Copenhagen (credit: Randy Yagi)
When visitors think of places to visit in Europe, many familiar attractions like the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben and the Colosseum often come to mind. But for beer lovers, a trip to this diverse continent across ‘the pond” means savoring some of the world’s most famous beers and touring some of the world’s oldest breweries. But with more than 6,500 breweries across dozens of countries, what are some of the can’t miss breweries in Europe? The following are just seven of the very best to stop by for a beer or two, including some of the most famous brands in the world.
St. James Gate
Dublin 8, Ireland
+353 1 408 4800
Once the largest brewery in the world, Guinness Storehouse is the most popular visitor attraction in Dublin and in all of Ireland. First opened in 2000, Guinness Storehouse is located within a historic structure built in 1904 to serve as a fermentation house, which is the final stage of the brewing process before yeast is added to a mixture of barley, hops and water to ferment. Today, the 125-foot-high structure features a number of visitor attractions across seven levels, including a chronological history of the brewery, two restaurants and three bars to serve a variety of Guinness selections including the famous “black stuff,” an Irish dry stout that’s actually not black but more a dark ruby red. In order to get the full Guinness Experience, visitors must watch the expert multi-step process of pouring the perfect pint of Guinness beer at a 45-degree angle over a precise duration of 119.5 seconds and served at a temperature of exactly 42.8 degrees.
Stadhouderskade 78, 1072 AE
+31 20 523 9222
Voted the best tourist attraction in Amsterdam, the Heineken Experience allows visitors to tour the original brewery of one of the most familiar beer brands in the world. Founded in 1873, the historic brewery is best known for its premium pilsener beer and its signature green bottle and red star on the iconic label. The original Heineken brewery with its gorgeously restored copper vats and the accompanying visitor center is open to the public 365 days a year and an affordable self-guided tour lasts 90 minutes. Visitors also have the option to download the Heineken Experience App or rent an audio device at the welcome center. Located just minutes from the Van Gogh Museum, the Heineken Experience is easily accessible by public transportation from the Amsterdam Centraal Train Station on tram routes 16 or 24 or from the Leidseplein on routes 7 or 10.
81829 Munich, Germany
+49 (0) 89 92105 0
Beer lovers visiting Munch often insist on stopping by Hofbräuhaus München before anything else. While a visit to this 16th-century beer hall to sample excellent Bavarian beer is a given, a tour of the brewery is also a must-see. Low cost guided tours, which include a chance to sample unfiltered beer, are held Monday through Thursday by appointment only. Tours typically last between 60 and 90 minutes and a registration at least 14 days in advance is recommended. Hofbräuhaus München is just a few minutes from the world-famous Marienplatz, in the heart of central Munich. Not surprisingly, tours of the historic brewery founded in 1589 are not offered during Oktoberfest.
U Prazdroje 7, 304 97
Pilsen, Czech Republic
+420 377 062 888
Just the name of the brewery itself should speak volumes for beer lovers, as Pilsner Urquell Brewery is the producer of the world’s first blonde lager. More commonly known simply as pils, pilsner or pilsener, this style of beer arguably the world’s most popular and its production represents a vast majority of all the beer served. Described as one of the world’s best-rated attractions, the Pilsner Brewery Tour is 100 minutes in length and allows visitors to learn about the history of the landmark brewery that began its production in 1842 and on its original site. Pilsner Urquell Brewery also offers a tour of historic pathways under the city of Pilsen and a brewery museum tour, said to be the only one of its kind. The fourth largest city in the Czech Republic, Pilsen is located 60 miles southwest of Prague.
17 Court Street, Faversham, Kent ME13 7AX
The brand certainly isn’t a household name and is far from being the best-known beer distributor. But with a history that stretches way back to 1698, Shepherd Naeme is the oldest brewer in Great Britain. Located 55 miles southeast of London in Faversham, Kent, the brewery actually has provided evidence that beer was produced at this historic location as early as 1573. Shepherd Naeme offers an award-winning brewery tour, where visitors can go behind the scenes to learn about its lengthy history of beer making and how its exceptional Kentish ales and specialty lagers are produced. Daytime tours last up to 2.5 hours and evening tours, which includes a two-course dinner, are also available. Travelers who are interested in venturing out to the coast will also be treated with visiting Canterbury, featuring the oldest cathedral in England and Dover, world famous for its iconic white cliffs, facing the Strait of Dover and Continental Europe.
Stella Artois Brewery
3000 Leuven, Belgium
016 27 79 80
Originally brewed as a Christmas beer in 1366, Stella Artois is often referred to as the “pride of Belgium.” Clearly it’s a must-see attraction for beer aficionados on a tour of the great European breweries. Of the three breweries hosted by the creator of country’s most celebrated Belgian lager, the recommended site to visit is in Leuven, 18 miles east of the capital city of Brussels. Tour reservations may be made online and the length of the very informative tour is approximately 90 minutes. During the tour, visitors can expect to view the “Belgian Pouring Ritual,” a nine-step process that ensures that the finely crafted beers are served between 36 and 38 degrees.
Gamle Carlsberg Vej 11, 1799
Copenhagen V, Denmark
+45 33 27 10 20
By far the most famous beer maker in Denmark, Carlsberg is known around the world, primarily for its German-style pilsener beers. Located in the Vesterbro district, the original brewery is no longer operational but is part of a tour that’s open to the public. Visitors can purchase a general admission ticket with an option to taste three different beers or take a guided tour for an additional fee, also with an option for beer tasting. In addition to seeing the original Carlsberg, visitors can also see the working Jacobsen brewery, horses and the stables, several exhibitions on the history of the company and a retail store for merchandise. Carlsberg can easily be reached from the city center by a free shuttle bus which departs from the Royal Hotel near the Central Train Station.