Beer is loved by a vast swath of humanity. From pole to pole and across continental and cultural divides, we drink a lot of those amber suds. Some countries are so known for their beers that you think of beer culture first when that place pops to mind — we’re looking at you the Czech Republic. That’s not to say beer-centric countries don’t possess other endearing qualities. It’s just that beer is great and we love it.
But which country has the best beer? What a loaded question. It’s one that the good people over at Ranker wanted a definitive answer to, so they asked the masses. Well, the people have voted. And, oh boy, there are some upsets on this list. The United States, the land of 5,000 breweries and a thousand times as many beer ‘critics’ didn’t even place in the top ten. Maybe it’s our unabashed obsession with IPAs that drowned us. It’s hard to say.
Let’s get into it.
Australia feels like a perfectly serviceable beer location to be in the number ten slot. Sure, they have the big macro adjunct lagers that dominate the mass-market — like most markets to be honest — but, Australia also has a deep beer drinking and pub culture that cherishes an ice cold mug of beer any time of the day.
There’s also a killer craft beer scene from Sydney to Perth to Darwin and back again. No one’s reinventing the wheel down under, but they’re certainly adept at making great beer.
9. UNITED KINGDOM
Wow, the UK this low on the list seems a bit of a slight, a slap in the face even. If Australia even has a beer culture, it’s because of the United Kingdom. Beer is king in Britain. Pubs abound and groups like Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) dominate the cultural and social scene across the British Isles.
Then there’s the micro-pub scene around Dover, the behemoth craft scene spearheaded by companies like BrewDog up in Scotland, and big-hitting national brands. If you’re not drinking a local pint ‘down the pub‘ when you’re in Britain, you’re doing it wrong.
This is the first curveball on this list. Sure, Austrians drink a lot of beer — as much as the Germans per capita. And Tyrolean beer gardens are a thing of beauty. But do any of us think, “Hey, let’s go on a beer vacation to… Austria?”
To be fair, Austria has a superb and very old beer scene like their neighbors to the north in Bavaria. There’s a small craft scene inching its way onto the market. But with an entrenched love of classic beers and a small, older population, it’s only making small waves. So far.
Denmark is one of those places where everything just feels like it’s done better. Their social systems work, NOMA was based there, and they have two world class and iconic craft breweries — Mikkeller and To Øl.
Beer is done well in Denmark. Innovation runs deep in the ideas flowing from Danish breweries. There’s a sense that if you’re drinking beer in Denmark, you’re going to have something special and new that you may never get anywhere else in the world. Of course, there are the standard pale lagers too. Classics like Tuborg are there to get you by if all the frou-frou of uber-hipster innovative-bent craft brews are just too much (and sometimes they are).
This one feels just right. Ireland is another deeply publican-orientated culture. Beer flows in Ireland as dark as the north Atlantic seas. Guinness may be king in Ireland, but there’s a whole slew of great craft breweries all over the island.
Craft brewers like O’Hara’s are taking old Irish beer traditions and bringing in new spins, refining old classics, and maintaining the fun of drinking a quick pint or two. Ireland is another place where if you’re not sipping on a pint in a pub somewhere, you might not be doing your trip right.
The Netherlands is another country that screams beer. You have the major lager juggernauts Heineken, Grolsch, and Amstel (brewed by Heineken) for starters. From there, there’s a distinct beer culture that serves as a bridge between Germanic, Belgian, and British styles.
Beer in the Netherlands can be a classic Trappist ale from a monastery, a pale lager from a macro brewery, or a small family run farm brewery from eons ago — and that’s just scratching the surface.
4. CZECH REPUBLIC
If you listen closely, you can almost hear the screams of a few million Czechs and beer lovers when they find that the Czech Republic is number four on this list — and not, say, first or second.
The Czech Republic’s big national brands are amongst the best-produced beer in the world. Pilsner Urquell, Budvar, Velkopopovický Kozel, Krušovice, and Staropramen are just a few great beers to try when you arrive in Prague. The real treat for any beer lover is to track down a Tankovna bar. That’s a spot where fresh Pilsner Urquell is shipped directly to the bars in airtight tankards and served as fresh as humanly possible. It’s pilsner at its absolute best.
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Поезд мчит меня из Москвы в Петербург, а я продолжаю выкладывать фотки из Праги. Вы ведь не думаете, что мы питались только искусством?) Конечно, мы точили пивко, дни напролёт! В Праге пиво пьют все и в любое время суток. И даже бармен с официантками пьют не отходя от рабочего места и совершенно без палева 😎
This is another tough one to call. Belgium is the home to such heavy-hitting and beloved beers as the sour bombs of Lambic and Gueuze. Yet their macro lagers like Juliper do leave you wanting something more refined.
Still, Belgium is a beer mecca, full stop. People travel from every corner of the world to tour the great Lambic and Gueuze breweries and blenders. Beer bars around Brussels and Belgium are legendary. And it’s hard to beat a classic and tart farmhouse Saison any time of the year. So, Belgium at number three feels right.
That sound you just heard was a record scratch for the ages. This is so out of left field that we’re not really sure how or why Macedonia ended up at number two on this list without some major trolling. Or… did the Macedonian tourism board try to affect the rankings? Are you telling us that the masses can’t always be trusted?
Macedonia does have a beer culture that’s based on southern Slavic traditions. There are some killer lagers, dark lagers, and beautiful smoked beers. Temov has one of the only major crafty lines in the country and they do do a great job of brewing up delicious beer. So, don’t count Macedonian suds out. Just, number two…in the world. Nah. Sorry.
Y’all knew this was going to be here. Could it really be anyone else but the Germans in the number one spot?
Germany deserves this spot for two reasons. One, the beer in Germany really is that much better than most other places on earth. Two, there is so much variety on hand across the country’s beer gardens. There are lagers, dark lagers, pilsners, Kölsch, Gose, Hefeweizen, Berliner Weisse, ales, pale ales, smoked ales. And that’s just a few of the classic styles. There’s also a massive, well-received craft beer scene that rivals the US and UK. Oh, and did we mention? There are awesome beer gardens everywhere.
People love beer in Germany. People love German beer. It’s a win win.