Beer. That wonderful device used to bring people of all backgrounds and nationalities together. I admit that whenever I travel, I seek out the local beers, but I’ve definitely bonded with many people; nothing breaks the ice better in your hostel by saying “hey, want to get a beer together?”. With that being said, I’d like to compare the cold ones I’ve had whilst on the road.
- Timișoreana (pale lager)
- Ciuc (pale lager)
- The house beers from Bucharest’s legendary Caru’ cu Bere restaurant
- Ursus (pale lager)
- Sarajevsko pivo (lager)
- Pilsner Urquell (pilsner, the granddaddy of them all)
- Budweiser (from the original Budweiser Budvar Brewery in České Budějovice, Czech Republic)
- Amsterdam’s The IJ Brewery‘s pilsner and lager beers
- Real Heineken, from the Heineken Experience in Amsterdam
- Jopen (Haarlem, Netherlands)’s Adriaan white beer
- Saku Original (light beer; Saku Brewery, Estonia)
- Mead (!!!) from the Vilnius pub Aline Leiciai
- Local ales and lagers from Aline Leiciai.
- Nikšićko (lager) from Montenegro.
So, which ones were the best? Honestly, it’s hard picking out the single best, as each and every one were great. I’m inclined to say Pilsner Urquell (directly from the underground kegs, no less) was the best one I had, simply because it’s my favorite type of beer. However, I do have to give an honorary nod to The IJ Brewery (aka the Windmill Brewery) because their beers can only be found in the Netherlands. Can’t get much more unique than that, eh? Heineken is a classic beer, which is going to annoy quite a few people, but having it straight from the source never hurts. I also will say Jopen’s Adriaan wit was absolutely refreshing, especially paired with a hot meal. It continues to haunt me that I couldn’t find it more in restaurants and stores there, as it’s probably one of the best white beers I’ve had. No surprise there, as the Netherlands consistently produces excellent beer. One of my pleasant surprises was Timișoreana, the ubiquitous Romanian beer. When I went there, temperatures were stifling hot, but drinking the stuff absolutely helped. Even then, it was a good quality beer to drink, and I was more than happy to enjoy it. On the topic of Romania, all the beers I had there were great. It’s a bit of a surprise, personally, to see that their brewing industry isn’t as known. The latest chance I’ve had to engage in the local brewing scene was in Montenegro and their solid (and perennially chilly) Nikšićko lager. Costing one Euro a pop, the taste was refreshing and thus the beer of choice in the country. I think this is noteworthy especially since cheapness is associated with lower quality; thankfully, this cynicism has tended to be limited to North America. Overall, these beers possess surprisingly high quality, and I only wish they’d be imported/exported just to share the wealth. As you may have noticed, I have positive things to say about all these best beers due to the fact that they were either pilsners or lagers; it is nice having that comfort of the cold ones you like being abundantly available. Though, I realize that for some people your tastes may be different, but rest assured you’re in good alcoholic hands if you find yourself drinking any of these beers on this list.