112. PINT Bokbierfestival, Amsterdam, Holland

There is a legendary bock beer festival held annually as autumn descends upon Amsterdam. Last year it celebrated its 35th iteration and the word is definitely out.

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Granted, these are all bock beers, but the variety of tastes, flavors and depths is huge and there is surely something for everyone. The end of the day leaves me a bit ‘bocked-out’ for the season, but the occasion keeps me coming back. For those wondering, a ‘bock’ is really an umbrella term to describe a strong lager: typically brown, rich and drank in winter, the palette  is open to wild interpretation.

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Smokey bacon flavour beer.

This is the biggest beer festival in the Netherlands and it’s easy to see why: housed in a vast Venetian market-styled building near the station, the 10,000 visitors needn’t wait in long lines as there are 30+ breweries with even more taps to fill you up.

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Venue: 8/10

A striking Venetian market-inspired hall, with a buzzing atmosphere on festival day. There is also a leader board with a running tally of beers sold per brewery- Jopen was a clear winner last year, which may have been due to a tactical, and cheeky, placement of taps in the entrance foyer rather than unbridled class.

Beer: 7/10

Granted, they are almost exclusively some incarnation of a bock style, but the variety is surely world beating?

Worthy? Yes

A great day out. I haven’t been to many beer festivals so my opinion is not worth much, but perhaps we can trust the compilers of the list.

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81. The Gravity Bar, Guinness St. James Gate Brewery, Dublin, Ireland

Renowned health drink Guinness needs no introduction: you are on a beer site after all. The lovely stout is still brewed at the original brewery at St. James Gate, which is where you can find the Gravity Bar perched atop the brewhouse, thus offering the best views over Dublin. Available in over 100 countries, it unquestionably tastes better in Ireland.*

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Less renowned is Guinness’s contribution to statistical theory: William Sealy Gosset devised the Student’s t-test in order to monitor quality, and the pseudonym was necessary under Guinness’s restrictive policy whereby their on-staff chemists were not allowed to publish their results.

I don’t like the inclusion of breweries with an admittance fee on this list; Gravity Bar is no exception and, as of writing, will cost you €16.50. Drinking beer on-site as it were is a brilliant experience; paying so much before you can even buy a pint is marring. It’s this kind of profiteering that should strike this ilk of bar off the list.

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Venue: 5/10

The best views in town. The interior is designed for functionality and corporate events; in truth, it’s rubbish. Always busy.

Beer: 5/10

Only varieties of Guinness are available- the Original and Foreign Extra are lovely though.

Worthy? If there was free admittance, probably.

Guinness has a long history, in both beer and statistics, and the views are great. But the entrance fee makes Gravity Bar a one-time place.

*Questionably.

77. Belgo Centraal, London, England

Belgo Centraal is the flagship venue of London’s growing Belgo franchise. It’s hard to be nice about them. I’ve no moral objection to bringing fine, world-class Belgian beer to London, I merely dismay at their execution and style.Belgo

With two of their five outlets within 100m of Covent Garden, it is fair to say they are playing the numbers game, which couldn’t be much further from how their imports are imbibed in their motherland: bars in Belgium are chthonic caves of tranquility; walls adorned with both relevant and inexplicable memorabilia; inviting isolated corners and alcoves; ‘gezellig’ ambience created by wooden panelling, insufficient lights and a bearded beer guru behind the bar. Belgo is a large, cold industrial space- in particular the Bierodrome, which is a hollow, soulless metallic shell.

There are roughly 60 beers which superficially sounds impressive. However, SEVEN of these are different Floris fruit flavoured beers; this strikes me as odd, as they also take delivery from Achel and Rochefort, yet only stock one variety of each. Compare this to an average bar anywhere in Belgium and you wonder if Belgo has made the list because of location rather than quality.

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Warming.

Venue: 2/10

Bleak, uncomfortable, industrial, soulless.

Beer: 4/10

With Rochefort 10, Kwak and Straffe Hendrik, the beer list is remarkable for London. In Brussels, Brugge or Amsterdam, this is typical.

Worthy? No.

Maybe it is the best in town, though that’s not a compliment to Belgo, but an indictment of London.

143. Heineken Brewery, Amsterdam, Holland

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First brewed by Gerard Adriaan Heineken in 1873, Heineken quickly rose to prominence and was awarded the Grand Prix at the 1889 Exposition Universelle, no doubt overshadowing the completion of the most famous of Parisian landmarks. The same yeast, Heineken A-yest, has been used for over a century.

