“You can’t be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline – it helps if you have some kind of football team, or some nuclear weapons, but in the very least you need a beer.” – Frank Zappa
Beer is culture in Europe. There are regions where wine dominates, yet locally brewed beer is a prevalent industry in all regions of Europe.
My ten days in Europe placed me in drinking range of beer from seven different countries.
One aspect of rapid travel across Europe was quickly seeing the economics of beer in different countries.
Cases of beer at Coop Supermarket, Zurich, Switzerland.
Drinking imported beer bought at BevMo in America is just not the same as drinking locally.
Switzerland – Feldschlosschen, largest brewery in the country.
Imported beer like US Budweiser, Pilsner Urquell, Boddington’s, and Corona in Switzerland cost about 1.50 to 2.50 CHF per bottle at the market. A Swiss Franc is worth about $1.06 USD so the price of beer is the same in U.S. dollars or even less since there is no extra Swiss tax on the beer price. There is a bottle deposit fee you will not recoup unless you recycle. Don’t worry. Recycling in Europe usually is available at the same market you buy beer.
Local Swiss beer is far cheaper at the market than buying imports.
Feldschlossen 0.5 liter bottles (16.9 ounces) cost 0.70 CHF or about 73 cents USD.
Berlin has its own beer and even an airline. This city is like its own country.
Air Berlin plane for flight from Zurich to Berlin.
Ich bin ein Berliner Kindl beer drinker.
German beer is good. Most beer all over Europe is good. The historic German beer purity law means beer tastes quite similar across most brands. Modern German legislation for beer comes from 1993.
There are generally a dozen or more German brand beers in a supermarket. In Berlin the price was about 0.45 to 0.70 euros per 0.5 liter bottle. ($0.58 to 0.90 USD).
ITB Berlin 2013 and Beer
The initial two days of the ITB Berlin 2013 travel conference was business and seminars until 6pm, when local gatherings happened for about an hour in exhibit locations around the Berlin Messe convention hall world. I just happened to be in the German convention halls when several exhibit spaces turned into local pub spaces.
There were even airport exhibit lounge drinking opportunities.
I found myself trying two German beers from the Ruhr Valley region in North Rhineland-Westphalia in western Germany.
Konig Pilsner from Duisberg, Germany being served to ITB Berlin attendees at the Ruhr Valley, Germany exhibit hall.
Belgium beer detour
The Ruhr Valley beer hall quickly became packed with little wiggle room and I headed to another hall where I found myself meeting several hoteliers from Brussels, Belgium.
Leon Biere/Bier/Beer and pommes frites at Brussels, Belgium ITB Berlin tourism convention exhibit.
Léon 1893 is brewed in the St-Feuillien brewery located in Le Roeulx in the south of Belgium. It has an alcohol content of 6.5%.
Met some nice independent hoteliers from Brussels with Euro-modern looking hotels.
Martin Duchateau is General Manager of a family-owned boutique Hotel Made in Louise located in Brussels.
One thing about beer in Germany is even bars and pubs have a relatively low price and low range of prices for beer compared to the USA. In restaurants I bought a 0.5L bottle of Becks for 2.00 euros ($2.60 USD). In a nightclub the cost increased to 3.50 euros ($4.55).
No thank you on absinthe. None for me.
I photographed this shop since a couple hours earlier a travel blogger and I were discussing if absinthe was legal in Berlin. This store I passed on my way back to the hotel seemed to provide a definitive answer.
Grocery store taste test selection of beers.
Most bottles for 0.5 L are priced around 65 euro cents or $0.85 USD. Bottles had 0.08 euro deposit fee.
Berliner Kindl was my chosen beer for much of my stay in Berlin.
Berliner Kindl is my pick for Berlin beer.
I’ll take the Czech please!
At Berlin Tegel Airport I was surprised to see Czech Republic Budweiser beer in the oneworld lounge. This is the original old country brew.
Czech Bud and Cake at Tegel.
I have been to the Czech Republic twice. In 2000 I was on a quest for the elusive 15 cents 0.5L mug of beer. The cheapest I found was 25 cents USD pints. Top quality beer in a fine dining restaurant was $1.00 a bottle.
In 2007 we stayed in Prague and discovered a beer specialty shop down the street. We tasted beers from a dozen breweries. I loved Prague for its historic beauty and fine selection of beers.
Norway Beer Shock
Norway is an expensive country. The first pub I checked was charging 75 Norwegian krone for a 0.5L beer. That is $13 USD for a beer.
I did not find a supermarket in five hours of walking around Oslo until I was back in the train station on my way to Oslo Gardermoen Airport.
Frydenlund Pilsner is brewed by Ringnes Brewery, Oslo.
29.70 NOK = $5.08 USD. That is the price for one 0.5L can of beer and not the six-pack price.
Tuborg beer was slightly cheaper at 15.70 NOK ($2.70 USD) for 330ml bottle.
The price per bottle of beer averaged about 30 NOK in the store with a price range at a low around 20 NOK for a 0.5 L local brew up to 40 NOK for familiar import names.
Rimi Supermarket beer selection at Oslo Central Rail Station.
A flight delay in Oslo with Ringnes beer on tap was no cause for concern as I waited to board FinnAir for Helsinki.
My shock arriving in Helsinki was learning I could only buy 2.8% beer after 9pm in the supermarket. All the alcohol with higher content was locked up behind metal gates.
Lapin Kulta 2.8% beer.
The Lapin Kulta weak beer was under 1 euro ($1.20 USD) per bottle. The Nikolai beer from a corner market was 3 euros ($4.00 USD)
Nikolai pilsner is brewed at Sinebrychoff, Finland. This premium lager was better served in a glass that Hotel Kamp kindly provided with a complimentary bottle of 375 ml bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon for my Starwood Cash & Points hotel stay.
I discovered there are microbrews in Finland with this brewery near the Helsinki Cathedral.
A little while later I came across a selection of craft beers at the organic supermarket in downtown Helsinki.
Helsinki organic market bottled microbrews from Finland and Sweden ran 5 to 7 euros or about $7 to $9 USD per bottle.
There was plenty of beer selection in Helsinki markets, but the average price of beer is quite high at 2.50 – 3.25 euros ($3.25 to $4.20 USD) per can or bottle.
Finland is another expensive country for beer.
Finnair Lounge at Vantaa Airport
Signage card on this Lapin Kulta tap says Olvi beer, a Finnish brewer with 20% of the Finland market.
In London I was too busy to drink much beer. Still, I checked out a couple of places.
The AP Express market across the street from the Radisson Blu London Westminster Bridge Hotel was the only store I entered in London. This market sells beer and wine 24 hours around the clock. Prices are steep, but not steep compared to Helsinki and Oslo.
Cans and Bottles at 1.79 to 2.29 GBP ($2.70 to $3.50 USD) in a 24-hour corner market.
Pubs will set you back around 3.50 GBP ($5.30 USD) per pint.
Buckingham Arms, a Young’s pub in Westminster, London remembered fondly from past pints.
Cathay Pacific lounge at London Heathrow provided the opportunity for a liter of Fuller’s London Pride ale and a selection of Indian, Thai and Chinese food before boarding my American Airlines flight to Chicago.
Beer from seven European countries tasted in five European cities where I touched down over ten days.
European life tasted good.