It’s hard enough to find a good beer bar in your city. But to find the best beer bars in the world? That is a Herculean task of, um, Herculean proportions, so we selfishly passed along the responsibility to our beer expert (and owner of his own damn fine beer bar) Zach Mack. He scoured the globe to find the 21 best, most knowledgeable, and unique places to enjoy a beer on almost every continent (you suck at beer, Antarctica!). If you think he missed a spot, or you just want to tell him about the suds selection in Antarctica, do so in the comments, but, until then, grab a beer and start researching flights. You’ve got a lot of places to go:
Stockholm, Sweden What you’re drinking: Cantillon Gueuze One’s mind doesn’t always drift to Sweden when it comes to beer, but Akkurat is a classic on the beer cult scene with a massive following of devoted imbibers. You will always find a coveted Cantillon on draft, but that’s not even close to the end of it: the bottle list has over 600 entries, including cuvées and cellared vintage beauties you won’t find anywhere else, period. And if you’re looking to jump headfirst into the heavy stuff, the whisky club (which clocks in at five pages long) and the food menu are far from an afterthought.
Tokyo, Japan What you’re drinking: Yo-Ho Tokyo Black Porter In a culture that appreciates beer as much as Japan, it’s not surprising that Tokyo is host to one of the most respected craft beer spots in Asia. The beer menu may feel like it’s over the top (and the website looks like something straight out of 1997), but its 70 tap lines veer through Japan’s impressive brewing landscape including Hitachino and Ise Kadoya, while still saving room for American and European guest stars. The menu of simple but memorable Japanese fare doesn’t hurt matters, either.
Cape Town, South Africa What you’re drinking: Devil’s Peak King’s Blockhouse IPA Even if they often don’t rank in beer aficionados’ typical lists, the Beerhouse on Long is an oasis in Africa for anyone curious about the exploding craft beer movement on the continent. The beer list is physically massive, not only because of 20 taps and over 100 bottles available, but also thanks to the pages dedicated to education on styles and local production. The bar's commitment to highlighting African brews makes it a true standout, especially since opening a second location in Johannesburg in July of 2014.
Dublin, Ireland What you’re drinking: Galway Bay Of Foam and Fury Imperial IPA Ireland has Guinness, but the country only recently started to redevelop a true craft beer scene. Brew Dock turns the trend of dingy Irish bars with pints full of stouts on its head: it's got 24 taps (many of which pour beers from the bar’s proprietary brewery, Galway Bay) and over 100 bottles from around the world, all served with appropriate glassware (a true rarity in Dublin). The one aspect that holds true to the Irish pub stereotype? The awesome, friendly vibe and chatty locals that haunt the stools.
Auckland, New Zealand What you’re drinking: Brothers Auckland Pale Ale A sweet brewpub, an impressive bottle shop, a charming local watering hole... Brothers Beer is new to Auckland, but it ticks off too many boxes to be passed up by any beer lover, local or traveling. If you’re going to forgo one of the fantastic house-brewed options, there are plenty of other incredible local beers on the 18 taps and among the 200+ bottles, including Yeastie Boys, Liberty Brewing, and ParrotDog.
Bamburg, Germany What you’re drinking: Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock If it weren’t for the fact that a large portion of Café Abseits is a lively outdoor biergarden, you would be able to say that it boasts the most solid collection of German beers (Bavarian and otherwise) under one roof. Ayinger, Weihenstephaner, Andechser, and, especially, the local darlings Schlenkerla and Weyermann are all featured prominently on the bottle list, which, true to German style, rotates to reflect seasonally appropriate beers. The owner, Gerhard, is legendary amongst visitors for his hospitality and heavy hand.
Stavanger, Norway What you’re drinking: Nøgne Ø Tiger Tripel The Cardinal hits right at the heart of Scandinavian beer culture. It offers themed tastings (including Danish and British planks) to help you work your way through its tome of a beer list. The 22 draft lines and around 550 bottles are also open to crowdsourcing: the owners urge beer lovers to send the bar a bottle of their brew. If they’re wowed, they’ll import it themselves, and add it to their list.
Saint-Gilles, Belgium What you’re drinking: Cantillon Kriekenlambik Even in a country as inundated with beer bars as Belgium, there are few doing as impressive a job as Chez Moeder Lambic. There’s clean, modern décor in place of tired faux-abbey vibes, an emphasis on slow food, and one of the best-curated lists of regional and vintage beers in the world. Pop open a lambic on the terrace on a warm day before (or after) ambling over to Cantillon Brewery, which is just a short walk away.
Washington, DC, USA What you’re drinking: Stillwater Cellar Door Chances are if you’re a beer geek on the East Coast, you’ve spent (or at least dreamed of spending) an evening at ChurchKey. Thanks to DC’s unique liquor laws, the 55 draft lines and 500+ bottles pour some of the best beers from across this great nation of ours, from sea (the District’s own DC Brau or Baltimore’s Stillwater) to shining sea (California’s Lagunitas, Green Flash, and AleSmith).
Budapest, Hungary What you’re drinking: Fóti Kézműves Sörfőzde Keserű Méz The name (which translates as “Only Good Beer”) does not lie: Budapest’s best beer bar and bottle shop carries the who’s who of Hungarian brews and global favorites. The owner, who himself is a gypsy brewer (the kind who travels around to make beer, not the type who curses your family), supports locals on draft. If you’re feeling homesick, one of the 200 or so bottles will almost definitely hit close to home -- wherever that is. Unless you’re a gypsy.
