Best area to travel to for social aspects of beer

Discussion in 'Rest of the World' started by buggyboo, Oct 23, 2016.

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  1. buggyboo

    buggyboo Initiate (0) Dec 24, 2015 Missouri

    Hello all. I'm considering going to Europe for the first time next year. In my many travels around the US and Canada, of all my experiences the best are with locals... it gives me a vibe of what life it like in an area. Oddly enough much of that revolves around beer for me. I guess what I'm asking here is before I make plans, where in Europe is the most social drinkers? I know Belgium makes some of the best beer but would I be meeting tourists there and not locals? I want to drink, eat, etc what the locals do... was considering Germany (was told to avoid Oktoberfest in Munich because it is expensive and touristy). Hopefully a few on here would like to meet up for a pint if I chose their location. Hopefully this isn't a violation for some sort of draconian hipster, as beer is a very good social lubricant... I'm sure many good pubs can be recommended for this sort of thing... I have waited too long to go to Europe and can't wait to mingle with some locals...
  2. Malt_Man

    Malt_Man Initiate (0) Jul 4, 2014 England

    Every time I have been to Germany (Berlin, Munich, Dusseldorf, Cologne, Bamberg), locals in pubs have always struck up a conversation with me and my group. Bamberg less so than the others, but I think that is because less people there speak English.
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  3. einhorn

    einhorn Aspirant (224) Nov 3, 2005 California

    Tough question. I think that with any sort of travelling, it has a lot to do with luck of the draw. But for all intents & purposes, the south of Germany tends to be "friendlier" than the north. Biergärten in and around Munich are great, and if you are looking to meet more like-minded people, I would suggest the Hofbräuhaus in Munich...otherwise, I think it's really going to depend on who you may encounter along your travels.
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  4. Ostpies

    Ostpies Initiate (0) Nov 3, 2015 New Zealand (Aotearoa)

    Germany and the Netherlands. It also depends on the kind of beers you like.
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  5. aleigator

    aleigator Poo-Bah (2,500) May 10, 2014 Germany
    Society Trader

    I'll vote for the Rhineland region in Germany, especially Düsseldorf and Cologne. While the one city clearly doesn't brew on the same level as the other one, people in both cities are remarkable friendly and open minded for german standards.

    Also the area is a good example for combining traditional beer with new wave "craft" brewing.
  6. Lurchus

    Lurchus Initiate (191) Jan 19, 2014 Germany

    The question is, what does count as "social apsects" of beer culture.
    When for you, being talked to or getting directly involved in conversation by locals and sitting at the same table as the locals is what you are looking for , I'd say... avoid franconia, specifically the countryside. I don't only link this to people there not being fluent in english as was implied here, it has more to do with different local cultural conventions..
    Which does not mean there aren't strong social aspects of the drinking culture there. It's just a different type of "being social".
  7. biermark

    biermark Initiate (61) Sep 9, 2008 South Carolina

    At outdoor biergartens I have not have much interaction with table mates. Going inside, all but a few people have spoken beyond the initial free space question and greeting. A simple Prost when they or I get the first bier goes a long way.

    The long table guys at Mahrs' (knock, knock) are alot of fun...
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  8. Lurchus

    Lurchus Initiate (191) Jan 19, 2014 Germany

    The knock,knock thing is very common throughout franconia, and I really love it:wink:

    Yeah, in Mahr's or Fässla, you will be able to get a conversation, though off course not as intense and fast as in Düsseldorf or cologne.....
    But, try doing this in franconian places that aren't as used to tourists as those more famous Bamberg locations: Mann's Bräu or Becher Bräu Bayreuth, or Heckel Waischenfeld..
    Good luck.
    Again, I'm not saying those places are not all about social interaction, but that there. social interaction is not about talking as much as possible close to strangers. It works differently.
    Which in and on itself, is not a bad thing.
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  9. buggyboo

    buggyboo Initiate (0) Dec 24, 2015 Missouri

    Thanks to all for the advice. I don't want to get too sappy, but I will say this is a great time to be alive where we can see and do so much that even the elite would not be able to do centuries ago. It seems the more one travels the more one understands and in it is perhaps the final frontier for a potential world peace. Whether many choose to use it is another matter of course. Besides who honestly wants to live in a monotonous life... to me change is good. And the knowledge gained in travels is priceless, relayed more speedily by one of this world's social lubricants, beer. If ones life is a song, it is only as good as the notes one knows how to play... why repeat the same song? Off my soapbox now. Thanks again to all.
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  10. Domingo

