October is a time for beer festing! In days long past, the harvests would be complete or nearing completion and worn out boots would jump at the chance to kick up some dance dust. There’d be plenty of joyful imbibing too, including artisanal yeast-fermented grain drinks (aka beer!).
Most of us no longer worry about stocking our cupboards for long hard winters, but there’s no escaping how much we love any autumn excuse to bask in a good brew.
Here are 11 of our favorite brewtopias (in alphabetical order), especially when it comes to craft beer. Of course, we never wait for October to quaff, but there’s something especially right about enjoying them as crisp autumn weather arrives.
The craft beer scene in Amsterdam is world class. The most famous one-stop beer shop is Delirium Café, where a stock of more than 720 beer varieties from all over the world makes it Amsterdam’s widest selection. For something more archetypically Dutch, try Brouwerij ’t IJ, located at the foot of the city’s biggest wooden windmill, or Grandcafe de Wildeman in its 17th-century building.
Since 1994, when Highland Brewing opened as the first post-Prohibition brewery in the city, Asheville has come along way. So much so that BeerCity USA awarded Asheville top honors – first or tied for first – in four of the five years of the poll’s existence (2009-2013). Other brewery cornerstones are places like Green Man, Catawba and, of course, New Belgium Brewery and Sierra Nevada.
In Brussels, the capital city of a country notable for its beer, the family-run (four generations!) Brasserie Cantillon is a beer geek’s nirvana in which the brewers experiment with wild yeasts and wine-beer hybrids. Other places of craft beer interest in a city chock full of them are Bier Circus, a bar with an interesting tasting room section, and Brussels Beer Project, a brewery powered by enthusiasm.
Home to the Great American Beer Festival, now in its 35th year and presenting the largest collection of U.S. beer ever served (more than 800 breweries, 3,800+ beers), Denver is at the heart of a vibrant brewery and brewpub scene. Falling Rock is the craft beer bar that started it all, but is now just one of many others serving New Belgium, Great Divide and more.
Your cup runneth over when it comes to pubs in Melbourne, now even those that showcase craft beer from Australia and elsewhere. For a focus on Aussie and Kiwi brews, try The Terminus Hotel, although places like Feral and Stone & Wood will also keep you busy with local and international tipple.
Montreal is packed with flavor and craft beer is an increasingly important part of its profile. This is made clear during its Mondial de la Bière, Canada’s largest beer festival. Montreal has craft beer bars of all size and allure. The three-story Brutopia Brew Pub is big and boisterous, while the Brasserie Dieu du Ciel is much more intimate. A perfect middle ground is Les 3 Brasseurs, which brews its own beer on site.
Beer is serious business in Munich. Home of the world-renowned Oktoberfest, the city boasts more than 180 beer gardens, with seating for 180,000 drinkers, most slurping down the seven dominant breweries’ 158 million gallons a year. That’s a lot beer! Despite the obstacles, small breweries have nevertheless returned and are focusing on innovation. Just for the experience, though, grab a stein at the famous Hofbräuhaus München. Prost!
Low-key Portland, Maine, has caught the beer bug and, in turn, surprised many a beer aficionado by both the quality of the craft brews and the sheer number of craft breweries, most of them alongside bars and restaurants a short walk from the compact downtown. The diverse product offering includes Allagash, Bissel Brothers, Oxbow and Bunker Brewing.
Craft beer is everywhere in Portland, Oregon. In fact, Portland has more breweries than any other city – about 85 in the metro area, a number still on the rise – making it the craft beer capital of the world. One classic place for tastings is Produce Row Café. For geekier fare, try Belmont Station. And to test some unusual styles, where brewers sometimes trial their experiments, head to Coalition Brewing.
Pilsner beers, the type distributed most widely in the world today, were first concocted in the Czech city of Plzeň in 1842. Try that old style in Prague at U Medvidku. Alongside it today, too, are 20 or so brewpubs selling lagers you’ve never heard of… that are usually delicious. Start at Beergeek, but aim to get to Sluneční terasa T-Anker for the incomparable view.
Later than other cities, but with no less gusto, Tokyo has emerged as a true craft beer destination. By far the best place to begin sampling is Goodbeer Faucets, which has one of Tokyo’s largest selections of microbrews (Japanese and American). Baird Beer taprooms are more focused on Japanese-style beers. For authentically Japanese fare and style, try Beer Bar Ushitora.