Find out the top beer brands and producing countries. We compare German, Belgian, Czech, American, Irish, British and Mexican beers. We discuss the question of what is the best beer? Share with us which are your favorite brands and breweries.
Best beer in the world?
Beer is the most popular alcoholic drink in the world and probably the oldest one. There are records of brewing from ancient Iraq and Egypt. Today this fermented beverage is produced and sold in most countries. There are many different varieties of lager, ale and stout beers and a growing number of beer connoisseurs who really care and understand the subtle differences between brews. What makes a good beer? There is no simple answer. It may boil down to personal preferences and the context in which you drink the beer, the time of the day, temperature, what you are eating, etc. However, there are also many technical considerations to take into account if you want to assess a beer. The freshness and quality of the ingredients is important. Barley, wheat, maize and rice are grains used in the fermentation of beer. Hops, fruits, herbs, juts, coffee and cocoa are often added to give flavor and aroma to beers. The temperature, humidity and equipment used to brew a batch of beer has a strong impact on its taste too. Over the last decades craft brewing has become increasingly popular and thousands of brewpubs and microbreweries have started to produce new brands of beers. Innovation is building on tradition and we can certainly say that the quality and variety of beers today is superior to that available at any time in our past history. Today we compare the countries which are usually considered to produce the best beer in the world and shortlist some of the highest quality beer brands you can find in each of them.
Best beer countries
Belgium has a strong beer tradition and there are about 180 breweries in the country. Some of them are very small, whilst others have become international giants. Belgium offers a impressive variety of beers, including several types of ales (e.g. amber, blonde, pale, brown, strong ale), stout, Flemmish red, pilsners, lambic and season beers. Belgians have demonstrated that tradition is not incompatible with innovation. Ancestral and modern techniques coexists. New ingredients have been introduced. Special Belgian beers usually are served in elaborate and distinct beer glassware.
Best Belgian Beers:
This is a list of the some of the top beer brands you can find in Belgium in addition to other famous brands such as Stella Artois and Jupiler:
- Cantillon Fou' Foune: produced in Brussels, this is an excellent fruity lambic-style beer.
- Chimay (red or blue): made by the Trappist monks of Forges-les-Chimay, these are fruity and strong beers with a hint of nutmedg and thyme.
- Delirium Tremens: a spicy amber ale produced in Ghent.
- Hoegaarden: the best known Belgian wheat beer. It is a refreshing beer which also contains malted barley.
- Leffe (brown or blond): very popular beer from Leuven, Leffe Brune is dark and very aromatic strong beer. Leffe Blonde is fragrant and pale abbey beer with a distinct golden color.
- Rodenbach: this brewery located in Roeselare is famous for its reddish brown ales.
- Trappist Westvleteren XII: this dark and full-bodied beer from Westmalle has been considered the best beer in the world.
Czech beer has a long history that can be trace back to 993 AD when the Břevnov Monastery in Prague was founded. Czechs love beer and they often top the rankings for per capita beer consumpion. The most common type of beer in the world today, the pale lager, derives from the Czech pilsner style beers. The first ever blond lager Pilsner Urquell was produced in 1842 in the city of Plzeň (Pilsen). Currently there are more than 70 brands of beer in Czech Republic.
Best Czech beers:
- Matuška Stout: this is a dark brown creamy beer with aroma of chocolate, coffee and nuts brewed by Pivovar Matuška in Broumy.
- Pilsner Urquell: this golden and bitter beer was the first blond lager ever produced and remains one of the most popular Czech beers in the world.
- Kozel Černý: this is the dark variant produced at the Kozel brewery in Velké Popovice. It is made of four types of malts and it is famous for its dark foam.
- Staropramen Premium Lager: the name means "old source", this traditional pilsen beer from Prague has recently become very popular.
- Budweiser-Budvar: this famous lager from České Budějovice inspired the famous American beer brand.
- Černá Hora: the name of this beer means "black mountain" and refers to a small town north of Brno with one of the oldest breweries in the country.
