Bob and Ellie Tupper’s experience drinking beer in Europe started casually enough. As a high school history teacher, Bob Tupper used the trips to explore his educational interests, and the couple together sought out new beers to try in each of their destinations. But Tupper can be “compulsive about some things,” he told The Cheat Sheet, so he and his wife began taking notes on each of the beers they were trying, eventually building a database to track their selections. Along the way, Ellie Tupper kept a diary of the places they visited.
Today, the database contains information about more than 28,000 brews from all across the United States and Europe, and that diary became a stepping stone to the couple writing Drinking in the Culture: Tupper’s Guide to Exploring Great Beers in Europe, the couple’s first book about the best places to drink a beer while on a European excursion. The Tuppers have built a reputation for themselves as being the “original beer geeks” of Washington, D.C., where Bob Tupper has hosted beer tastings and lectured on beer since 1984. His first beer tasting, hosted by the legendary Brickskeller restaurant, is said to have shown the true potential of what beer tastings could be – giving the Tuppers the street cred necessary to create their own brews.
The guide to great beer spots in Europe
Now, the Tuppers have released a book that compiles more than 30 years of experience in tasting beer and traveling to Europe. “We’ve worn out a lot of pair of shoes doing this,” Bob Tupper said in an interview. The book combines travel tips the Tuppers have put into practice over the past few decades, along with the best places to drink a beer in 24 of Europe’s best beer cities. They’ve spent the past several years perfecting their recommendations, taking one or two trips per year back to Europe to make sure their list is comprehensive. The book contains pubs and beer gardens in cities already known for their beer, including London and Munich, but also some that people might be surprised to see in the book, including Hamburg, Germany and Milan, Italy.
It can be difficult to find good beer in Switzerland, Tupper said, where most of the good brews are imported from neighboring countries. “But with that exception, there’s great beer if you ask some questions and dig around for it,” he said.
Though the Tuppers do make some beer recommendations throughout the book, it’s much more about the experience you’ll find in each of these places. “The beers will change,” Tupper said. “Varying flavors is what it’s all about.” But by drinking in brewpubs that have been around for hundreds of years, you’ll have an experience that you won’t get in the United States. “You can experience tradition and culture and beer all at the same time,” Tupper said.
Whether you’re a beer lover looking to take your passion on the road or you already have a trip to Europe on the books, take a look at the best places to drink a beer when you go.
10. The Sheffield Tap in Sheffield, England
One thing the Tuppers discovered in their travels is that good beer can be found in many train stations. The Sheffield Tap is one of the best, featuring about 30 casks and drafts – some of which highlight selections from local and relatively obscure breweries. “You could get on the train and go visit some of them … or just stay put and spend more time sampling them,” Tupper wrote in the list.
9. Delirium Village in Brussels, Belgium
According to the Tuppers, the beer list in the downstairs bar of Delirium Village (in the café) is more massive than typical telephone books, with more than 2,500 selections available. “Some are vintages from breweries that went out of business long ago — you have the feeling you’re drinking beer from a dead star,” Tupper writes. An upstairs loft bar specializes in craft selections, where you can trust the wise bar staff to help you make the right choice.
8. The Brewery Museum in Bruges, Belgium
This museum features two stories of beer-related exhibits with an interactive computer guide to get your fill of interesting beer facts. But the tasting room at the end of the walk-through steals the show, the Tuppers write. “It has a great view of the historic square below and a wide range of Palm and Palm-related beers. Some of the beers are extremely rare — you’ll find at least a few you haven’t tried.”
7. Gaststätte Spitalgarten in Regensburg, Germany
The wait for a waterside table at this location is worth it, the Tuppers attest. The garden is on site of a historical hospital that has been in operation since the Middle Ages, and gives a wonderful view of the Danube and the ancient Stone Bridge. “Good basic food and a small range of very pleasant house brews would be less memorable in a less memorable setting, but this is always our first evening each time we return,” Tupper said.
6. Færgekroen Bryghus in Copenhagen, Denmark
This small brewpub is located on a lake in Tivoli Gardens, what the Tuppers call the world’s most beautiful amusement park. “Just a stroll through this Danish fantasyland is worth the price of admission; you’ll forget you’re anywhere near a big city,” Tupper said. Plan your trip to spend at least part of a night there, since the Tuppers highly recommend taking in the fireworks and light shows that happen almost every Saturday night. The pub has a good selection of beer, but the setting it what vaults this location into the top 10.
5. Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese in London, England
This pub doesn’t have the largest selection compared to some of its neighbors, but it does have some of the best history in town. Small rooms, snugs, and corridors wander down several levels from the narrow passageway at 145 Fleet Street, and legend has it that monks brewed on the site before it became a pub. Samuel Johnson and Charles Dickens drank here, so you’ll be sharing a brew with history at this stop.
4. Der Pschorr in Munich, Germany
Der Pschorr is one of the most entertaining brewery restaurants in Munich, the Tuppers write. Tupper paints a picture this way:
A supporting cast offers a virtual ballet, as waitstaff pirouette under loaded trays of beer and food, but the beer is the focal event. Several times a night, wooden barrels (sized to require frequent changing) are muscled up onto the bar. The barman then hammers in a brass spigot and releases the first half dozen glasses of galloping foam.
The prices are a bit higher than you’ll find elsewhere, but the Tuppers stand by their choice because of the locally sourced menu.
3. Monastery Aldersbach in Aldersbach, Germany
This brewery and hotel gives you a feel for the simple life, though with great beer to boot. Beer is best consumed in the Stüberl, which Tupper describes as, “a modestly sized historic beer hall that drips with atmosphere.” Your hotel room is a former monk’s cell, updated with a more modern bathroom. If you’re looking for a genuine glimpse into history, this is the place.
2. Pilsner Urquell Brewery in Pilsen, Czech Republic
According to the Tuppers, you’ll taste the world’s best pilsner in the underground fermenting cellar at this brewery. Tupper describes it here:
Though the brewery has modernized since 1993, the miles of aging cellars that remain underground are part of the tour. A subterranean ramble ends at an open wooden fermenter and a couple of the huge wooden barrels of the type that were used to age all Pilsner Urquell. The beer from the pitch-lined superbarrel is, quite simply, the best lager beer we’ve ever tasted.
1. Augustiner BräuKloster Mülln in Salzburg, Austria
If Tupper had just four more hours to live and could choose where to spend it, “It would be with Ellie in that garden,” Tupper said. The experience changes slightly each time based on the people they meet and talk with, but it’s been a human experience each of the dozen or so times the Tuppers have made the trip. It’s one of the most welcoming and social beer gardens you’ll find, also making it the Tuppers’ selection for best beer garden in the world. “Six-euro liters of beer brewed only meters away, fresh charcoal grilled fish, and a staggering array of deli items further enrich the experience,” he writes.