Heineken’s relentless expansion left the old brewery site in de Pijp, Amsterdam, vacant as they moved to larger, more practical premises. This is now an interactive brewery (but not and actual brewery) tour, with tastings and  a bar at the end.

And it is all so very crap. As I’m sure you know, the beer is bland and best served very, very cold, lest you taste it. On a blazing hot day, sat lazily in the sun, the sight of an ice-speckled Heineken would make me very thirsty. As would any beer.

The inclusion of the Heineken Experience is beguiling on two main fronts; 1- the awful beer, of which you have one choice (so no choice) and 2- it’s not a bar, it’s a museum that costs €18 to enter.

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Venue: 1/10

Not really a bar, and will cost you €18 for the pleasure.

Beer: 0/10

It’s Heineken, and Heineken only, for fuck sake people!

Worthy? Hell no.

I can only assume this makes the list due to Heineken’s dominance in the global beer market. But it peddles almost exclusively crap beers, think: Fosters, Amstel, Sol, John Smith’s…and it is this corporate might that forces down the market share of smaller, better beer brands that you can sample at any one of the other 149 venues on this list.

Candidate #3- De Prael, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

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Craft brewing has snowballed in the Netherlands recently, with powerhouses such as Brouwerij de Molen emerging on the international scene.

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Amsterdam is home to a few stalwarts, such as the unpronounceable Brouwerij ‘t IJ. Although, deserving the most attention, in my humble opinion, is De Prael.

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For some time they existed only as a beer shop (proeflokaal), and in the last year they have enjoyed thriving business in a tucked-away venue in the Red Light District. The decor is excellent, a tasteful blend of individual adornments: framed beer bottle label art; old Dutch country house tiles; beer tap bathroom taps, blended with classy contemporary: spotlights; a shiny racing bike.

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The beers are named after old Dutch music ‘icons’, of which they have some vinyl sleeves on the walls. It’s hard to go wrong in the beer choice, and choosing a favorite is like deciding which of your kid’s should be handed over to the Nazis. Willecke, a lovely La Chouffe-type triple blond and Mary, a strong copper triple, are highlights. In the winter, Willy, at 11.4%, will warm you up.

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Despite being located between the red light district and the very popular, very touristy, very garish Warmoesstraat, De Prael enjoys a predominantly local crowd. Presumably partly because it is tucked away up an alley, and partly because the alley looks like this:

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Venue: 9.5/10

Quite possibly the best bar in town. Younger than it looks, De Prael is cleverly designed to accommodate groups, couples, loners and a band. The decor is completely original. There is a section that recreates a lounge from a typical Dutch house, adorned with Delft tiles and comfy armchairs.

Beer: 8/10

Obviously limited by selling only their own beer, this small brewery is world class and it would take years to get bored of their regulars. There are always seasonal brews too.

Worthy?

Yes. Without hesitation, I can say this is better than some on the list I’ve already frequented, so logic follows that it will be better than many more.

86. The Olde Mitre Tavern

Publicity is the last thing this pub needs; it’s tiny. Ye Olde Mitre Tavern is a rare hidden gem, nestled in an alley…somewhere in London.

The current incarnation was forged in 1772, although there has been a tavern of sorts on this site since 1547. And that is brilliant. It also belongs to the Crown. Where else can you drink in such good historic company?

Ye Olde Mitre, Clerkenwell, London

Thanks Guardian.com

The decor is a Tudor-style wood panelling with grand fireplaces, snugs and greying old men. Hard as it is to find, the secret is out and I recommend avoiding the post-work crush. Classic pub food is also served, such as pork pies and pickled eggs.

Venue: 9/10

This is a quintessential British pub. No sports, no music, no advertising; plenty of bitter and bar snacks. The exterior is also very picture friendly.

Beer: 7/10

I love British ale. It travels awfully, so I really appreciate it when possible. For me, the beer choices were fantastic, but the scores reflects the limited range; no foreign muck, as it were. However some of the 7 real ales an tap are award winning, and complemented by varying guests.

Worthy? Yes

The pubs of Great Britain are world-famous and very much part of the heritage. Unfortunately, a lot have been painted white and taken over by bland chains. The Old Mitre Tavern has firmly resisted change, and remains a stellar example of the quaint British tradition.