Travel the World in Search of the Best Brew

by  Andrew Hickey | Mar 17, 2009
Beer on table in rooftop bar at Amsterdam, Netherlands
Beer on table in rooftop bar at Amsterdam, Netherlands / Prasit Rodphan/iStock

While downing a cold Guinness yesterday, in preparation for St. Patrick's day of course, I was inspired to write about my second favorite hobby besides travel . . . beer. Now I'm not a raging alcoholic and I don't need 12 steps (at least I don't think I do) – I just deeply appreciate an icy cold adult beverage, whether it be an exotic lager from a far away land or a strikingly good stout made in a local brewery. One of the best ways to sample (or chug) some suds is by checking out a beer festival. Read on to discover five noteworthy brew cities and their big booze events. Cheers – and may the luck of the Irish be with you!

Portland, Oregon Did you know that little ole' Portland boasts some 30 microbreweries in all? What's more, with a total of 46 breweries and brewpubs at which to sample this bounty on tap, Portland can claim more such establishments per capita than any other locale in the U.S.. Many of the city's breweries have won both nationwide and international acclaim. Now that's definitely something to celebrate . . .with a beer, of course! Be sure to check out the Portland International Beerfest (July 17–19), where booze aficionados pay $20 for 10 beer tickets (each beer cost anywhere from 1–4 tickets) and receive an official "PIB" glass.

Montreal, Canada Celebrating its 16th year, the Mondial de la Bière 2009 is a 5-day beer bonanza located at Windsor Station and Courtyard in downtown Montreal. The event, which will be held June 3–7, offers samples originating from five continents and includes over 300 beers, with 15 of them drafted especially for the occasion! There will also be food for sale, delicious Quebec cider, and beer seminars and workshops. Admission is free, but you'll need anywhere from one to five drink tickets (at $1 a pop) for a 3- to 4-ounce sample.

New York, New York Nicknamed the "United Nations of Beers", The Great World Beer Fest is a tour de force drinking event that takes place every year in late October/early November. While an official date has yet to be set for the 2009 sud-guzzling gala (organizers are probably still recoving from 2008's hangover), you can be sure that when it is, tickets will sell quickly for this very popular fall festival. The GWBF welcomes an average of 15,000 beer enthusiasts over its 2-day duration. Stay tuned to their website for an official announcement on exact dates, times, and location.

Pilsen, Czech Republic This small city in the Czech Republic has been brewing beer, most notably pilsner, since way back in 1295. It is quite possibly the most beloved beer town in the world. So it would only make sense that they would also throw one of the best annual beer-centric events – Pilsner Fest started 167 years ago as a way to celebrate the creation of the first beer in the world. The 2-day event will take place this year October 2–3; check out Plzensky Prazdroj brewery's official website for more information on Pilsner Fest 2009.

Munich, Germany Host to the world's biggest and most famous beer festival, Oktoberfest (which, surprisingly is held every September, due to October's traditionally inclement weather) is a beer lover's nirvana. What else can I say about this 2-week event that hasn't already been written or well documented? Show up, snack on an over-sized pretzel, grab a giant stein of icy cold lager, and be prepared to do some serious Deutschland drinking. This Superbowl of suds will be held September 19–October 4 in 2009.

Need more beer-fueled travel inspiration? Check out our Top 10 Cities for Beer Lovers. Something we missed? Let us know here!

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