Feature: short breaks to European beer festivals

Thursday, 5 May 2011 1:07 PM

Short breaks are a great way to experience a long lazy weekend abroad, and with the next bank holiday just around the corner many people are planning their next break already.

While trips to fantastic European cities are a great way to spend a few days together with friends or lovers, seeing sights and dining at fine restaurants, have you ever considered sipping on a beer made from banana or wild yeast?

If not, then now is the time to start to tingle your taste buds and fly out to Europe and get stuck in.

The birthplace of Pilsner

Starting off the European spring social calendar for beer festivals, the historic Czech capital of Prague is playing host to its fourth annual event.

Known as the world’s biggest beer drinkers, Czech locals and tourists alike can have fun at The Czech Beer Festival, which starts next week on Thursday May 12 and runs until the end of the month. Featuring 120 beers over five tents, server girls in traditional costume will serve two pint pitchers to 180,000 thirsty punters, half of who will have travelled around the world to get here.

But ladies need not fear, as the waitresses will be serving pints of beer to those who can’t stomach the big glasses! Special days include American Sunday on May 15 which will feature imported US beers, and a British Sunday on May 22 for those missing their real ale back home.

And what better way to experience this ancient city than by staying at the Four Seasons Hotel on the Vltava River, where you can enjoy a massage in your room and dining in the acclaimed restaurant before taking an evening walk through the city’s Old Town Square.
British Airways flights from London start from £109 this month, while easyJet.com £58.99, so there is really no excuse to get out there.

The enthusiasts festival

A good but little known event in the beer calendar is the 11th annual Copenhagen Beer Festival. Located in the former Carlsberg brewery in the Danish city’s Valby district, the large and historic rooms will compliment the selection of continental beer on offer.

The event, taking place between May 26 and 28, is being hosted by the ever enthusiastic Danish Beer Enthusiasts and will be a chance to sup on hundreds of Danish beers, including five from Copenhagen itself.

The city also boasts a thriving wine bar scene where bottles from all around the world can be drunk in style. A good option is the Tire Bouchon where French snacks such as foie gras can be enjoyed with a glass, or the restaurant Falernum, located on Vaenedamsvej road which has a laid back and artistic atmosphere.

For a romantic getaway, try staying in the Admiral Hotel which features a private wellness spa equipped with a steam bath. Just outside the hotel is the Little Mermaid statue, one of the city’s premier attractions, and just across the waterfront is recently opened Opera House for those looking for culture.

Flights to the city start from as low as £56 with British Airways.

The wild beer of Belgium

For those looking for a more unique beery weekend, the Weekend of Spontaneous Fermentation is taking place in the Belgian town of Buggenhout, located in rural East Flanders.

Being held between May 28 and 29, the event will only feature beers produced by ‘spontaneous fermentation’ called Lambic beers. This unique art of brewing allows the beer to be exposed to wild yeasts and bacteria native to the Senne Valley, and gives the beer a cidery and sour taste.

Only 15miles from Brussels and 16 from Antwerp, this small provincial town can easily be reached by renting a car after a British Airways flight to the capital. There are numerous quaint bed and breakfasts in the town, such as the historic Boskapelhoeve, which was originally built as a model farmhouse after World War I.

Located near the biggest forest in East Flanders, this is a great location for ramblers and cyclists looking to get away from it all for a while, and there are selection of local restaurants such as the Brasserie Den Dries which serve a large range of local dishes.

Oktoberfest

We cannot make a list of beer festivals in Europe without including the infamous Oktoberfest held in Munich, and although the gargantuan event is held later in the year, it is worth booking now to secure yourself a hotel, as around 6 million revellers descend on the city each year.

This year the festival will be celebrating its 201st anniversary and play to host to a range of different beer tents and food houses serving anything from Bavarian dumplings to fresh roast duck. But there is good news for the ladies in the form of a wine tent!

Lufthansa and British Airways both fly to the European city, and as a stunning historic city with buildings dating from the 15th century there is much to see and do if you literally cannot stand another day of beer!

Although mainly thought of as a man’s tipple, European beer offers a large selection of fruit and wheat beers which may be easier on the female palate.

And remember, you don’t have to spend all day drinking! Instead you can try a few before walking through the historic town and dining at fine restaurants before heading back home. Your friends may even be a bit jealous of your new found hobby.
 

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