If water is cheaper than beer, what do you choose? Beer. No wait, water. No, beer. Water?
It’s not an option most of us are presented with – a free glass of water is easy to come by. But in bars and taverns across the Czech Republic, the birthplace of pilsner, opting for beer is in fact often cheaper than water. But according to the Wall Street Journal, that could soon change.
Beer (and drinking in general) is a cornerstone of Czech culture, in fact Czechs drink an average of 37 gallons of beer per year, but Health Minister Leos Heger thinks the country needs healthier options and wants to require restaurants and bars to offer at least one nonalcoholic drink that is cheaper than beer.
Such a proposal sounds easy enough, but it has left some bar and tavern owners in a fit. “It ticks me off,” said Eleni Atanasopulosova, 34, the manager at U Zelenku, as quoted in the Wall Street Journal.
The deeply ingrained beer culture in the Czech Republic might not make Heger’s proposal easy to get through. For now, it haven’t even been approved by the cabinet, but if it makes it any further, it could spark some cultural controversy, pitting beer lovers against those wanting public health changes.
After all, it’s hard to change tradition – especially when it comes to beer.
Last month, the writers at Gadling spent a lot of time at the pub, creating this list of The 24 greatest cities in the world for drinking beer. We had so much fun and got so many great comments, we decided we couldn’t stop: we headed back to the bar and asked for another round. Here’s 15 more of our favorite cities in the world for drinking great beer.Did we include your favorite? Take a look.
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Edinburgh locals proudly boast to have the highest concentration of pubs of any city in Europe. Nightly pub crawls of all varieties and themes weave an intoxicated web through both the New and Old towns, dutifully infiltrating once-sleepy pubs and leaving empty pint glasses littered in their wake. If you want to get closer to the source, head over to the Caledonian Brewery, a place where beer is proudly “brewed by men, not machines.” Wellington, New Zealand
This funky little capital city at the base of New Zealand’s North Island is teeming with Kiwis who are keen for their beer. While nationally popular Monteith’s is brewed on the South Island in the sleepy town of Greymouth, Wellington Brewery still has beers ending up in the hopping bars and nightclubs lining the infamous Cuba Street. No stranger to hosting events, Wellington will open its doors in 2010 to the New Zealand Beer Festival, only serving to further the raucous bar scene this city churns out nightly.Prague, Czech Republic
Beer drinking visitors agree: there’s nothing quite like a tall stein of pivo in Praha, the traditional home of Pilsner and arguably the world’s best beer. Allegedly consuming 156 liters of beer per capita each year–the most of any nation–beer is a simple life necessity for the Czechs. Long a staple city on the European beer circuit, the glory of Czech beer is highlighted nowhere more than at the annual Czech Beer Festival, held in Prague each May. Homer, Alaska
While not exactly what many would consider a city, Homer is one of those “drinking villages with a fishing problem” that exudes nothing but good-natured charm. All of the action in town is centered around the Homer Spit, a flat outcropping of land that holds all of the town’s bars, most notably the world-famous Salty Dawg Saloon. After hauling in a 300-pound halibut, most fishermen head out to the Spit to celebrate with one of the many flavors of the Homer Brewing Company, or perhaps even an “import” from the Alaskan Brewing Company in the far away capital of Juneau.
If good beer has partners in crime, it would be good music and eager twenty-somethings ready to let it all hang out. Fortunately for anyone visiting Austin, there is absolutely no shortage of either. Host to two of the largest music festivals in the nation, Austin City Limits and South by Southwest, Austin frequently swells from the University of Texas all the way down to 6th Street with beer-battered locals and music lovers alike. A number of microbreweries are scattered around town, and with top acts and loads of talent moving through the city, the opportunity to imbibe is never far away. Phnomh Penh, Cambodia Phnomh Penh comes in on this list for one reason alone: $.25 beers on tap. Not only is a draft beer only a quarter, but the Cambodian national brew, Angkor Beer, is one of the finest lagers in all of Asia. Aside from the cheap price and the smooth taste, modern-day Phnomh Penh is lined with French cafes overlooking the mighty Mekong River, all serving obscenely cheap Angkor on draft. For those wanting to take the Angkor deep into the night, the city boasts an impressive nightclub scene, and for anyone really wanting to get creative with their drinking, every evening there are mass public aerobic sessions in the many parks across the city.
Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada
You know any beer served this close to the Arctic is going to be cold. A rugged outpost town that is known for its rough mining history and plentiful outdoor adventure opportunities, hardy souls have been putting back the beers in Whitehorse since the gold miners and prospectors first came to town. These days, the Yukon Brewing Company keeps everyone in town from going thirsty, and their Yukon Red was just recently awarded the Canadian Brewing Awards 2009 Canadian Beer of the Year.
Few cultures are as receptive to a good time as are the Aussies, and the wide beaches and deep discos of Sydney provide the perfect venue for such carefree merriment. Frowning upon their Melbourne neighbors who would rather swill Victoria Bitter, Sydney locals will proudly partake in the locally-brewed Toohey’s, most likely beach-side at Bondi between the bikinis and the BBQ.
Don’t tell anyone, but this sleepy former whaling village may or may not be the oldest town in America – the Lewes town sign proclaims it “the first town in the first state”. Lewes is home to the stellar Dogfish Head brewery, which makes a particularly good early summer beer called Aprihop. For those who typically ignore fruit-tinged beer, this brew carries enough dried-hop bite and pleasant fragrance to remind us of that time of year when the air is warm but the ground is still cold. Look west and the bay bends in a way that the sun actually sets into a watery horizon. That alone is worth the trip.
Ensenada’s colonial past creeps just below the city’s surface: Spanish architecture and design are evident everywhere, and the town is sprinkled with old missions glowing under shiny terracotta tile roofs. There’s a bar in town called Hussong’s which seems to creak and moan like an ancient sailing vessel, and whose bar is packed with taps for German beers. The place was founded by a German prospector who followed rumors of gold to Mexico in the late 1800’s and never left. This is also the place to savor a Schloss Eggenberg Urbock 23– if you don’t know what that is, maybe it’s time to strap that old waxy shortboard to the roof and drive south for a couple hours.
Toronto is a city best viewed from on high, the ideal spot being the CN Tower, which attracts 2 million visitors annually. It’s the kind of view that can make the bottom of your feet tingle, and by the time you return to solid ground, you’ll be ready for a cold one. If you’ve only had Canadian beers in green bottles, you’ve missed the rich variety our northern neighbors have to offer: Unibroue Brewing makes beer called Maudite which has a deep copper color and a pert aroma of wild spices and floral hop notes. It’s a complex brew, deep and intoxicating in taste and smell. They also make a white ale, Blanche de Chambly, which sounds like something Austin Powers would say, but satiates thirsty travelers in a way that no beer with a “moose on the label” ever could.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
This desert town that has become synonymous with Pale Ale is a beer drinker’s delight. Hot, dry, and handsome, the town teems with artistry, old hippie money and raw desert beauty. Few experiences stimulate the senses like watching the sun rise across the desert floor while the light paints a mural of reds blues and oranges. Best to see it after staying up all night drinking Santa Fe State Pen Porter, a smoky and mysterious experience that compliments the desert night air.
Boulder, Colorado has a reputation as the “church of the outdoors” – when people aren’t hiking, they’re skiiing. And they’re young: the median age is 29, a time when your body is best suited to burning off those extra beer carbs. Boulder is home to the state’s first microbrewery, Boulder Beer Company, whose products include a dry-hopped ale called Hazed and infused for it’s multiple hop aromas that result from introducing the hops late in the brewing process. The bar also sports a “Magical Mystery Tap” which seems to exist solely to tempt the thrill-seeker within each of us.
Portsmouth New Hampshire
If you like seafood, but have never eaten at a northeastern lobster shack, you haven’t had the full experience. Along the coasts of Maine and new Hampshire, there are smallish, greying buildings that serve pots of steamed seafood right from on the dock. Portsmouth in particular has a number which carry the local brewer Smuttynose. Known for their Big Beer Series, few epicurean experiences compare with the steamy smell of lobster and clams alongside a big mug of Farmhouse Ale.
North Hollywood, California
A place where weird is normal and the absurd is commonplace, you’re as likely to see Flea bouncing a basketball down Otsega toward the park as you are to see a homeless guy wearing a red dress. It’s happy hour all day long here, and the neighborhood moniker “NoHo Arts district” seems to have multiple levels of meanings. As in Europe, a cold beer isn’t usually frowned on at lunch, and it’s easy to slip into that hazy way of thinking, maybe after three of Mendocino Brewing Company’sRed Seal Ales, continuing the charade that is North Hollywood is still a good idea.
