A European getaway has many perks. For one, you can lose yourself in civilizations thousands of years old one minute and visit a modern mega city the next. In addition, so many distinct countries and cultures are closely packed together that you can experience a huge amount of variety in the span of a few days. For some however, there’s one thing that stands above the rest – the drinks. While there is certainly overlap between the countries, three distinct regions have taken shape with certain countries known for a specific type of beverage. Journey with us as we explore the alcohol belts of Europe – as long as you’re of age ;).
The Beer Belt
Looking for a good stout or ale? Well you’ve come to the right place. It shouldn’t surprise you that this journey starts just off the coast in Britain and Ireland. Once you’ve sampled the best from Galway to London, ‘hop’ (get it?) across the water to Belgium. Here you’ll find the renowned Trappist breweries – special monasteries where beer brewing has been a tradition for hundreds of years. Not had your fill yet? The Netherlands and Germany are just nearby – and we hear that they know a thing or two about beer. End your journey in the Czech Republic and Slovakia – the former of which has the highest beer consumption rate in the world. The city of Plzeň is worth a visit too so you can say you visited the birthplace of Pilsner beer (the clue is in the name).
The Wine Belt
Wine regions are seemingly ubiquitous across the world. While countries like Chile, Australia, and the USA are producing great wine, many still associate the drink with the old countries of Europe. One thing we’ll say about the wine belt has some of the best weather in Europe. You can start your trip in Northern France but you’ll soon find yourself relaxing on the idyllic shores of the Mediterranean – whether in France, Portugal, Spain, or Italy. While these countries might be the most well known, you’ll find some great wine in countries like Croatia, Serbia, Greece, Romania, and really anywhere else in Southern and Southeastern Europe. Whether you want reds, whites, or something in between (read: rosé), the Wine Belt offers the most concentrated and varied wine selection on Earth.
The Vodka Belt
Enjoying a casual pint? Sipping a nice glass of wine at a café? Well get ready to turn things up a notch – we’ve just arrived in the Vodka Belt. Found largely in Northern and Central-Eastern Europe, these countries account for the vast majority of Europe’s vodka. Russia, Poland, Ukraine, the Nordic countries, the Baltic states – all these and more are countries where fermenting grain or potato (usually) has become an art form. Usually found around 40% ABV, vodka is certainly a stronger option than beer or wine. It’s become an integral part of the culture in many of these countries – especially in Russia where it is often symbolically used to seal business deals and agreements. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for those who appreciate the craft – the countries of the Vodka Belt are the masters.
While the ‘belts’ describe the most popular beverage in certain countries, there is certainly deviation amongst them. You can find great wine in the Czech Republic, great beer in Poland, and great vodka in England (admittedly because it was shipped from somewhere in the Vodka Belt). Of course, there’s much more than just these three drinks. The renowned rum of the Caribbean, the top-notch tequila of Mexico, and of course the Scotch of Scotland – every country and region has something they pride themselves on. It’s up to you to discover the best of the best!
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