Of course, Germany’s Oktoberfest is the undisputed king of beer festivals. But being so well known, it gets busy too – with over six million people flocking into Munich every year. So how about something a little more low-key? We researched a few of Europe’s less famous and prestigious beer festivals, where you can sample some of the continents top brews. Without lackless tourists spilling your pint!
Great British Beer Festival, London
Might as well start with the one at our doorstep. As you may know if you’re a regular reader of our blog, the UK is now one of the biggest beer producers in Europe (just behind Germany) and has over 2000 breweries scattered around its fair isles. So, it’s only right that this festival of our favourite beverage, held in Kensington Olympia exhibition centre in West London, is now one of the biggest beer festivals in Europe too. Although the 60,000 guests pale in comparison to Oktoberfest’s massive crowds – it is still an exciting day out for beer lovers of all kinds.
Organised by CAMRA (or the Campaign for Real Ale), the Great British Beer Festival runs from the 7th to the 11th of August every year.
Pilsner Fest, Pilsen, Czech Republic
The first Pilsner beer was brewed in this Czech town on the 5th of October 1842. More than 170 years later, they’re still celebrating! With over 250 hectolitres of beer to sample and culinary delights such as beer baked pretzels and barley malt bread to fill your stomach while you drink, this iconic festival celebrates the best of Czech beer culture.
And booze is quite a big part of that as it goes, with the Czech’s collectively drinking the most beer in Europe – at 142.4 yearly litres per capita. That’s roughly one pint for every person every 36 hours. As the locals might say, na zdraví!
Belgian Beer Weekend, Brussels
In the prestigious surrounding of the Grand Palace, over 50 breweries compete for the attention of tourists and locals from this discerning beer drinking nation. Home to some of the world’s most prestigious breweries, including monastic brewhouses dating back to the 15th century and some of the world’s rarest beers, you’ll be sure to find some exciting creations in the Belgian capital. Oh, and best of all? It’s completely free to enter. The pints, though, are on you!
PINT Bokbier Festival, Amsterdam
The gorgeous capital of the Netherlands might be more well known in modern times for its intoxicants of an *ahem* greener nature, but it has a long history with beer too. The international brewing giant Heineken is based here, and visitors can take a look at their original brewery throughout the year. However, it is in Autumn time (27th to 29th of October) that this city’s beer season really kicks off with the Pint Bokbier Festival.
In Holland they have a special Autumn brew, called Bokbier. With its ruby red colour and malty flavourings, Bokbier beer is certainly a unique experience. But be careful though, a pint of Amstel Bobkier (widely considered one of the best around) comes in at 8.5% ABV. So, enjoy responsibly, and make sure you don’t have too many – or you might just fall in one of the city’s many picturesque canals.