The Pursuit of Hoppiness
New Zealand’s favourite tradition – Crate Day – is celebrated on the first Saturday of summer (2nd December this year). The day is about welcoming summer and spending time with friends, but it’s also about enjoying the craftsmanship that goes into one of the world’s most cherished beverages.
From ancient beer cellars in the Czech Republic, to modern ‘hop-spots’ in the USA, this brew is available, and celebrated, all over the globe. But aside from good old NZ on a hot summer day, where are the best places in the world to appreciate this refreshing drink?
To help you on your quest for the perfect beer drinking holiday, Booking.com has identified a list of the top beer destinations according to global travelers*. Without further ado, here are seven beer-smitten cities you’ll never want to leave.
Plzeň, Czech Republic
Plzeň has been a center of beer-brewing prowess since 1842 when the first ever pilsner lager was brewed here. Nowadays, the city’s iconic Pilsner Urquell brewery offers visitors the chance to taste the best pilsner, fresh from the keg or cask, on a subterranean tour of its cellars. You can recharge your batteries in a comfy bed at Courtyard by Marriott Pilsen (and then grab yourself another brew at the hotel’s popular Pils’n’Grill restaurant…)
Brno, Czech Republic
Home to Starobrno – an old brewery now owned by Heineken – Brno is another great spot for a world-class beer. Here, the locals wash dinner down with Starobrno brews Ležák (a classic blond) and Černé (dark and malty) in the lively area surrounding St. James’ Church. If you’re after somewhere a little more private, grab a beer bucket and relax in the rooftop hot tub of Avanti Hotel, a firm guest favourite in Brno.
Beer-enamoured Bamberg has the highest concentration of breweries per square kilometer in the world. All are bound by the ‘Reinheitsgebot’, a 500-year-old Bavarian purity law requiring all beer to be brewed using only water, malt, yeast, and hops. Bamberg’s local brew is the smoky, thick, and dangerously addictive ‘Rauchbier’, a must-try. Complimentary breakfast at the centrally located Am Blumenhaus provides exactly the sort of sustenance you’ll need after a night out on the town.
From Trappist ales and dark stouts to hoppy tripels and fruity krieks, the range of beer styles in Belgium is staggering. Bruges is home to ‘lambic’, a delicious beer that can be enjoyed in any local bar, along with hundreds of others. Lively Cafe ‘t Brugs Beertj boasts a vast collection of Belgian brews, while Hotel Monsieur Ernest, an elegant 14th-century building that was once a brewery itself, provides comfy lodgings.
Portland, Oregon, USA
Portland is a dreamland for IPA lovers. The self-proclaimed ‘capital of craft’ has more breweries than any other city – and a pub culture to rival all its European adversaries. You can nurse pints of hoppy brews at lively brewpubs across the city, while Breweries like Cascade and Hopworks showcase Portland’s rich craft history. Stylish Hotel Eastlund is the ideal spot to take some time out, with a rooftop terrace and its very own craft beer tavern.
Leuven is home to InBev – the world’s largest brewery – and offers a bounty of artisanal brews to quench your thirst. Ochtend Kriek, St. Adriaansbier, and Nostra Domus are three of the most popular. But with so much choice, your best bet is to head down to the lively Oude Markt and ask locals for their recommendations. Stay close to the action at the deluxe Getaway Studios Leuven, full service apartments right in the heart of Leuven and a short walk from Oude Markt.
Every August millions gather for Qingdao’s epic International Beer Festival. The event is meant to mimic Munich’s world-famous Oktoberfest, but with an added Chinese twist. Bratwurst-serving beer tents, Bavarian band music, and Peking opera performances merge to create a distinctive atmosphere. The festival is sponsored by Tsingtao, whose Qingdao-based brewery and museum are open all year. Afterwards, recharge at the Farglory Residence’s indoor pool and sauna.
*These destinations were the top-rated cities for ‘beer’, according to Booking.com travelers. Destinations had to have over 500 endorsements for ‘beer’.