DESTINATIONS • April 2018
From pale lagers on Bavarian mountainsides to a distinct Finnish ale served with a sauna on the side, beer buff Stephen Beaumont has seen (and drunk) it all. Here, the globe-trotting expert reveals the best of the barrel
In Brazil, one of the most exciting beer markets in all of Latin American, brewers are making particular use of Amazonian fruits and woods in many of their more extraordinary beers. You can find the best of them at neighbourhood bar Frangó, in São Paulo. This is the kind of bar you walk into, and after five minutes you feel like it’s your local. It’s completely unexceptional from the outside, but once you begin to explore within it suddenly explodes into this labyrinth of little rooms and alcoves. You realise it’s actually quite enormous, with a great authentic atmosphere.
What to order: Amburana lager produced by Brazil’s Way Brewery. The amburana wood gives a kind of cinnamon flavour, which made this the first Amazon-inspired beer to really grab my attention.
Montreal emerged very early on as the heart of creativity in Canadian brewing. It’s also where you’ll uncover one of my favourite craft breweries, Dieu du Ciel! in the Plateau-Mont-Royal. This place has a real reputation for outstanding creativity and interesting ingredients, be it peppercorn rye beers, hibiscus flower wheat beers, or its IPA made with kumquats. The brewery is on display, so get there in the afternoon before the crowds descend and watch the brewers at work behind the glass enclosure.
What to order: The Route des Épices – you wouldn’t think a beer made with peppercorns would be very nice, but I assure you it’s tremendous.
One of my most remarkable beer experiences may seem the strangest, but is certainly not beyond replication. First you need to head to the Sahti Belt in southern Finland, where the Sahti style of Finnish beer drinking originates. Made without hops, Sahti is designed to be drunk fresh, and in conjunction, traditionally enough, with a Finnish wood-smoked sauna. As soon as you’re suitably sudoriferous, it’s time to hop out of the sauna and drink the Sahti from a haarikka – a large, two-handled vessel – before heading back inside to repeat all over again. You might even want to add in the final step, as I did, with a dip in the freezing cold lake.
What to order: Lammin Sahti operates a store at the shopping centre in the town of Tuulos, a two-hour drive from Helsinki. Buy a bottle of Sahti there, then head off to find your own sauna.
Remember when I said Brazil had one of the most exciting beer cultures in Latin America? Mexico is the most exciting. With such a buzzing, emerging beer market, you inevitably have brewers who don’t completely know what they’re doing yet, but alongside that comes other, remarkably exciting, beer experiences – and they all come together at the Cerveza beer festival in Mexico City. Whether it’s a Mexican imperial stout with chocolate and pepper infusions, or tequila-influenced aged beers, you’ll find all the best emerging craft beer trends right here.
What to order: Mexican imperial stout, from Calavera brewery.
From Munich, take the S8 train out of the city to Herrsching, then either embark on a 40-minute hike or ride the 951 bus up to one of the best beer-drinking viewpoints in the world – the Andechs Monastery. On top of a scenic Bavarian hillside, it has its own brewery and is very popular with Münchners taking weekend breaks from the city. As taking your own food to beer gardens is permitted by law in Bavaria, you’ll spot these city folk bringing their picnic baskets and snacks ready for an afternoon atop the hill. Overlooking the Alps beyond, it truly is one of the most beautiful places you can go to drink beer.
What to order: A Spezial Hell (hell in this instance meaning ‘pale’) with its delicious, dry malt body – a must-buy from the monastery brewers.
Will Travel For Beer by Stephen Beaumont (Octopus Books, £14.99) is out 5 April, 2018