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Beer in Europe
Beer in Europe
While wine is the most popular alcohol in Southern Europe, beer is the national drink for much of Northern Europe. Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and the Czech Republic makes some of the finest brews in Europe and maybe the world. Visitors from many countries, especially those from East Asia or North America will find that European lagers have a richer stronger taste, and often a higher alcohol content than found at home.
In Europe as elsewhere, the most popular beers are lagers, also known as Pilsner after the Czech city of Pilsen that originated the style.
The United Kingdom, Ireland and partly the Belgian abbey breweries, on the other hand have strong brewing traditions in ale, which is brewed using quickly fermenting yeast giving it a sweet and fruity taste.
Wheat beers are very popular in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, and come in many varieties of their own. Traditional German hefeweizen is unfiltered and cloudy, while kristall is filtered and looks much like lager. Belgian witbiers like Hoegaarden are often gently flavored and popular in summer, sometimes with a slice of lemon on the side. And in a class of their own are spontaneously fermented lambics, which are very sour and not to everyone's taste!
Stout (porter) is a British and Irish speciality, with Guinness available around the continent. Made from roasted malts, stout is dark and strong in both taste and alcohol content, hence the name.
Most European nations have a national brand; like Carlsberg, Heineken or Stella, sold most everywhere - but the really good beers are often the smaller brands, which doesn't try to appeal to everyone. In recent years microbreweries have had a huge revival shooting up everywhere around the continent. If you really want to indulge, try one of the October fests, held in many German cities, the most famously Munich (where they start drinking already in late September!).
Another northern European favorite is cider, most commonly brewed from apples and sold both bottled and on tap in pubs. Taste and alcohol content can vary widely, from dense, cloudy and strong (8% or more) to light, weak (under 4%) and occasionally even artificially flavored.
The Most Frequently Asked Travel Questions about Europe
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Europe Travel Guide from Wikitravel. Many thanks to all Wikitravel contributors. Text is available under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0, images are available under various licenses, see each image for details.