A while back, we told the story of Go Ahead staffer Angus Beaton and his trip to Germany. We ran a photo of Angus living it up at Munich’s Hofbräuhaus, and we were pleasantly surprised to find so many beer enthusiasts among our travelers! So, we put together a list of our seven favorite breweries outside the United States. Whether you prefer light golden pilsners, pitch-black porters or something in between, these breweries and museums will deepen your appreciation of the sudsy stuff.
Sapporo Beer Museum: Tokyo’s venerable Sapporo Breweries celebrates its history at the only beer museum in Japan. Inside the museum, you’ll find a treasure trove of old Sapporo cans, bottles and advertisements, many of them predating World War II. If you like light, crisp lagers, try Sapporo’s Yebisu—they’ve been brewing it in Tokyo for the last 122 years. Don’t miss the Sapporo Beer Garden located in the south wing.
St. James’s Gate Brewery: The home of Guinness, Dublin’s St. James’s Gate Brewery was once the largest in the world. Arthur Guinness secured a 9,000-year lease on the four-acre plot in 1759, and the rest is brewing history. In its early days, Arthur Guinness once had to defend his brewery’s water supply with a pickaxe, but by the dawn of the 19th century, Guinness’ thick, creamy stout was being enjoyed throughout Europe and the British Empire. Arthur Guinness’ son, Arthur II, laid down a precise recipe in 1821, and not much has changed over the last 141 years. Enjoying a pint and the views of Dublin from the Guinness Storehouse’s Gravity Bar has become a rite of passage for first-time visitors to Dublin.
The Heineken Experience: Today, Heineken is brewed in 40 breweries located in 39 countries around the globe. But it all started in Amsterdam, and today, you can visit the Heineken Experience to see how this pale lager is made. Interactive exhibits put a fresh spin on the typical brewery tour (you can even enjoy a suds-eye view of the bottling process), and of course, you can sample Heineken in a sleek, modern bar.
Westvleteren Brewery: Beer aficionados speak of Belgium’s Trappist Abbey of St. Sixturs of Westvleteren in reverent tones. One of just seven officially licensed Trappist breweries in the world, Westvleteren eschews labels and sells their beer in unadorned brown bottles. The monks at Westvleteren produce only 60,000 cases of beer for sale each year, and customers face strict limits on how much they can buy. Still, the Westvleteren 12 is consistently ranked among the top beers on the planet by beer aficionados, and a visit is well worth the 90-minute drive from Brussels.
Carlsberg Brewery: Just outside central Copenhagen, you’ll find the original Carlsberg brewery. Walk through the landmark Elephant Gate to explore this 165-year-old facility that holds the world’s largest collection of beer bottles. Visitors can indulge their senses in the Aroma Room and among the bright copper kettles of the Jacobsen Brewhouse before enjoying a pint at the bar. After your visit, consider making the short walk to the nearby Frederiksberg Palace.
Stepan Razin Brewery: Russia’s distilleries tend to get more attention than its breweries, but visitors to St. Petersburg should drop by the Stepan Razin Brewery. Macro-brewing techniques arrived in Russia relatively late in the game, so the museum at the Stepan Razin Brewery focuses more on the country’s history of home-brewing. This facility produced beer and mead from Catherine the Great’s time through the Soviet era and right up to the present day. Enjoy browsing the museum’s vast collection of packaging materials used to store and transport “liquid bread” (as the Russians used to call beer) before enjoying samples.
Bier und Oktoberfest Museum: Munich’s Beer and Oktoberfest Museum is housed in a building dating back to 1327, so there’s no shortage of history here. Munich’s beloved beer halls and breweries are all on display, including Hacker-Pschorr, Löwenbräu, Spaten and Paulaner.
Of course, there are plenty of other beer museums out there, including some fine breweries here in the United States. What’s your favorite brewery? Tell us in the comments below or tweet us@goaheadtours!