Around the world in 8 beers
Ale. Lager. Stout. Porter. Bitter. Beer…Beer, a magical word that encompasses such an enormous range of drinks it’s almost unfathomable. I’m most known for my love of wine (and how deep that love runs) but I enjoy most alcoholic beverages. Except cider. I don’t get that at all.
But anyway, when it comes to beer, I of course have a preference for particular styles and brands. However, such is my commitment to seeking out new flavours, I’ll try most things. Except cider, obviously.
Beer is a drink that permeates cultures and societies around the world. It’s a truly global beverage.
In fact, it’s the third most consumed drink in the world, and the most consumed alcoholic one. The only 2 liquids consumed more than beer are water and tea.*1 Beer pips wine, and even coffee, to third place.
I am one of a huge number of Brits who loves a pint. In the league of beer drinkers however, we’ve let ourselves go, coming in at a measly 8th spot, consuming 1, 079, 935 gallons in 2020.*2 The countries ahead of us, in order, are China, the USA, Brazil, Russia, Mexico, Germany, and Japan. (Vietnam and Spain complete the top 10)
But, I hear you gurgle, China has a huge population. Per capita is a more important beer statistic. I would agree. However, when it comes to per capita consumption, we don’t even make the top 10!*2
So, how can we up our game, but in doing so broaden our experience of the many wonderful, flavoursome beers out there?
Beer, like wine, allows us to travel the world from our favourite chair. Below are my suggestions as to how to travel the world in 8 beers. Like some kind of inebriated Phileas Fogg. Who surely had a beer or two before agreeing to travel the world in a balloon?
The one that started it all: Budvar – Czech Republic (97101)
The history of brewing in České Budějovice dates back to 1265. So good was the beer, that the Holy Roman Empire made this their imperial brewery.
This town is the origin of the name Budweiser (Adolphus Busch emigrated to the USA in the late 1800s). Today Budvar (or Budweiser Budvar as it will appear) is a flavoursome, pale lager with a sweetly hoppy character. A great introduction to good quality lager.
The world’s most famous beer? Guiness – Republic of Ireland (27539)
This is my personal favourite in the list. I’ve been a Guinness drinker for as long as I can remember (legally of course). Arthur Guinness famously signed a 1,000 year lease on the St. James Gate brewery in 1759 and brought the world this elegant, full bodied, and rich stout. Which isn’t actually black; it’s very, very, very deep red.
A land of mystery and beauty: Asahi – Japan (54460)
Asahi was founded in 1889 as The Osaka Beer Company. Nearly 100 years later, in 1987, they developed and launched Asahi Super Dry, one of the first beers in the world to be brewed as a food matching beer.
It quickly rose to prominence and is today the world’s number 1 Japanese beer.*3 It’s bold, crisp, and utterly refreshing.
State side style: Goose Island IPA – U.S.A. (34454)
There has been a long running joke about the quality of American beers that I cannot possibly repeat in polite company. Suffice to say, not everyone thinks about America when it comes to quality beer.
There has since been an explosion of quality, craft, and dynamism in the American beer scene. American John Hall started his Chicago brewery in 1988 having been inspired by European beers. This IPA has it all; citrus freshness, grapefruit zing, and softly sweet floral notes. Best have a gander at this one.
Once you pop, you can’t stop: Grolsch – Holland (81022)
Those of us of a certain age will remember this beer launching, not for the beer initially, but for the pop and swing top. The Grolsch bottle, and its popper stopper, is the second most recognisable bottle in the world, behind only Coca-Cola. This premium pilsner is crisp, malty, and filled with green fruit flavours.
Italian flair, style and passion: Peroni Nastro Azzuro – Italy (52473)
Easily one of the world’s most famous and recognisable beers. Peroni dates back to 1846 when founder Francesco Peroni set up a brewery in northern Italy.
Fewer than 20 years later, he was opening a second brewery, in Rome. Their most famous beer, Nastro Azzuro, launched in 1963. It perfectly balances bitterness, crispness, and flavours of Italian summer. There’s also a great gluten free version.
Feline majesty and prowess: Tiger Beer – Singapore (17616)
Singapore is too close to the equator to grow the ingredients necessary to make beer. In 1932, Tiger established itself to defy convention. Using the finest European ingredients, and a new brewing process called Tropical Lagering (most of us have done that at some point) they created a world first Singaporean beer.
Tiger Imperial is rich, full bodied, and filled with flavour. Unleash the Tiger with great Asian food; it’s the cat’s whiskers.
In honour of the Landlord (and Landlady): Tim Taylor’s Landlord – England (10707)
Yorkshireman Timothy Taylor established the brewery in West Yorkshire in 1858. It moved to Knowle Spring in 1863, where it remains, still in the hands of the Taylor family. Landlord is a complex, citrusy, hoppy, and incredibly drinkable beer. For my money, it’s the best session beer out there. There’s a reason it has won more awards than any other beer.
So that’s it, 8 beers with which to travel around the world. But… I am aware there are those who don’t consume alcohol for a variety of reasons and perhaps still desire the taste of a decent beer. Hands down, the best non-alcohol beer I have ever tried is Brooklyn’s Special Effects (4610). Brewed using Lazy Yeast, it’s bitterly sweet and packed with character.
With these great beers in mind, I am off to help bump the UK back up the beer drinking league table. Sensibly and responsibly of course.
For a greater range of palate-inspiring beers, head to the Unity webpage to see our range of bottled, canned, and kegged beers.
*Oxford Companion To Beer
**Top Ten Beer Consuming Countries Per Capita
(world population review).