Montreal, Quebec What you’re drinking: Dieu du Ciel Aphrodisiaque There’s no questioning it: some of the best beer in North America is coming from Quebec, and Dieu du Ciel cements Montreal’s status as a beer lover’s paradise. The Belgian-themed brewery itself is just out of town in Saint-Jerome, but its Mile End brewpub showcases some of its best offerings, paired right up against Quebec cheeses and famous Montreal bagels. The educated staff (who will take your order in French or English) and the casual vibe solidify its legendary status in a city already filled with incredible beer options.
São Paulo, Brazil What you’re drinking: 3 Lobos Pele Vermelha IPA Maybe it’s the 33 taps that feature some old international friends (To Øl, Evil Twin, Ballast Point), as well as the best Brazil has to offer. Or the fact that you’re surrounded by cases filled with over 700 bottles that you can drink right on the spot. Or that its bottle shop concept will have you picking up stuff to go. Or maybe it’s just the fact that with its outdoor seating and open-air terrace, Empório Altos dos Pinheiros just might be the only reason to ditch the beach for the bar.
London, England What you’re drinking: Thornbridge dry-hopped Jaipur from cask What the Euston Tap lacks in bountiful space (it’s housed in a Victorian-era gatehouse) it makes up for with a killer location and impeccable style. The 150 bottles and 20 rotating draft lines host some impressive guests for certain, but the highlight here is the eight rotating casks (true to English tastes), showcasing brews from the likes of Thornbridge, Hewitt’s, and Liverpool. And if you feel like changing it up from beer, its sister pub across the street, the Cider Tap, is London’s only dedicated cider bar.
Hong Kong, China What you’re drinking: Young Master Mo’ Mo’ Wit Even though it’s not hard to find a place to grab a beer in central Hong Kong, it is very challenging to find a bar with a good selection. The Globe achieves just that: it’s a solid gastropub with 18 rotating drafts highlighting plenty of local, Japanese, American, and European craft brews (which also helps explain the droves of expats that frequent the bar). The list of over 100 bottles is unparalleled on the island, and bartenders are more than willing to guide you through it with a private tasting.
Paris, France What you’re drinking: Saint Germain Page 24 Réserve Hildegarde Blonde In a city that’s much more known for its wine culture than its brew devotion, the past few years have been very exciting for Parisian beer geeks. The 11th arrondissement’s La Fine Mousse is helping elevate beer drinking with 20 taps and 150 bottles of France’s best, while also highlighting France’s Belgian beer obsession with plenty of brews from de la Senne and Dupont.
Athens, Greece What you’re drinking: Septem Citra Single Hop IPA Those Greeks are at it again! First they invent democracy, and then they open up a quaint, cozy pub with a world-class beer selection. The 20 draft lines and 100 available bottles showcase the comfort classics like AleSmith IPA and Sierra Nevada Narwhal, while still showing love to domestic breweries like Septem. Cross your fingers and try to visit on one of the pub's famous BBQ nights: it’s a literal sausage fest.
Sydney, Australia What you’re drinking: Kaiju! Where Strides the Behemoth Black IPA There are arguably few countries that have benefited from the rise of craft beer as much as Australia, and the Local Taphouse is proof. The 20 draft lines and over 300 bottles showcase some of the best domestic and Kiwi beers, including Mountain Goat, Hargreaves Hill, and Yeastie Boys, as well as some majorly impressive international crafts. The cozy-but-not-so-cozy-it-veers-into-mancave-territory ambiance and the attached bottle shop solidify the experience as one of the best you can get in Oz.
Rome, Italy What you’re drinking: LoverBeer BeerBera This is a hole-in-the-wall spot if there ever was one, but appearances are incredibly deceiving in this case. Even outside the killer bottle and draft list, this place pays attention to everything: optimal head creation on beers, intense dedication to proper glassware, and using two separate refrigerators to optimize serving temperatures, just to name a few.
Copenhagen, Denmark What you’re drinking: Mikkeller SpontanGooseberry The inclusion of Mikkeller on a menu is sort of becoming a global indicator of a “well thought-out beer list.” Not surprisingly, the brewery's eponymous bar somehow manages to be as cool as the brand itself, with sleek, minimal Danish décor (how are they always so good at furniture?!) and a beer list for the ages. Even if you decide to veer off course from the namesake beers, you still really can’t go wrong: there are top-notch brews from Three Floyds, Lost Abbey, and Ballast Point.
Brooklyn, USA What you’re drinking: Evil Twin Imperial Doughnut Break If you’re a fan of Evil Twin beer, there’s absolutely no way Tørst hasn’t crossed your radar by now. Its operation -- from the top-of-the-line draft system to the availability of incredible kegs from the likes of the aforementioned Evil Twin and Stillwater to the serious bottle list -- is top-notch to the very end. Luksus, the in-house restaurant, also has the special distinction of being the singular beer-only restaurant ever to receive a Michelin star: needless to say, the beer-paired tasting menu is arguably the best in the land.
Prague, Czech Republic What you’re drinking: Kocour Catfish Sumeček It’s fitting that a country credited with turning beer popularity on its head is host to one of the world’s most unique beer bar experiences. Zly Casy’s expansive layout rewards you for your adventurousness: each of the three floors offers a different splay of beer, built around a solid selection of local craft brews and internationally adored favorites. It’s also worth mentioning that the goulash alone is worth the trip.
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Zach Mack is Thrillist's contributing beer writer, the owner of Alphabet City Beer Co. in NYC, and absolutely nothing else. He's such an unbiased writer, his bar isn't even on here. But it's still pretty great. Visit him on Avenue C and at @zmack.