    Domingo Poo-Bah (2,811) Apr 23, 2005 Colorado

    I don't think you'll really go wrong in Germany (especially Bavaria), Belgium, or the UK. Beer is closely tied to the day to day cultures in those countries and you can experience a little bit of that during a normal vacation.
    In Belgium it feels like beer is very tightly tied to cafes and restaurants. In the UK the local pub is like the ultimate social gathering spot. In Germany you'll find a little of both with bierhalls and biergartens/kellers.
    In terms of meeting tourists, it is what you make of it. If you're in Munich and hit up the Hofbrauhaus and halls close to Marienplatz square, you're almost certain to encounter a fair number of tourists. You'll probably have similar experiences if you're hitting pubs near Buckingham Palace or Piccadilly Circus. Planning on visiting Cantillon? There aren't many days where Americans don't outnumber the locals. That said, I've had great experiences in all of those places. Tourists and all. As long as you embrace it for what it is, it can be fun to chat with others who are essentially doing the same thing you are. Typically a local will steer to you a lesser known place if you're willing to engage them, too. I've had Germans offer borderline life changing advice for halls and biergartens to visit. Armand Debelter's wife gave us some great off the beaten path places to visit in Brussels. A beer-loving tour guide sent us to some fun places in London. It is what you make of it.
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  11. NeroFiddled

    NeroFiddled Poo-Bah (13,806) Jul 8, 2002 Pennsylvania
    Society Trader

    I'm also planning a trip to Europe and specifically searched the forums and found this one. I love to interact with others, regardless of where they're from, USUALLY, but just like everyone else I sometimes don't have the time, or just want to be left alone. Thusly, I always respect others and let them make the introduction if they want to. I have, however, run onto a few problems (the old gay man in Liverpool that kept following me, the football team from Spain with 20 or so guys trying out their English on me, etc.).

    No one has mentioned Ireland! Absolutely great craic there! Very friendly. Barcelona is beautiful and relaxed, and extremely friendly. Vienna is magical, but not as open and welcoming. Roma can also take a little bit of a jump start, but if you get them going you can't stop them! Prague I felt was a little bit more closed, and unfortunately my lack of ability to speak there didn't help. So I'll second Germany, and that's where I'm headed, though in Berlin I found most people to keep to themselves even when given an invitation (eye contact, nod, etc.). Might have just been me, or my body odor ,)

    I was originally planning for Belgium but have now decided on Germany. I'd love suggestions, especially any that include places with unusual beers. My itinerary is roughly as follows:
    • Frankfurt to Bamberg, ...Kulmbach/Bayreuth?
    • somehow south to Salzburg, Austria
    • Munich on 16 Sept. for Oktoberfest/meet family which causes a timing issue
    • Back to Frankfurt (probably need the most suggestions for this leg of the trip).

    I'll keep searching the forums for tips, but anything is appreciated - ALSO, please, I do not mean to hijack this thread, maybe send me a message and keep this about what countries have good pub interactions.
    #11 NeroFiddled, Nov 3, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2016
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  12. Lurchus

    Lurchus Initiate (191) Jan 19, 2014 Germany

    My suggestion: Avoid Kulmbach. It has a decent,pretty oldtown and the nice Plassenburg, but.. the huge brewery sits on its side like an ugly tumor and totally ruins it for me, and not only visually. Besides Kommunbräuhaus (Which is not a real traditional Kommunbrauhaus, but makes decent beers anyway), you won't really find any beers that don't come from the Kulmbacher Gruppe... Which all are not bad by any means, but compared to the stuff you usually get in franconia, are very bland and industrial. OUTSIDE of Kulmbach, there are very good breweries, like Haberstumpf/Trebgast or Schnupp/Neudrossenfeld. Sadly, you won't find a place to have them in Kulmbach itself.

    Bayreuth, on the other hand, has several traditional pubs in which to have different local beers, if you know were to look. Plus, there is a bottleshop (Flaschenfreund) and a kinda-crafty modern Maisels Pub now (Liebesbier). Plus, if you are there when Buschenschenkenzeit is, you are really in for a treat..
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  13. Malt_Man

    Malt_Man Initiate (0) Jul 4, 2014 England

  14. TreinJan

    TreinJan Initiate (0) Apr 13, 2006 Netherlands

    A place that is often overlooked: Amberg in the Oberpfalz. Something like 6 breweries for half the population of Bamberg and a beautiful old city as well.
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  15. gavinbrooksbank

    gavinbrooksbank Initiate (102) May 24, 2011 England

    yeah sorry about that, you are kinda pretty though x
  16. jesus_man

    jesus_man Initiate (45) May 8, 2015 North Dakota

    Of the beer fests I've been to, there is roughly a 50/50 mix of tourists to locals. I've been to several in Belgium and Germany, one in Prague. I still think they are a great venue to dive into and then network. If you are going for THE BEER, then I would recommend Belgium. If you are going to meet friendly people, I've not encountered more friendly people than in Ireland and Scotland. But IMO, the beer scene isn't as diverse or strong. Germany is also a great place, but I would seek out craft breweries and as you were wisely consulted, avoid the big fests like Oktoberfest. If you really want to experience something like that, by all means, but maybe check out the less chaotic Cannstatterfest in Stuttgart. If you go early in the day or on a weeknight, your chances of getting into a tent (where you want to be) is much higher than going on a weekend. We've always split a table at these O-fests with another group (most of the time locals) and it's always been a pleasant experience.
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  17. 1BierBitte

