Europe, Beer, and a 5,000-Year-Old History

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Beer making is thought to have originally started in Iran approximately 7,000-9,000 years ago. However, it also has a long and storied history on the European continent stretching back roughly 5,000 years or more. It is not known if beer making was introduced to early Europeans of the Neolithic era, or if it was spontaneously invented without outside influence. Regardless of the specifics on how European beer-making originally got started, Europe has a long tradition of beer making, and historically it has been a dominant aspect of the continent’s culture, with some of the highest quality varieties of the beverage hailing from the region.

European Beer Tours Offer a Fun Mixture of Drink, History, and Culture

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With the craft-beer industry boom currently taking shape in the United States, it could be argued that US beer tours closely rival the beverage quality offered by European beer tour competitors. What US beer tours have, however, is beer quality alone, they do not possess a long and inseparable history and culture interwoven into their tours as is the case in Europe, and for that reason, European beer tours are still rated as the best. Where else can you sip on some of the most excellent beers in the world in a 1,500-year-old castle cellar while listening to a violinist serenade the streets above with a classical piece written by Mozart? Europe, without exception, represents the very best in beer tours.

What To Expect From European Beer Tours

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Many travel agencies offer pre-organized European beer tours that give participants the ability to zigzag around the continent while soaking in the finest beers, top tourist sites, and most comfortable accommodations that Europe has to offer. What is great about these tours is that the tour agency plans and organizes the trip from start to finish, including scheduling roundtrip airfare, hotel reservations, tour bookings, and in many cases they even feature a tour guide from the beginning of the trip until the end. With all of the beer tour planning done ahead of time, participants can relax and enjoy the experience in a completely stress-free environment.

Many pre-organized European beer tours focus on the premier beer-making countries on the continent, which are Germany, Belgium, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. It is not uncommon for a continental beer tour to pass through 3-4 of the aforementioned countries and then touch down in Germany to celebrate the Oktoberfest as the tour’s grand finale. For those of you unfamiliar with Oktoberfest, is it the largest annual beer festival in the world, held in the city of Munich, Germany.

Select a Beer Tour Package That is Right For You

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With so many different beer tour packages available, always be sure to choose a tour that fits your vacation and travel needs perfectly. There are tours in all shapes and sizes, some are heavy on the drinking and light on the culture and history, while others feature a sprinkling of beer tasting courses and tend to lean more towards other tourism-based activities. Most beer tours are also customizable, so be sure to speak with a travel agent if you’re interested in mixing and combining European beer tour package options.

One thing to be aware of when booking a beer tour is the fact that not all tours are conducive to a family outing, especially if young children will be accompanying you. If you’re interested in numerous beer tasting opportunities, but want to do that in a family-friendly tour environment, then be sure to select a type of package that is conducive to that need. Many tour participants make the mistake of bringing their children with them on rowdy beer tours, which for obvious reasons is a recipe for an all-around unpleasant experience.

Always Practice Proper Beer Tasting Etiquette

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Before embarking on a beer tour, always be mindful of some simple commonly accepted beer tasting rules. Following this set of rules will help you maximize your beer tour and beer tasting courses.

(1.) The first rule of a beer tasting tour is don’t get drunk. Beer tasting courses are created for the purpose of allowing beer drinkers and beer enthusiasts the ability to sample a large variety of different beers. Getting drunk on a beer tour can be insulting to the staff members and brewery owners that are offering you samples of their beverages. You can also get kicked out of a beer tour if you are visibly intoxicated.

(2.) When sampling beer, drink it slow and savor the mouthfeel and full flavor of the beverage. Try and let yourself get into the experience. Do not slam or shotgun your beer samples, as it is tough to experience all that a beer has to offer when drinking it too quickly.

(3.) Feel empowered to ask questions when you’re on a beer tour or are participating in a tasting course. Beer tour staff members and brewery employees are usually extremely friendly and very knowledgeable about beer making processes. If you sample a beer that you really like, delve deeper into the subject and ask the beer tour guide what the magic is behind the beer’s creation. Learning more about beer making can definitely add to the enjoyment of drinking the beverage, as a person can learn to appreciate all of the more delicate details that go into crafting each beer variety.

(4.) If you sample a beer that you are not particularly fond of, be polite about expressing your dissatisfaction openly. While honesty about a beer is always welcomed, expressing your displeasure in an insulting or disparaging way is rude and certainly not helpful to the brewers that crafted the beverage.

(5.) Lastly, only drink the allotted amount of beer samples during a tasting course or tour. Again, referring back to tasting rule number 1, your purpose of participating in a beer tour is not to get drunk. If getting drunk is something you would like to do, then feel free to do so after the tour has ended at a pub or other acceptable location.

The Best Beer Producing Countries in Europe

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(1.) Germany is home to the largest annual beer festival in the world. Oktoberfest, hosted in the ancient city of Munich, is celebrated by millions of beer drinking enthusiasts. Germany is very much a beer drinking culture, and the country produces some of the finest wheat beers, pale ales, and dark lagers in the world.

(2.) Belgium is known for its Trappist beers, which have been brewed for centuries in monasteries by monks that are absolute masters of their craft. There are many beer quality rating lists available, and almost all of them rate Belgium produced beer as the very best in the world.

(3.) The Czech Republic has been perfecting the art of beer making for over 1,000 years. The most common beers you’ll find in the country include pale lagers and pilsner, with the name pilsner itself originating from the Czech city of Pilsen. The beer tours hosted in the city of Prague are particularly breathtaking, as the city is one of the most beautiful in the world.

(4.) The Netherlands is one of the top beer producing countries in the world by volume. It is also known for being the home to some of the best pale lagers. Dutch beer makers are particularly passionate about their craft and are always eager to discuss the brewing processes. Beer tours in the country are extremely fun and consistently top rated.

(5.) Ireland is home to some of the best brewery tours in the world, and it is also a global leader in overall beer production and exports. Ireland is also home to some of the top rated stout beers, with over one-third of the Irish beer drinking market preferring dark beer over everything else.

(6.) The United Kingdom is world renowned for it cask beer, also referred to as real ale. Cask beer finishes its maturing process in a cellar, rather than at the brewing production facility. It is served with natural carbonation only, which makes it very delicious and unique. Other popular beers in the UK include bitter ale, brown ale, mild ale, and lager.

European vs. Australian Beer

Beer production in Australia was established in its entirety by European brewers that settled in the country. While Australia has its own unique brewing techniques, the European influence of the industry’s founders is unmistakable. Lagers are particularly popular amongst Australians and many Europeans, so European beer tour participants from Aus will definitely notice and be thrilled by the beer-culture and brewing overlaps.

Book a Beer Tour Today

European beer tour packages are extremely popular and can easily be booked at any time of the year. Peak beer touring season usually falls around October and coincides with Germany’s huge Oktoberfest celebrations. Most travel agencies offer group discounts for tour packages, so if you plan to travel in a group of 6 or more, then you will likely qualify for a significant discount on your total tour costs.

If you’re wanting some more great information about traveling in Europe and things to do in Europe, then check out some of our other articles!

Getting Around Europe

How Easy Is It to Get Licensed to Drive in Europe?

7 Ways You Know It’s Time for a European Wine Tour