10 Great National Beers from Around the Globe
Beer brings the world together. After tea and water, beer is the most popular beverage on the planet. Beer gets more people buzzed, beating out wine and whiskey as the most swallowed spirit in the world. And beer has breed: it’s the oldest fermented libation in the history of humankind. Beer was even worthy of worship in Mesopotamia, whose people prayed to Ninkasi, the goddess of beer. As Plato famously said, “He was a wise man who invented beer,” and as Jack Nicholson more recently remarked, “Beer. It’s the best damn drink in the world.”
Beer is the people’s potion, so if you’re really looking to get a taste of the terra upon which you may be traveling, sip on the local lager. Searching for the most refined in fermented suds is always a noble endeavor, but a few hours with the national beer…the cheap beer…the Bud Light of whatever country you’re in, can be more insightful than a visit to the national museum or even hours following around an encyclopedic guide. The standard grog on the ground gives a true taste of a country’s tradition. They may not have the most polished flavor profile or complex construction, but they are the beers most raised in their respective regions. You may be surprised to find that some are pretty darn good, like Cisk in Malta and Red Rooster in Palau but, you could also be disappointed; like our beloved Bud, some are…well…just easy to drink at a party.
Either way, think of the country’s customary brewski as your local buddy; all you have to do is find a pub, a bar, a restaurant, or in some cases just a shack on the side of the road, order a the least pretentious lager and let the conversation flow from there. And if you don’t understand the language, it’s all good—beer knows all tongues.
Here are a just few we’re happy to have tasted.
While you may want a malt beer in a country called Malta, go for the lager on this beachy, Mediterranean island located between Sicily and Libya. Around since 1928, it makes a glowing goldenglass with a slight hint of fruit, that matches the country’s sunny, vacation vibes.
2—Kalik, The Bahamas
Named for the sound cowbells make during the Bahamian festival of Junkanoo, it’s one of those crispy and extremely light lagers that loves a lime, cracked conch (fried conch), and a lazy day on the beach.
Around since 1969, The Pilsen has been their most popular punch since the ’70s and it pleases with honeyed, malty and just-so hops flavor. Pair with a kebab.
Aguila hails from Bavaria Brewery, a Colombian brewery with roots in the country’s influx of German immigrants in the late 19th century. It has a clean, slightly malty taste that seems tailor made to compliment the aji, or hot sauce, found on the table in most Colombian kitchens.
5—Grolsch, The Netherlands
Yes there’s Heineken, but ask almost any local and they’re tell you they prefer Grolsch. It’s been brewed since 1615 and today the Premium Pilsner is the most popular. Some call it bland, though we found the pale amber to have some refreshing notes of malt and herby hops.
6—Chang Beer, Thailand
Singha is Thailand’s most internationally well-known beer, but Chang recently out-did Singha’s sales in Thailand to become the country’s most popular beer. Thai for elephant, Chang is a pale lager that began in 1995 as part of a venture between Carlsberg and Thai Beverage Plc, though Carlsberg left in the 2005. It’s not the most flavorful brew, but when chilled, it’s a great antidote to the heat.
7—Castle, South Africa
Castle Lager was first sipped in 1895, but it won the World’s Best Bottled Lager at the International Brewing Industry Awards in 2000. It’s a solid beer that steers sharp, vaguely hops and bitter.
You may think vino before beer in Italy, but which imbibes best with a fresh pizza? Beer, obviously and most Italians reach for a bottle of the intensely crisp Peroni when doing so. Since it’s also pretty popular stateside, next time you’re in Italy, try a Nastro Azzurro, the premium version of the lager that’s not as easy to come by in America.
9—Imperial, Costa Rica
Imperial is heavier, mealier and grainer than you’d expect in a country with some of the best beaches on Earth, but then again, it makes a decent meal replacement when you’re too lazy to get off the lounge chair.
10—Red Rooster, Palau
Palau is a teeny nation of islands in Micronesia, but its beer is as bold as any in Ireland. In fact, it was an Irish immigrant who started the small operation in 1998 using only tropical rain in the brew process. Yup—Red Rooster isn’t your typical local beer…it comes as a lager, mango wheat, dark and stout…almost as many flavors as fish in its waters—Palau is known to have the best diving on Earth.
Photo Credits: (From top to bottom) Beer Pouring Credit Nikola Bilic/Shutterstock, Cisk Credit Cisk Facebook, Kalik Credit Flickr User Jill, Aguila Beer Credit Aguila, Efes Credit Flickr User SLR Jester, Grolsch Credit Flickr User Piutus, Chang Beer Credit DDFitzgerald.weebly.com, Castle Lager Credit Castle, Peroni Beer Credit Flickr User Adam Edmond, Imperial Beer Credit Flickr User Davidd, Photo Credit Red Rooster