Germany is the fourth country in the world in per capita consumption of beer. German beer is often consider the best in the world. In Germany, beer has been brewed for centuries according to the Reinheitsgebot (purity order) law which regulates the ingredients which can be used, mainly water, hops and malt. Germany is also home to the famous Oktoberfest, probably the festival in the world in which the greatest quantity of beer is consumed. In Germany there are about 1,300 breweries and 5,000 brands.
Best German beers:
In a country with so many breweries and brands it is difficult to shortlist just a few of them but here there is a list of some German beers worth trying and that are not as famous as others such as Beck's, Erdinger and Bitburger:
- Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier: this golden Bavarian wheat beer, has a smooth yeast taste and banana flavour and is brewed by Bayersische Staatsbrauerei Weihenstephan.
- Augustiner Helles: this is a pale lager with a prolonged secondary fermentation produced by Augustiner-Bräu in Munich.
- Früh Kölsch: this is all-barley pale ale with some fruity notes brewed by Brauerei Früh am Dom in Cologne.
- Köstritzer Schwarzbier: this is one of the oldest black lagers in Germany brewed in Bad Köstritz.
- Celebrator Doppelbock: this is Dopplebock-style beer brewed by the Ayinger Brewery in Aying, Bavaria. This dark beer with a strong malty aroma won in 2007 the World Beer Championship.
Irish beer has become famous worldwide thanks to Arthur Guiness, who, in 1756, set up a small brewery in Dublin which grew to become the largest brewer of stout beer in the world. Ales and porter-style beers have also been traditionally produced in Ireland. Since the early 1990s there has been a brewery explosion and many brewpubs and microbreweries have contributed to enriching the Irish beer culture and complement the traditional offer. Currently there are 55 breweries in the Republic of Ireland producing a wide range of real ales, lagers and stouts. Ireland is today the seventh country in the world in terms of per capita consumption of beer.
Best Irish beers:
- Guiness Draught: this creamy, light stout with chocolate and coffee flavors from Dublin is probably one of the most iconic beers in the world.
- Harp Lager: is an golden pale Irish lager produced by Guiness since since 1960 in its Great Nothern Brewery in Dundalk.
- Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale: this amber ale with a creamy head and a flavor of toasted malt is brewed by Smithwick's Brewery in Kilkenny.
- Murphy's Irish Red: this crisp, hoppy, dry beer with fruit and caramel aroma is brewed in Cork.
- Oyster Stout: this dark aromatic beer brewed by Porterhouse Brewing Co. in Dublin mixes notes of grains, hops and fresh oysters.
- Ohara's Curim Gold: this is a gold Irish wheat beer brewed in Carlow. It is mild and smooth on the palate and some hints of fruits and hops on the nose.
Mexico also has a long history of beer brewing. Before the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadores, Mexicans brewed alcoholic drinks including corn beer. The arrival of German immigrants and the short period under the Austrian emperor Maximilian I contributed to promote the beer culture in Mexico. The beer industry in Mexico has grown enormously and experienced a process of concentration under two big companies, Cervecería Cuauhtémoc-Moctezuma/FEMSA and Grupo Modelo, which control 90% of the nation's production.
Best Mexican beers:
- Dos Equis Ambar: this Vienna-style full bodied brown lager offers notes of dark rum, hazelnut and vanilla and is brewed Monterrey by Cuauhtémoc-Moctezuma.
- Negra Modelo: this is a German-style dunkel with notes of caramel and a hint of chocolate is brewed in Mexico City.
- Victoria: this is a refreshing cerveza clara (pale lager) style which offer a distinct taste to other similar beers such as Tecate, Corona, Pacifico or Modelo Especial.
- La Lupulosa: this American IPA-style beer is brewed by the independent Cerveceria Insurgente in Tijuana.
- Minerva Stout: Cerveceria Minerva produces this Irish dry stout beer in Guadalajara.
