Summer in Europe is a beer lovers paradise. When the sun is out and there's more of the day gone than there is to come, Europe spills out on to the terraces and the surrounding streets of bars and cafes from Reykjavik to Nicosia. It's a wonderful time to share a half or two with friends.
For many, it's Europe myriad beer festivals that provide the perfect opportunity to get acquainted with some of the thousands of beers brewed on the continent and experience a little culture to boot. To arm yourself with a little background on some of Europe's finest amber offerings check out, European Beer: a Beginner's Guide, then plot your European beer festival adventure.
In the Czech Republic capital of Prague, the locals have been enjoying a Pilsener since Wenceslas was a boy. Although — since their inclusion into the European Union — prices for a pint of have been on the incline, Prague is still a beer-lovers Mecca. Each May for 17 days and 17 nights, dozens of the Czech Republic's most renowned breweries offer up their finest during the annual Czech Beer Festival. Hearty central European fare, traditionally dressed waitresses, ice cold suds served in heavy glass mugs — could the true beer aficionado ask for more?
Each August, a little further southeast in Belgrade, the Serbs lay out the welcome mat for their behemoth of a beer fest; the Belgrade Beer Festival. Recognised as the largest beer festival in Southeastern Europe, since 2003 the Belgrade Beer Festival has attracted more than 6.7 million beer lovers from all over Europe and beyond, who have taken in more than 530 music performances and tasted more than 130 brands of beer on offer. And best of all, entry is free. Živeli!
Ah Belgium, how does such a small country produce so many amazing beers? Why not ask a Belgian? Over three days each September, Brussels' magnificent Grand Place provides a stunning backdrop for the Belgian Beer Weekend. With more than 400 brews on offer and plenty of Belgians to question, you can make it your personal mission to get to the bottom of one of beer's best kept secrets.
Before a slightly larger Bavarian beer fest hogs the European beer festival limelight — down the road in Munich come October (there's a hint right there in the month) — the Kulmach Beer Week attracts its fair share of beer connoisseurs each July. Situated on the edge of the Thuringian Forest, what the Kulmach Beer Week lacks in size and certainly makes it for in atmosphere. Tackle the local Kulminator 28 if you dare.
Back in the UK, the Campaign for Real Ale's, Great British Beer Festival (GBBF) sets up shop in the magnificent Olympia Exhibition Centre for five days each August. Featuring a selection of 450 odd beers from British breweries on top of 200 foreign brews — including selections from Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and the US — the GBBF has been attracting tens of thousands of beer enthusiasts since 1975. There's plenty of pub grub, live music and a selection of traditional pub games to keep you entertained between rounds.