    1BierBitte Initiate (0) Jan 8, 2011 New Jersey

    An excellent town with an excellent selection. Went there in 2010 on a day trip when we went to the Oktoberfest. History, food, and bier!
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  18. miamichael2

    miamichael2 Initiate (95) Dec 2, 2009 Florida

    Copenhagen for a US-style beer culture with a European vibe and setting, Antwerp for a plethora of Belgian beer options and uber-friendly locals, and Dusseldorf for an old school German experience.
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  19. belgiumking

    belgiumking Initiate (48) Aug 10, 2004 Florida

    Check out the Belgiumking web site. It provides a concise overview of the country and is separated by each province. Germany is great if you are a German beer lover. They make excellent beer, but the style variations are not as diverse as they are in Belgium. While another member stated that beer festivals are usually 50/50 local - tourist. There are dozens of festivals in Belgium that have almost no tourists...unless they happen on to the festival by accident. I have been to festivals in Belgium where I was the only non-local.
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  20. jesus_man

    jesus_man Initiate (45) May 8, 2015 North Dakota

    LOL - that reminds me of a story of when we found the Christmas Beer fest in Stembert, Belgium. We were the only non-locals at that one and while we had two kids and 4 adults, we were welcomed just the same.
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  21. Dennis-King

    Dennis-King Initiate (0) Jul 21, 2015 England

    Being English and visited many parts of this isle they don't get more friendly than northern England. London has some great puds, many of them very historic but the locals do tend to stick to themselves.
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  22. Hoppsbabo

    Hoppsbabo Champion (881) Jan 29, 2012 England

    You're right about London but I don't buy the whole northern England thing. It's more a case of population density, and getting away from it. Saying that, Wales is by a mile, and then some, the most unfriendly place I've been in the UK.
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  23. barrybeerdog

    barrybeerdog Initiate (183) Aug 17, 2012 South Dakota

    Although language can sometimes be a bit of a barrier, I truly believe what you are looking for lies in the rural areas of any European country, (no different than in the USA). No matter what country(s) you choose, get out of the big cities & visit the small towns & villages in the country side.
    I have visited Germany, UK, Ireland, Belgium, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Italy, & Poland and w/o a doubt, my best times w/ the local folks took place in small rural settings.
    Enjoy your trip, Europe is a beer paradise. Also, I second the mention of Ireland. Some of the friendliest people I met were in small village pubs.
  24. Hu55ersfield

    Hu55ersfield Initiate (0) Dec 13, 2014 England

    As already been said go to, Northern England. Really friendly and helpful people, that love meeting and speaking with people, then I am biased.
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  25. belgiumking

    belgiumking Initiate (48) Aug 10, 2004 Florida

    I never saw a sour face in the Cotswolds!
  26. belgiumking

    belgiumking Initiate (48) Aug 10, 2004 Florida

    2018 BelgiumKing Beer Tour....
  27. ManforallSaisons

    ManforallSaisons Devotee (427) Mar 20, 2008 Belgium

    If you do end up in Belgium, you'll readily find English speakers, but it's true that the cafe culture is a bit less public than, say, the houses (geddit?) of the UK or Ireland. (There, simply stand at the bar, and you probably can't avoid conversation.) It's true that you might need to initiate contact, some Belgians might consider it too forward to just assume that you're open to conversation. Asking advice on what to order, local favorites and specialities, can unlock things (discussion and knowledge, alike).

    This might work best away from the districts of Brussels, Antwerp and Bruges. 'Course, even in those places, I've had friendly chats with domestic Belgian tourists, so you never know -- worth a shot if you don't have time to get out into the countryside. But with time to wander, hit up the other towns, where there is always hyperlocal pride. Maybe just avoid anywhere frequently mentioned in this forum (as fine as some of those places are). But you could go to one of those places and ask a staffer where else to go. I've had some good luck (and conversations) that way. The problem is not every place has a stand-at-the-bar clientele, or shared seating, which is where the unexpected mixing would be likeliest, so it might entail some hunting around.
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