Getting some beer in New York City would seem like a simple task. You walk into one of the city’s thousands of bars, grocery stores or bodegas and you’ll have a frosty beverage in your hand within seconds. But if you’re a true beer lover, any old lukewarm can of Pabst just isn’t going to cut it. Would you go out of your way for a great Belgian, a crazy-good craft beer or marvelous microbrew? Then New York’s the beer city for you.
New York City residents have been brewing beer for over 300 years, ever since the city was flooded with the stuff by beer-loving Dutch, Irish and German settlers. By the 19th Century the industry was thriving – Brooklyn alone had 45 beer makers and produced one fifth of all the nation’s beer. Remarkably by the 1970’s, the industry had all but dried up. Yet something is once again brewing in the Big Apple. The once dormant brewery industry is in the midst of a remarkable resurgence, and along with it has come a renewed passion among the city’s residents for the art of making and drinking truly great beer.
Whether you’re on the hunt for an exotic Belgian brew or your favorite American lager, in search of something local or thirsting for a taste of lands far away, you’ll find a beer for you in New York. Ready to visit some of the city’s most unique beer bars? Interested in taking a tour of Brooklyn brewing history? Grab yourself a glass – this week, Undiscovered New York is headed in search of New York’s best beer. The Best Bars When you’re thirsting for a really great beer, not just any old bar with a Bud in the cooler is going to cut it. You want a place that takes its beers seriously, perhaps with a little local culture thrown in for good measure. A good example would be the Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden in Queens.This former Czech and Slovak social club oozes with local charm, great beer and a great summer beer garden to boot.
Meanwhile, Manhattan beer-lovers favor such spots as Vol de Nuit, a Belgian beer bar, Jimmy’s No. 43 in the East Village and The Room, a non-descript spot with a killer selection of suds. If you’re out in Brooklyn, head to bars like the rowdy Radegast, or the British-beer favorite Chip Shop on Atlantic Avenue.
Beer Breweries + Tours Perhaps the idea of just drinking a few high-quality beers isn’t good enough? Fear not, New York also has some great beer tours that will take you inside the city’s most famous breweries, offer tastings and teach you about the New York’s illustrious beer history.
The first place to start is the Brooklyn Brewery – the now famous beer maker runs part of its operation in the Borough’s Greenpoint neighborhood. They offer 4 tours each Saturday and Sunday, tastings included. For a more in-depth look at Brooklyn’s brewing history, check out the team at Urban Oyster, who run the Brewed in Brooklyn Walking Tour. In addition to visiting the old Brewers’ Row in East Williamsburg, the tour also makes a stop at the Brooklyn Brewery. Sixpoint Craft Ales is another well-known Brooklyn brewer based in Red Hook. Though the brewers don’t have any formalized tour schedule, rumor has it passionate beer-lovers can email the company to inquire about brewery visits.
Beer Groups+ Events Not only is New York a great place to drink and learn about beer, it’s also host to plenty of beer focused events and tastings. Beer organizations like the New York City Beer Guide provide listings of some of the city’s best beer bars and breweries. They’ve also got a rundown of upcoming beer events.
If you happen to be coming to New York City this September, make sure to check out the 2nd annual NY Craft Beer Week, beer walks, special food and beer pairing menus and a beer speaker series.
The world is definitely about to get fully automated any day now. Just yesterday, I blogged about a German restaurant that’s based solely on automated service: no waiters, no tipping.
Today, I have a new culinary efficiency concept for you: the self-tapping pub. Leave it up to the Czechs–the world’s biggest beer consumers per capita–to invent a pub, where you don’t even need a waiter to get your beer. What waste of time!
The customers at “The Pub“, as the automated pub is actually called, can tap Pilsner Urquell beer from brewer Plze??ský Prazdroj at their tables, and a computer device on the tap keeps track of the standings of all tables in beer drinking. The scores are then projected onto a screen in the bar, Czech Business Weekly reports. The system enables customers to keep track of the beer drinking scores of all tables not only in the bar they are in, but also in all bars of the same chain across the Czech Republic. So far, they have branches in Prague, Pilsen, Hradec Kralove, Brno, Liberec, Karlovy Vary and Tabor.
The bars have Web cameras so that customers can see their competitors in different bars in the chain. They can also select which bar they would like to be in a beer drinking contest with and can send short messages via small screens on the tap. Needles to say, being able to see how much everyone else is drinking only promotes the competitive spirit among the pub guests. And that, I guess, is the idea.
The concept, started by two 24-year-old Czech men three years ago, has been been a smashing success in the Czech Republic. The chain might apparently soon be expanding to Poland, Russia and Italy.