Top breweries to visit around the world

by Irina Vishnevskaya, Tastemaker in Residence

Photo courtesy of Paulo Eduardo Canedo Nabas via 500px , taken at Brasserie Cantillon

Photo courtesy of Paulo Eduardo Canedo Nabas via 500px , taken at Brasserie Cantillon

You might of caught wind of the fact that I love to travel and live to travel, and with my adventures in the beer industry, ( A girl in a world of burly men: my own Lean In story ) I was fortunate not only traverse the world time and time again, but also to visit many, many breweries. 

Brewery tourism is one of my favorite kinds of tourism (although my travel partners may be getting sick of getting dragged to breweries); it’s always amazing to see the craft of brewing coming alive in various cultures, and environments.

So without any further ado, after many years of painstaking research, I present you with my list of top breweries to visit all over the world: 

Brasserie Cantillon (Brussels, Belgium) 

Situated very much off the beaten path in a strange neighborhood in Brussels, you’ll likely think you’ve found the wrong place when standing outside of the nondescript building this brewery resides in. It’s old, very old, but it is still an active brewery, producing exclusively lambic beer (a sour beer that really is an acquired taste). The tour guides here are great at what they do- they lead the tour like story tellers, historians and actors. If you’ve ever seen a brewery before, this one will come as a shock, mainly because it seems to be quite dirty.  However, your guide will explain exactly why that is and why multitudes of studies have been conducted on the strains of (good) bacteria found in this brewery. It’s a mind-blowing visit and one I highly recommend to spice up any visit to Brussels. 

Heineken brewery (Amsterdam, Holland) 

Located in central Amsterdam, this brewery is the former (and original location) for Heineken beer. Though beer is no longer brewed here, the original brewery is well maintained, and the tour does a great job of explaining beer brewing as well as a fair bit of history about the Heineken brand and the history behind its marketing and rise as a world-renowned beer. Honestly, it’s incredibly commercial and not at all unique or craft, but it’s very well done as a museum and very interactive, engaging and all-around interesting (though it may feel like a bit of brainwashing at times). This certainly should be one of your stops if you ever find yourself in Amsterdam.

New Belgium brewery (Fort Collins, Colorado) 

Many American craft beer snobs will tell you that New Belgium beer can hardly be called craft, as they produce a ton of beer, but this highly modern and new brewery is really a lot of fun to visit. Bikes are a common theme, and you will appreciate the fine artistic touch that is spread throughout this brewery. The monstrosity, the design, and the attention to detail at this brewery is impressive and definitely well worth the visit. 

Pilsner Urquell (Pilsen, Czech Republic)  

The original home to one of the most famous styles of beer in the world, the town of Pilsen, just a short drive from Prague, lives and thrives off of a beer which is its namesake. What’s amazing about this brewery is that it has maintained its location throughout its history, so walking through the grounds of the brewery is literally like walking progressively through history. You will learn about what it is that makes beer brewed in this town so special as well as what it takes to ensure every batch of beer is brewed true to the original style. Another perk of the tour is that you will get to taste the unfiltered, unpasteurized version of Pilsner Urquell, which is literally impossible anywhere outside of the brewery because the beer would go bad, and it’s absolutely delicious. 

Plan your trips around these breweries, and go go go! Feel free to contact me anytime if you need any help figuring out logistics or information.

Photo courtesy of Paulo Eduardo Canedo Nabas via 500px , taken at Brasserie Cantillon