The Czech Republic is many things – it’s history, architecture, art…and it’s beer. The country is the birthplace of the pilsner and Prague has long had a reputation as the beer capital of the world. Beer, which often costs less than a bottle of water, is for sale in every nook and cranny of the historic and architecturally diverse city. Beer is even an option as part of value meals at Burger King (no joke). And, for those who love beer so much they want to bathe in it, there are Beer Spas and beer soaps that offer just that. From cavernous halls to street kiosks – and at every café, bar and restaurant in between – it takes little effort to find beer in Prague. However, we weren’t just looking for any beer – we were in search of craft beer in Prague.
In a dimly lit room, the wooden floor creaks and a fire crackles in the corner fireplace as a business-mannered bartender fills dimpled glass mugs with tepid cask ale. This is the scene in a typical London pub – and could accurately describe any one of the thousands of pubs in the city (yes, thousands). Classic pubs are a staple in London; a throwback to a bygone era that remains oddly fashionable in the present-day metropolis. (Read about our Classic Pub Crawl along the River Thames.) However, there is an alternative beer scene brewing in London: small craft breweries are opening throughout the city for microbrew consumption. Differentiating themselves from characteristic London pubs, the small batch breweries are often informal and industrial. Determined to get a good taste of the burgeoning scene, we joined hipsters and beer lovers for a self-guided London Craft Beer Crawl on the Bermondsey Beer Mile.
Before we arrived in Belgrade, Serbia, we had a few expectations. We expected a busy city. We expected Communist-era architecture. We expected signs in Cyrillic. What we didn’t expect was to find craft beer bars in Belgrade – but we did. We’re not talking about a hard-to-find pub listing just one or two craft beers on their menu. What we mean are bars that are dedicated to the craft beer movement – and we found five of them. In a land of watered down, mass-produced beer, it was like finding the mother lode.
Stay out of the bars. That’s the #1 tip for budget travelers visiting Iceland. The best budget tip for those wanting to imbibe in Iceland and to save money is to purchase alcohol at the duty-free shop at the airport on arrival. While we clearly fall into the Budget Traveler category, there was zero chance we were going to bypass trying a few local brews at a pub. It is, after all, our preferred method of meeting and mingling with locals. We sacrificed the budget and found 3 places to drink local beer in Reykjavik, Iceland.
We’ve said it before: We love festivals. If they involve food and beer, all the better. By chance, we’ve had the fortune of being able to partake in local events on numerous occasions during our journey, like the Cape Town Beer Fest and the Kotor Karneval. Our springtime visit to Slovenia coincided with two Ljubljana food festivals that were right up our alley: Open Kitchen and Beer & Burger.
Ljubljana Food Festivals: Open Kitchen (Odprta Kuhna)
This brilliant festival takes place every Friday in Pogacarjev Square from March until October. Chefs from local restaurants set up in booths to cook a variety of cuisine from classic to creative. The options seemed endless with traditional fare, Thai, Mexican, Argentinian, burgers and desserts on offer (just to name a few). The festival is free and each booth sets their own menu and cash-only price structure, ranging from about €2-7.
Spring is in the air. The sun is shining. The birds are chirping. And the Ljubljana cafe culture is bustling with outdoor cafes along the river in full swing.
Since we arrived in Ljubljana a week ago, we’ve spent a decent amount of time joining in on the Ljubljana café culture. Whether for a cup of coffee, a glass of wine or a local craft beer, a seat at a café offers some fantastic people watching and an opportunity to do one of Ljubljana’s best activities: sit back and enjoy the surroundings.
We’re going to let you in on a not-so-little secret: We like beer. And, we love craft beer. And right now, Nova Runda craft brew from Zagreb, Croatia is pretty high on our list.
During our 11 months of travel, we’ve tried a hefty number of brews around the world. We’ve been fortunate to stumble on a couple of cities where the craft brew revolution is in full swing, like in Bariloche, Argentina, Wellington, New Zealand and Cape Town, South Africa. In Vietnam, it’s hard to be too critical of 25 cent “fresh beer” made daily. Since we’ve arrived in Europe, we’ve found plenty of ‘new to us’ beers, but in reality they are the equivalent of America’s big brewers, like Budweiser, Coors and Miller. And, then we got to Zagreb, Croatia, home of Nova Runda Craft Brewery.
We didn’t have high expectations for the bars in Lecce, Italy. It is a small, historic town that markets its architecture more than its nightlife. Being in the middle of a lesser-known wine region, we knew wine would be flowing, but we weren’t sure what we would find in the way of craft beer and cocktails. With our fun-time friends in town and my reluctance to stay in one location too long, we have discovered a multitude of imbibing establishments.
Bars in Lecce, Italy: Birra
We have a knack for finding beer meccas, but don’t let that get you excited, Lecce isn’t one of them. Italy isn’t exactly known for its beer production, but craft brew is certainly on the rise. We found more than a few bars in Lecce, Itay serving up pints of goodness along with fun times.
I love festivals, but I rate beer festivals as being supreme. When we learned that the Cape Town Festival of Beer was happening at the same time we were visiting, there was no way we were going to miss it. The event, held at Cape Town’s Hamilton Rugby Club on Green Point, spanned three days, but we blocked just two days for the event – one for the festival and one for recovery.
Since we’re at an age when hanging with the youngsters at a beer event is likely to cause severe liver injury and/or irritation, we chose to go to the Cape Town Festival of Beer on Sunday in hopes of fewer crowds and chill vibes. Beer was flowing from 10am until 7pm and we heeded the advice of the promoters and arrived early, getting there at 11am.
We only had a quick three-night stay in Brisbane, our last stop in Australia before heading to Southeast Asia. We decided to stay smack in the middle of the CBD (Central Business District) so that we could start each day in the heart of the action. By far the biggest city we’ve been in since Sydney, the densely packed downtown is full of high rises, a few sights and a thriving restaurant and bar scene. Although quieter on the weekend, we took the opportunity to venture out a little and see what lies beyond the CBD. We spent a Sunday in Brisbane on a boat ride, in South Bank and in search of craft brew.