USA!! USA!! Or how to appreciate American beer vs. European beer

Posted: November 18, 2014 by amyotravel in Beercation Destinations

Editor’s note: AmyO got back from Europe recently and shared some pictures and tales of her travels. She wrote this on Sunday (see below), but it was delayed until today due to work schedules and the like. We’ll have more from her trip this Thursday (hopefully). — Stoutmeister

Czech beer doesn't quite measure up to the varieties here in the USA.

Czech beer doesn’t quite measure up to the varieties here in the USA.

I just spent a couple of wonderful weeks in Europe. Since I am a self-professed alco-traveler, I was looking forward to all the beer that I could come home and lovingly describe to readers. Now I feel a little stuck because I am trying to figure out how to write a non-story. It’s not that we didn’t drink our share of beer. We did, and often in large liter mugs. But, particularly on the first part of the trip, there wasn’t much to “write home about.”

For the most part in the Czech Republic there is always a choice of light or dark lager. Pilsners abound and they are very proud of them! People in the Czech Republic drink a LOT of beer. But to be honest, I really couldn’t tell one from the next. Granted, we only had a couple of days in each city and we probably could have found better beers if we had more time. We found a brewery that claimed to have craft beers so we were excited. They were actually flavored beers that were quite possibly the worst beers I have ever had. The one called “caramel” smelled and tasted like cake frosting. Coming from the western United States, where we enjoy the riches of excellent craft beer in many varieties, combined with the extremely low alcohol content and (let’s just say delicate) flavor of most Czech beer made for some pretty bored beer travelers.

German beer halls are an experience beyond just what's in your glass.

German beer halls are an experience beyond just what’s in your glass.

We had hoped to visit Pilsner Urquell because the train from Prague to Munich stops in Pilsen. But the train schedule did not allow for a short stop; you had to spend a half day and then we would get in to Munich later than we wanted. So instead, we walked across the Vltava River in Prague and toured Staropramen Brewery — the second largest Czech brewery. It is an impressive operation and in the tasting room they did have their “special” beer which was a very light wheat. It was better than the classic or dark lager, in my opinion, so that’s what I got for the pint that comes with paying for the tour.

Germany brought some much needed relief from the flavor drought. I drank many dunkels, weizens, and dunkelweizens. The beer halls in Munich are so much fun. However, a couple of days of sweet, cloudy beers made me even thirstier for hops. Our trip ended in Amsterdam, so at least the beers continued to get a little stronger. We went to Delirium Café in Amsterdam because they have over 500 beers. Unfortunately, the service was so horrendously bad, and we had to catch a boat back to the area of town where we were staying, that we were only able to have one beer there. We toured Heineken, and just like at Staropramen, we “learned” all about bottom fermentation and how they perfected their own famous strain of yeast. And of course it’s the best in the world! OK, sure …

When in Holland, you pretty much have to stop here.

When in Holland, you pretty much have to stop here.

I do love to travel and I had an amazing time. Prague is an outstanding city. Munich feels sort of familiar, and Amsterdam is complete sensory overload. But I am already always impressed with the number and quality of beers available here at home and I have never missed them quite so much. Speaking of, today is Sunday. That means there is football (not soccer! — not that there’s anything wrong with that) on TV and a Santa Fe Black IPA currently calling my name in the fridge.

Oh, and coming up soon, one very interesting beer (related) find in Prague …

Prost!

— AmyO

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