Countries that occupy an important position on the global scene of beer production.
While many countries can boast a larger amount of beer produced and attract tourists with their high-profile beer culture, those in the know prefer going to Belgium, the country with the richest and most diverse palette of extraordinary beers. White, red, golden and brown beer, saison and lambic…the choices never end as Belgium abounds with nearly a thousand types of beer. While Stella Artois is definitely the most famous Belgian export, here are also esteemed labels such as Leffe, Hoegaarden and Duvel, while very famous are also Trappist beers – beers produced exclusively in Trappist monasteries. There are strict criteria that ought to be fulfilled for a beer to be considered an authentic Trappist product – monks have to participate in its production, and profits from the sale must go toward the upkeep of the monastery or be invested in social programmes. There are only seven brewers of Trappist beer in the world, and six of them, i.e. Chimay, Orval i Rochefort, are located in Belgium. Taking into consideration this opulence of choice, it seems that the worst thing you can do during your holiday in Belgium is to – order a plain beer!
You can’t think of a single beer from Asia? This could change very soon, as in 2010 Asia overtook Europe when it comes to the amount of beer produced, and its brewing industry (in contrast to Europe’s) is also recording continuous growth. And the country that is leading this surge is – you’d never guess – Vietnam! The beers brewed in this small Asian country are being increasingly acknowledged all over the world, with its Hanoi Beer and Saigon Beer elected as the official beers of the 14th Berlin Beer Festival. And if you happen to find yourself in Vietnam, in addition to bottled beer you can also enjoy bia hoi, a light draft beer that is omnipresent in Vietnamese social life – the experience probably won’t be like the beer drinking that you are used to, but a huge bonus is that the price of this locally produced brew is only about half a kuna!
When it comes to alcoholic drinks, Mexico is not only a synonym for tequila but also for an array of quality beers at very affordable prices (especially if you manage to avoid the inflated ˝tourist˝ prices and find bars that serve the local population). Mexican beer culture holds a strong presence on the global scene with its Corona beer, which is the highest selling foreign beer in the United States of America and is among the most popular import beers in the world in general. Overseas, Corona beer is often served with a slice of lime, but it is disputable how authentic this custom is as this practice is much less widespread in Mexico.
May countries built a good part of their image on beer, but in no other case is this fusion so special, omnipresent and beloved as the ˝love story˝ between the Irish people and beer – thus Irish pubs are an eternally popular nightlife haunts that can be found all over the world, and the most famous Irish export, Guinness beer, has attained an almost iconic status. This popular stout (a type of dark and very thick, almost creamy beer) started off on its path in 1759, and ten years later was exported to the UK for the first time in six and a half barrels – today eight and a half million cubic metres of Guinness are consumed per year. Guinness is produced in approximately fifty countries around the world but it is often said that, because of its freshness, there is no Guinness like Irish Guinness – and this is a fact that, undoubtedly, a good percentage of Ireland’s visitors seek to ascertain.
In addition to leading the Asian ˝invasion˝ of the global beer scene, China is also the largest producer of beer in the world, with its market share unremittingly growing. The Chinese people were already producing a beerlike drink that played an important role in funeral and ancestral worship rites nine thousand years ago, but at the start of the last millennium the popularity of beer went into decline, and modern brewing techniques were only introduced in the late 19th century. However, China soon made up for lost time and can today boast the production of the world’s highest-selling beer, Snow Beer. While the aforementioned beer is, truth be told, mostly bought within the borders of China, Chinese beer culture is becoming increasingly present on the global market with the help of the famous and highly promoted Tsingtao beer, which can be bought in over sixty countries around the world.
Aussies are among the biggest beer drinkers in the world – beer is an important part of Australian culture and also serves as a very welcome for of refreshment during the scorching and sweltering summers. However, beer has not always been Australia’s first choice – historical records say that, in the time of Australia’s first settlers, rum was so popular that it was even used as a semi-official currency! The production of beer began in the nineteenth century, and Australia is today an important exporter of beer that is most recognisable for its Foster’s beer, a lager that enjoys great popularity in many countries of the world, especially the United Kingdom. However, though Foster’s connections to Australia are heavily advertised, it is far from a popular choice in its homeland, and ordering it in Australia would almost represent a social faux pas – rather opt for one of the beers popular among the locals such as Crown Lager.
With 158 litres of beer per capita per year, the Czechs defeat even famed beer drinking nations such as Germany and Ireland, and are currently at the top of the world list of the biggest consumers of beer. The beer industry is so ingrained in Czech culture that it is considered national heritage, and beer is such an important part of the lives of the Czech that it is referred to as ˝liquid bread˝. The Czech Republic’s two most famous ˝beer towns˝, Plzeň and České Budějovice, had their own breweries already in the thirteenth century, and today produce the two moust famous Czech beers– Pilsner Uruquell, the first ˝pilsner˝ type beer in the world, and Budweiser Budvar. The exceptional quality of Czech beers and, for Western standards, still very affordable prices make the Czech Republic one of the most attractive destinations for beer lovers.