red ale that John Smithwick made famous. Explore the new “Smithwick Experience,” an interactive tour of the facilities, including the old abbey. But don’t forget a pint of red ale at the end. Once you’ve had your fill, sail across the Celtic Sea to the southwest side of England to experience the Great Bath Feast, a festival all about indulgence of locally brewed beers and ciders, fine wines, and gourmet tasting menus.
Like Ireland, many of Belgium’s famous brews also owe their heritage to trappist monks brewing beer in their abbeys. Dotting the Belgian countryside, you can still visit many of these ageless breweries. Rent a bike and ride from abbey to abbey to taste hundreds of handcrafted ales. After cruising the countryside, stop at the Stella Artois Brewery to learn about this chalice-worthy libation. Plan your Belgium vacation around Belgian’s many beer and food festivals, including Belgian Beer Weekend, where you can taste more than 400 different beers, watch the brewery cart and beer wagon procession, and even cheers in front of the Grand’ Place in Brussels. For a Belgium beer experience at home, cook up Vlaamse Stoffvlees, a beef stew cooked in Rodenbach beer.
Germany is known for its beer gardens, and of course its timeless brewing. These beers are best enjoyed at the Hofbrauhaus in Munich. Instead of pints, this beer hall serves liters of the best beers in Germany. Take a picture with a huge mug of beer and a server in lederhosen to share your round with everyone. In the Netherlands, the Grolsch Brewery was founded in 1615. Today, the brewery is famous for its green bottle with a special seal. For another brewery with a famous green bottle and legendary contents, visit the Heineken Brewery.
For an even richer European brew experience, plan your trip around Europe’s numerous beer festivals and events. From the Beer Festival Ollesummer in Estonia (where a rock festival meets Oktoberfest) to the Taste of Helsinki in Finland, Europe is brewing up some of the world’s best beer events.
From red ales to beer gardens, the rich brewing history of Europe is worth a taste.