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Five Countries, Five Days, Five Beers to Remember

Five Countries, Five Days, Five Beers to Remember

A tour of the central region of Europe, to be fair, would take weeks to fully encompass and enjoy the scenic beauty, the wonderful people, the extraordinary food, and some of the finest beers in the world. In a brief five day whirlwind tour in search of some great brews, a few superior examples stand out – partially because of their uniqueness, mostly because of their high quality, but universally because these fine beers are so closely interwoven into the fabric of their places of origin.


Starting from Munich, a visit to Salzburg, Austria, about 90 miles to the east is a must. Considered by many to be one of the most scenic cities in Europe, the Altstadt, or "old town” in Salzburg is a spectacular sight, dominated by baroque towers, church steeples and the famed Mirabell Palace of “Sound of Music” fame. The Stiegl Brewery in Salzburg was established in 1492, and is the largest privately owned brewery in Austria, though all production is at this single location.

Located in a district called the Maxglan, Stiegl uses mostly local ingredients and pristine spring water from the local Untersberg mountain to produce award winning brews. Home to the World of Brewing museum, visitors can experience, and most importantly, taste as many as ten of the beer that keep Stiegl at the top of the Austrian beer consumers’ lists.


A half an hour from Salzburg by train, and back in Germany, is the Bavarian village of Traunstein, home to three local breweries a short walk from the train station.

Dark beer lovers will be in alpine heaven here. The Hofbräuhaus brewery produces outstanding dark beers, but also blends wheat and barly to make one of the best Weiss beers anywhere. Their "Gastro Weiss" is a rich, tasty memorable brew served only at the brewery.

This special brew is reserved only for certain restaurant accounts and is not bottled for public sale. Another local Traunstein brewery, Wochinger, makes excellent beer and features an attractive biergarten where they serve very good fare to go with their beers.


Traveling south across the Alps by train to Northern Italy – Del Nord - the wondrous visual experience of the Lake Como region is revealed. In the small village of Lurago Marinone, visit the legendary brewpub called Agostini Arioli at Birrificio Italiano. From this brewery a wide assortment of beers ranging from pilsner to various fruit beers with local appeal.

Best known is their Tipopils, an unfiltered, cloudy pilsner that confuses pilsner fans who argue that pilsner should be sparkling clear. A taste will change the minds of the most stalwart aficionados. Tipopils is fresh tasting and delicious.


From Del Nord, travel northwest through Switzerland to visit the town of Sainte-Croix where a newcomer in the European brewing establishment has made microbrewery history. The Brasserie Trois Dames, just over ten years old, has earned notable acclaim for producing heady, deep flavored brews inspired by German brewmasters and the genius of owner Raphael Mettler. A universal favorite is the Oud Bruin – a rich, dark, fruity brew with tastes of apricot and caramel and a slight balsamic finish.


Beer in France? But, of course! A stone’s throw from the Belgian border in tiny Gussignies, France a restaurant called “Au Baron” serves up mouthwatering Avesnois-style food with friendly service and outstanding beer they make in the kitchen with old-style copper brewing equipment. The Au Baron turns out three hand-crafted varieties of artisanal ales: blonde, amber, and brown. Known to locals as the Brasserie Bailleux, this microbrewery is renowned for its “Cuvée des Jonquilles,” a stellar brew of Franco-Belgian origin that is a fresh farmhouse ale with faint hints of wet hay, fresh mown grass, and yeast. Malty hops add another layer of complexity to this fine brew, best enjoyed in the bucolic country environment where the beer is made.


In a corner of the mind, the most pleasurable experiences of our lives are stored away to be retrieved, time and again, for the pleasure of reliving special times, in special places, with special people. Only a tiny fragment of the fine brews made on the Continent could be discovered in five days, and each individual will make his or her own memories. For beer lovers, a visit to Europe should be on every bucket list. Be assured, your bucket will runneth over.

Jason Kane loves to travel the world looking for the perfect beer. He uses Travel Docs for all of his documentation needs.

Location (Map)

Salzburg, Austria
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