7 Remarkable Craft Breweries Around the World

From the alleys of Ho Chi Minh City to far above the Arctic Circle, here are some microbreweries worth traveling for.

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Did the modern craft beer movement begin in California with the founding of New Albion Brewing in 1976? Or did it begin in the UK in 1971, when locals fed up with the uniformity of British beer founded the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA)? Whatever its origins, craft brewing has taken off in a big way, not just in the US and Great Britain but around the globe. Here’s a list of breweries not to miss, wherever you are in the world.

1. St. Helena, California

Ever since New Albion Brewing was founded in Sonoma, craft beer has had a home in California’s famed wine country. Mad Fritz, located in St. Helena in the heart of the Napa Valley, is unique for making beer using the kind of single-origin sourcing used to make the region’s fine wines. While most beer is made using hops and malt from all over the country, Mad Fritz’s Terroir Series ales use ingredients that are 100 percent grown or sourced from within the same county, right down to the water. (For beer lovers unfamiliar with wine terminology, “terroir” refers to the characteristic flavor imparted to a wine – or beer – by the environment in which it is produced.)

2. Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway

The Arctic archipelago of Svalbard is located at Latitude 78° north, about 650 miles (1,050km) from the North Pole. Making alcohol here was forbidden by a 1928 law, but the brewers successfully lobbied the Norwegian government to have the law changed. In 2015, Svalbard Bryggeri became the world’s northernmost brewery, stealing the crown from Mack in Tromsø, Norway. All their beers are made using water from a 2,000-year-old glacier. Tours and tastings must be arranged in advance.

Longyearbyen, Svalbard, home of the world's northernmost brewery. Photo credit: iStock

3. Ollantaytambo, Peru

The traditional beer of the Peruvian Andes is chicha, made with purple corn and (sometimes) fermented with saliva. If that doesn’t appeal to you, don’t worry – Cerveceria del Valle, in the Sacred Valley a few miles outside Ollantaytambo, is here to rescue you with its award-winning IPAs and pale ales.

4. Vleteren, Belgium

Craft beer may be having a renaissance, but the Trappist monks of Belgium have been microbrewers for centuries. There are only six authentic Trappist breweries in Belgium – the smallest is the Abbey of St. Sixtus, in Vleteren, West Flanders. They’ve been making beer since 1839, but recently rose to fame when numerous authorities named their Westvleteren 12 dark ale “best beer in the world.”

The beer is only sold at the abbey store, and if you’re thinking of dropping by and stocking up, you should know that sales are limited to two 24-bottle crates, which must be reserved in advance. It’s not uncommon to see cars lined up for miles to collect their order – and customers can’t make another pickup in the same car, or make another reservation from the same phone number, for two months. Better start planning now!

5. Hobart, Tasmania

Though Melbourne is widely considered to be Australia’s craft beer capital, don’t discount Tassie. Craft brewing is on the rise here, with some 25 breweries around the state. One of the newest on the scene is Shambles, opened in 2016 as a result of what the founders describe as a “beer life crisis” – a home-brewing hobby that turned into a passion. With beer names like Farmer’s Tan and Wet, Hop American Summer, their crisis seems like a lot more fun than the usual kind.

Photo credit: iStock

6. Cape Town, South Africa

South Africa is known for its wines, but there’s a quiet craft beer revolution happening here, too. Arguably the best place to explore it is Beerhouse, in the Cape Town city center. Calling themselves the “vanguard of the Beer Revolution,” this bar operates as a showroom for local micro-breweries, and offers one of the biggest selections of beer in all of Africa.

7. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Drinking light bai hoi beers while sitting on tiny plastic stools is a Vietnam tradition, but that’s changing. Southeast Asia is experiencing a craft-brew revolution of its own. One of the pioneers is Saigon’s Pasteur Street Brewing Company, which combines American techniques with local Vietnamese ingredients to create over 200 distinct varieties of beer. The original taproom is – as you might guess – on Pasteur Street in Ho Chi Minh City. There’s another on that same alley, and a third one in Hanoi.

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