The United Kingom has a very long tradition of top-fermented bitters, stouts, and porters. However after the Second World War lagers took over the market. Since the 1970s there has been a coordinated effort to promote the ale sector. The Campaign for Real Ale has been successful in bringing back traditional beers. Since 2002 there has been an explosion of breweries. There are about 1,500 breweries and more than 8,000 brands in the UK.
Best British beers:
These are some of the beers brewed in the UK today:
- Worm Catcher I.P.A.: this IPA-style pale ale brewed by the Late Knights in London strikes a good balance between fragrance and bitterness.
- Harvey's Blue Label: this is a malty and sweet pale ale brewed in Lewes.
- Fuller's London Porter: this porter style well-hoped beer made from brown malt is brewed by in Chiswick, London.
- Conqueror: this is a black IPA beer which combines rich malty tones of dark ale with the hoppy taste of IPAs and it is produced by the Windsor & Eton Brewery.
- Meantime Raspberry Wheat: this fruity wheat beer brewed in London, offers a refreshing zesty and balances sweet and sour notes on the palate.
- Buxton Yellow Belly: this is an imperial stout-style beer brewed in Buxton offers a taste of peanut butter and chocolate.
United States of America
Native American tribes produced corn beer before the arrival of Europeans. In the 17th century the Dutch West India Company imported beer to Manhattan and the first brewery of the country was established in New Jersey. The brewing traditions from Engalnd and Netherlands, were later enriched with the techniques brought to America by German and central European migrants. There are more than 3,000 breweries in America, ranging from small brewpubs to industry giants. Although the American lager, a type of pale lager, is still the most popular beer in the country, thanks to "craft breweries" many new types of beer have emerged in the US such as, the cream ale, amber ale, California common, American IPA, India Pale Lager, and Imperial IPA or American Double IPA).
Best American beers:
The US is not only home to extremely popular beer brands such as Budweiser, Busch, Coors and Miller, but also to other less well-known high quality beers such as:
- 90 Minute IPA: this Imperial IPA brewed by Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Milton, Delaware, has an orange-bronze color and features a sweet and hoppy aroma.
- Mornin' Delight: an Imperial Stout by the Toppling Goliath brewery in Decorah, Iowa, which offers an intense expresso aroma with notes of vanilla and maple syrup.
- Sierra Nevada Pale Ale: this classic style full bodied pale ale with a spicy flavour is brewed in Chico, California.
- Oro de Calabaza: this Belgian-style strong pale ale is aged in large oak casks and fermented in the bottle. Oro de Calabaza is brewed in Dexter, Michigan.
- Samuel Adams' Boston Lager: this full bodied Vienna-style beer brewed in Jamaica Pain, Massachussetts, offers a caramel aroma with piney and citrus notes.
- Dragoon Lazarus: this American Barleywine brewed in Tucson, Arizona, offers a soft and complex, toasty and chocolately flavor.
There are many other beer countries with an important brewing tradition that you may want to consider in your choice. Here you have a list of countries and some of their best beer brands:
- Austria: Stiegl, Gösser, Marauer
- Denmark: Carlsberg, Tuborg, Hvidtøl
- China: Tsingtao, Snow, Yanjing
- Netherlands: Heineken, Amstel, Alfa
- New Zealand: DB Breweries, Duncan founders, Lion Nathan
- Italy: Birra Moretti, Peroni, Forst
- Spain: San Miguel, Estrella Galicia, Alhambra
- France: Kronenbourg 1664, Pelforth, 3 Monts
- Poland: Żywiec, Lech, Okocim
- Canada: Molson Canadian, Labatt, Keiths
- Australia: Victoria, Foster's, Toohey's
- Japan: Asahi, Orion, Yebisu
There are hundreds of good beer brands in the world. Share with us which are the best beers, brands, and brewery styles in your opinion
Check out this documentary on how beer is brewed:
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What is the best beer in the world? Top beer types, brands and countries
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