Great Beers in the Great Outdoors
Kloster Andechs, Andechs, Germany
It is permissible in Bavaria to bring your own picnic to a biergarten, which allows the savvy visitor (and all the locals) to experience some of the most bucolic beer drinking locales Europe has to offer, many of which are mere minutes from the city or even within its limits.
One such setting, perhaps the finest in the vicinity of Munich, is at Kloster Andechs. Perched on a hill a half-hour by train and a short taxi ride southwest of the Bavarian capital, the monastery brewery offers a sprawling outdoor area to which Münchners flock on the weekends, a breathtaking view of the Alps and a wide selection of impressive comestibles for those who elect not to bring their own. And as at almost any biergarten in Bavaria, a litre or two of doppelbock or Spezial Hell in and you’re sure to be making friends at the tables around you.
The world offers fewer brewpubs more remote than this one at the end of the Sognefjord, Norway’s deepest fjord, near the top of the world. As part of the Flåmsbrygga Hotel, it is best reached via a ferry through the fjords or the Flåmsbana, an alpine railway that seems unfathomable how it delivers passengers to a sea-level village surrounded by mountains and glacial waterfalls. Named for the Norse sea god turned brewmaster whose cups of ale magically refilled themselves, Ægir concocts a pale ale (Dag Sitrus) and Belgian Witbier (Siv) but stands out with ones that befit its Viking aesthetic. Tors Hammer, a 13.2% ABV barley wine, and Ylir Julebrygg, the spiced holiday beer, are best sipped indoors around the sunken fire pit because when you’re this close to the Arctic Circle, you want to be roundly toasty/toasted. But during the sunny days (and prolonged sunny nights) of summer, enjoy an Aventinus-style glass—a weizen glass with a tulip head—of Bøyla Blonde Ale. This refreshing, fruity session beer pairs with local trout or lamb each marinated in house beers and is best enjoyed sitting on the terrace overlooking the fjord.
De Pandoerenoeve at Heemerf Kaasstrooimolen, Heist-op-den-
Located in the southeastern part of Antwerp province, this farmstead has a 17th-century pub and a fully functional windmill of the same age. You can tour the windmill and enjoy one of more than 40 beers on the menu. Trappist brews are a specialty: Look for beers from Achel, Chimay, Orval, Rochefort and Westmalle. Boon Oude Geuze and Oude Kriek are also on the list.
There is also a bake house here constructed in the style of those from the 19th century, which was opened in 2002. A real stone oven bakes the delicious bread, which is served at the cafe during its only open day, Sunday. Other small snacks are served as well.
In the winter, there is a fire burning in the hearth of the old Leuvense stove inside the cafe, which is full of interesting old antiques and ephemera.
—Charles D. Cook
L’eau Blanche, Lompret, Belgium
Located in one of the most beautiful villages of Belgium, L’eau Blanche has a small terrace near the riverside. The outdoor setting offers a great view of an imposing rock that the Romans used to build a fortress. The beer menu offers many Belgian favorites, Walloon brews and, of course, the local brewed Chimay beers, including Chimay Blanc on draft. Food options include the locally sourced trout baked in butter and the local specialty Escavèche (trout, eel and onions marinated in vinegar). Don’t forget to try the Chimay cheeses as dessert paired with a Chimay Bleue. Nearby, you can visit the Scourmont Abbey, Lake l’Eau d’Heure, Caves of Neptune, Brasserie des Fagnes and more.
—Luc De Raedemaeker
Only six pubs have featured in every edition of CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide since it was launched in 1974. The Square & Compass, on the English south coast, is one. The whitewashed stone building has been selling ale since the 18th century. Its comforts are basic, some would say spartan, but that’s how its customers like it, whether they are members of the ‘Stitch & Bitch’ knitting group or folk/country fans here for live music. The crackling log fire is a magnet when winter winds rip across the exposed clifftop outside.
In summer, people are drawn here for the views and the bracing, salty air. The external seating is rudimentary—roughly hewn logs and weather-worn stone slabs—but the panorama is majestic, unbroken over fields to the horizon-filling English Channel.
Enjoy a simple lunch of a hot pasty and sip your pint of gravity-drawn ale—perhaps a malt-accented brew from the local Palmers brewery or Mustang Sally, a beer produced for the pub—time stands still.
This part of England is known for fossils, and these are showcased in the pub’s small museum.
Driftwood Spars, Trevaunance Cove, Cornwall, UK
On the tip of England in the West Country, overlooking the Atlantic, this old fishermen’s inn has thick stone walls, blazing fires, and a large beer garden overlooking the rocks, the beach and the sea. Driftwood Spars has excellent food and its own micro-brewery. Its Aflie’s Revenge strong ale was named CAMRA’s Champion Winter Beer of Britain in 2012.
More in Europe
Den Ekster, Dranouter, Belgium; Tommenmolen, Grimbergen, Belgium; Schildia, Heist, Belgium; Pub del Duca, Genova Nervi, Italy
This story appears in the July issue of All About Beer Magazine. Click here for a free trial.