In this little mountain town of more than 87,000 people with 22 breweries. Bend has more breweries per-capita than any other city in Oregon. Bend has a startling abundance of world-class breweries clustered close together like the gold at the end of a big, beer rainbow. You can take a walking tour of breweries on the Bend Ale Trail or you can hop on the famous cycle bus (shown in photo) for a very unique and fun way to explore all the breweries. Combined with mountain biking, rock climbing, camping, hiking, and big beautiful mountains, Bend is the perfect beer adventure town.
PILSEN, CZECH REPUBLIC
Czech’s are the largest consumers of beer in world (more than 41 gallons per person per year). The Czech Republic is one of the cheapest places in Europe to buy a beer. $1.25 for half a liter. Pilsen is the birthplace of the almighty Pilsner, an hour away from tourist-heavy Prague, hums with the culture and stunning architecture that make the Czech Republic such a popular destination. The beer rituals, though, will bump your trip to another level: simply ordering an unfiltered, unpasteurized version of Pilsner Urquell is a must for beer geeks. The early fall brings the Pilsner Fest, which includes a hugely popular “proper foam pour” bartending competition. And if you’re into unique (if super-gimmicky) beer experiences? Hit the beer spa (shown in photo), where you can literally bathe in the stuff.
It’s funny to think that a tiny, remote city of 120,000 in the middle of the North Atlantic would be host to one of the better beer scenes you haven’t heard about yet. But just like its national soccer team’s surprisingly dominant run at the Euro Cup, Iceland should now be considered a brewing culture dark horse. Instead of the “copy and paste” routine typical of so many rising beer cities that replicate American styles, local breweries like Gæðingur Brugghús, Ölvisholt Brugghús, and Borg Brugghús are reviving historic styles that can’t be found in other countries, or adding a personal flair to established styles. You won’t have to go far to get the good stuff: locals’ favorite bars for beer have well-curated lists, whether it’s Skúli Craft Bar, Micro Bar, Kaldi Bar, or the ever-trusty Mikkeller & Friends (which also has a killer restaurant on its ground floor). The only possible drawback: great beer, alas, does not quite make the same riveting anecdote as choking down fermented shark, and Icelandic delicacy. Enjoy a Gull beer in while floating in the natural pools of the Blue Lagoon (shown in photo).
Beer fests have evolved over time, but nothing compares to the Queen Mother of them all. Oktoberfest can be described as part pilgrimage, part state fair and part family reunion with a dash of medieval revival. But even after the tents are packed, is there be a better place in the world to enjoy a stein of liquid bliss than Munich? The original Seven Sisters of Munich breweries have effectively been reduced to three blended families, but the brewing tradition endures.
There is even an aptly named Munich toasted malt that is used in Munich Dunkel, Märzen, Oktoberfest and Doppelbock, all classic beer styles with roots in the city. Bavarian Weizen flows year round and small breweries with a knack for innovation have returned. Whether your choice is to grab a bench in a traditional beer hall in the old city, to take a seat on a glorious summer day in a well shaded outdoor beer garden in the city center, or a stool at a trendy beer bar, your stein will never be empty. Traditional, modern, or a unique mixture of both, Munich never disappoints. Prost!
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA
Is there a locale in the U.S. that has more impact breweries than San Diego? The brands of Stone, Ballast Point and Green Flash along with The Lost Abbey, Karl Strauss, AleSmith and Pizza Port can all be found in San Diego County. For foodies, visit the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens (shown in photo), which is groundbreaking in more ways than one given its own nearby farm. If you can’t get to the breweries, O’brien’s Pub is known as the hoppiest place on earth, which is saying something given the perennial sunshine in southernmost California and the love of West Coast hops in these areas. From 15-barrel breweries like Pizza Port Ocean Beach to tap houses like Churchill’s Pub or upscale eateries such as The Grill located at the Lodge at Torrey Pines, there’s plenty of imaginative dishes and excellent pairings to match. To quote the late Charlie Gow, “A determined enthusiast could spend a full week of continuous tours of breweries, brewpubs and alehouses in San Diego County, yet still not cover the rapidly growing beer scene.”
Travel the Globe. Enjoy local Beer. Absorb the beauty of the world.
– The Pubinno Crew