Beers are enjoyed all over the world and brewed commercially on every continent except Antarctica. In addition to brewing their own pilsner-style lager beer, most countries brew their own specialty lagers, ales or stouts.
Quality standards are very high in the German brewing industry. In 1516, a law called the Reinheitsgebot (meaning purity requirement) was introduced in Bavaria. It stated that only pure water, barley and hops could be used to make beer. Although current European Union law states otherwise, many German brewers still follow the Reinheitsgebot to this day.
While light-colored Pilsner lagers are the most common German beers, Germany produces many types of beer: wheat beer and dark-colored lagers like bock are a few. Bock is a full-bodied beer brewed in winter and drunk in spring. The major brewing cities are Dortmund in the north and Munich in the south.
The Japanese beer market is dominated by four major brewers: Asahi, Kirin, Sapporo and Suntory . They all produce similar types of light lager beers. In 1994, Japanese brewing regulations were eased, resulting in a boom in microbreweries, brewpubs and regional brewery companies.
Like their American counterparts, serious Japanese beer drinkers jumped at the chance to escape from the clutches of the big brewers and benefit from a wider choice of beer styles. German-style lagers, pale, amber and dark ales, as well as wheat beers are now available in Japan, forcing the big brewers to review their product portfolios.
Probably because of their hot climate, Australians generally like their beer cold and strong. The major Australian beer producers such as Fosters, Tooheys, Castlemaine, and Swan all produce similar bland, slightly sweet lagers. However, the microbrewery phenomenon, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne, has made most types of beer easily accessible.
Mexico has a history of brewing that goes back to the time of the Aztecs. However, the Mexican brewing industry, as we know it today, was created by nineteenth century Spanish and German immigrants.
The biggest Mexican beer brand is Corona. This sweet lager beer, which is normally served with a wedge of lime to make it palatable, has become the largest selling imported beer in the United States.
To most drinkers, Irish beer is synonymous with one beer brand: Guinness. Dublins finest stout comes in two main varieties: draught Guinness and bottled Guinness Extra Stout. Although Guinness is the market leader, it faces strong competition from Murphys Stout and Beamish Stout, both from Cork.
In addition to stout, Irish beer varieties also include a number of cream ales, which taste like a combination of stout and lager. The best-known brands are Murphys Red and Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale. Bitter ales such as Caffreys and Guinness Bitter as well as Kinsale and Harp lagers are also brewed in Ireland, but aren”t as popular as stout.
As in most other countries, multinational brewers have made major inroads into the British beer market. However, British beer drinkers rebelled against tasteless, fizzy beer in their pubs. Largely as a result of demands from the Campaign For Real Ale (CAMRA), the small brewery sector has been revived and big brewers are continuing to produce cask-conditioned draught bitter beer. Consequently, British drinkers are still able to enjoy traditional draught and bottled ales.
Although only a relatively small country, Belgium is home to the greatest variety of beers brewed anywhere in the world. Besides classic lagers, Belgian beer varieties include a wide range of wheat beers, raspberry and cherry flavored lambics, Trappist strong ales, amber ales, brown ales, seasonal ales, golden and red beers. For the serious drinker, Belgium is Beer Heaven!