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The Top Destinations for the Best Beer

Beer guru Stephen Beaumont discusses the best places in the world to grab a cold one

Three pints of beer held by different hands in the midst of a cheers

Toronto author Stephen Beaumont has spent nearly three decades travelling in search of the world’s best beers. Now, Beaumont has distilled all that he’s learned into a new book, Will Travel for Beer: 101 Remarkable Journeys Every Beer Lover Should Experience.

We recently caught up with Beaumont, who shared six unique places to go for a pint.

Stephen Beaumont holding a bruges beer glass filled with beer

The cherry on top of craft beers: New Glarus, Wisconsin, U.S.A.

This small town about two hours outside Milwaukee is home to the New Glarus Brewing Company, a family-run outfit renowned for its craft beers. Among the most popular is the Wisconsin Belgian Red, which contains a pound of fresh cherries in every 750-millilitre bottle. “It’s an unapologetically fruity beer, but it’s no soda pop,” Beaumont says.

Pro tip: After visiting the brewery, grab a pint at Puempel’s Olde Tavern, a nearby pub that opened in 1893.

Oktoberfest, Brazil-style: Blumenau, Brazil 

Founded by German settlers in 1850, this city is a slice of Bavaria in the tropics, with alpine-style houses and one of the world’s biggest Oktoberfests outside of Munich. The festival’s beer gardens, dance halls and array of craft and mass-market beers attract tens of thousands of people.

Pro tip: The 2018 festivities run from October 3 to 21 and include a mix of free and ticketed events.

The people’s choice of beers: Hanoi, Vietnam

Bia hoi is the name of both a light, sugary beer and the ramshackle streetside bars where it’s sold. Beaumont says the beer itself isn’t great. But sipping one, usually while sitting on a tiny plastic chair surrounded by friendly locals, is a hoot. “There’s so much of this book that is not just about the beer, but the experience,” he says. “That’s definitely the big thing about bia hoi.”

Pro tip: Some bia hoi could leave you with stomach troubles. Ask your hotel for a reliable option.

A pub that feels like home away from home: Edinburgh, Scotland

The Bow Bar stands above other Edinburgh pubs with an ornate wooden bar and classic bench seating that exude picture-perfect charm. “The Bow is the kind of bar [that] if you weren’t looking for it, you would walk right past it,” Beaumont says. “But once you get into it, the temptation is not to leave, ever.”

Pro tip: The Bow also has a strong selection of whisky.

Fly to your next beer flight: Brisbane, Australia

A pub crawl doesn’t have to involve walking in Brisbane, where, for about $1,000 Australian, you can take a helicopter from tavern to tavern. The bars you’ll visit aren’t necessarily the best, says Beaumont; they’re chosen largely because they can accommodate a helicopter. But the experience, he says, is “cool.”

Pro tip: You can also hop between wineries or golf courses in the helicopter.

Sip at a high-altitude brewery: Squamish, B.C.

Just off the Sea to Sky Highway, the Howe Sound Brewery & Inn serves up top-notch ales and lagers. But what makes it unique is the setting: Howe Sound sits amid the snow-capped Rocky Mountains, close to a rock wall popular with climbers. “You can sit there, enjoy your beer and watch other people exercise, which is always kind of fun,” Beaumont says.

Pro tip: Free brewery tours run daily at 1 p.m., reservations are recommended.

Looking to eat (and drink) well on your travels without breaking the bank?

Check out these five unexpected delights of B.C.’s Ale Trail and find out how to save money on food when you travel.

No matter where your taste buds take you, protect your plans with travel insurance from CAA.

CAA wants to remind everyone about the importance of not drinking and driving. Have a plan. We all need to be responsible while having a great time.

Image credit: Instants and Micha Dahan