Friday, October 17, 2008

Top 10 Cities for Beer Lovers

Munich’s famed frothy festival, Oktoberfest, may get all of the glory, but the world is full of destinations where the natives know – and love – their beer, and where you can sample some local brew all year long.

1. Amsterdam
Heineken, Grolsch, and Amstel are three of the best-known native brews, but a sampling of artisanal blends and witte (wheat) beers from neighboring Belgium are also on the menu at Amsterdam’s cozy “brown” bars, so called for their antiquated, nicotine-stained walls.

2. Berlin
Berlin boasts more then 20 beer gardens where you can enjoy this local favorite – along with hundreds of other frothy ales. Though the city is a haven for beer lovers all year round, August in particular stands out, when the first week of the month is devoted to Bierfestival, and the city center turns into a 1.2 mile-long beer garden.

3. Brugge
This tiny city is, amazingly enough, a prime place to sample over 450 unique varieties of Belgian brew, each served in its own specialized glass. You’ll find a preserved pub, Café Vlissinghe, that dates back to 1515, breweries that still use antiquated brewing techniques, and even museums.

4. Burlington
Home to the quirky micro-brewery Magic Hat, visitors can do as the locals do and sample homegrown brews such as #9, Fat Angel, and Blind Faith IPA to name a few. Church Street, a four-block pedestrian-only zone buzzes with vibrant bars with top-notch beer on tap.

5. Dublin
Dubliners and visitors alike can’t resist the smooth creamy flavor and dark body of Guinness, the city’s finest, home-brewed stout. The Guinness Storehouse, where visitors can watch the brewing process and learn to pour themselves the perfect pint.

6. Mexico City
Corona, the signature Mexican brew, is produced in Mexico City, at Grupo Modelo, the country’s largest brewing company. While brewpubs are rare in the capital, fun taverns, mariachi clubs, and bars abound where you can taste your share of local beers.

7. Montreal
Montreal, in particular, boasts several brewpubs, like Le Cheval Blanc, Dieu du Ciel, and Sergent Recruteur that serve up first-rate micro-brewed beer in flavors that typically change with the season. Rather than be classified as lager, ale, and the like, beer here is commonly differentiated by color – blonde, rousse (red), ambrée (amber), and noir (dark) – and are ordered as such at the bar.

8. Portland
With 28 breweries based here – more per capital than any other city in the country – this Pacific Northwest city clearly boasts the motherload of American microbrews. One of the city’s oldest and largest breweries, Widmer Brothers Brewing Company, produces over 200,000 barrels a year, including a top-selling German-style Hefeweizen.

9. Prague
The city is home to U Fleku, the world's oldest brewpub, and one of Europe's most famous beer halls. It’s also home to the original (and many would say better) Budweiser, known locally as Budvar. Traditionally, beer halls only poured one brand, but have recently begun pouring two or three, so you won’t have to pub crawl to sample Prague’s best suds.

10. Sapporo
The town of Sapporo, in northern Japan, is a name beer lovers are familiar with, thanks to the golden beverage that shares the town’s namesake and which usually appears in a silver tall-boy. Since Sapporo beer is the city’s most popular export, it makes sense that it has its own museum – the only one of its kind in Japan.

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