24. Brauhaus Sion, Cologne, Germany

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After Früh am Dom sufficiently lowered my expectations of Cologne’s bar scene, Brauhaus cemented them.

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The beer is served with brutal German efficiency, albeit unsmilingly and seemingly reluctantly. The Sion Kölsch is better than that served at Früh am Dom, but the comparison is a bit like Heineken vs. Amstel; really rather pointless, as you should be drinking almost anything else.

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A few of the rooms had a quaint antiquated feel about them but others, like in the above photo, were more like a coffee shop, resplendent with white walls and photos of the Nutcracker/Santa/people in stupid clothes.

There’s really little nice to say about this place. Completely ordinary.

Venue: 2/10

Just look at the third picture.

Beer: 2/10

Marginally better than Früh am Dom around the corner, but still completely unremarkable.

Worthy? No.

Some of the rooms look halfway decent, others are renovated without class or warmth. In truth, fairly tacky.

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Candidate #8- The Beer Temple, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Make this pilgrimage for the best selection of American beers in the Netherlands (and Europe?).

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This is the little sister of Proeflokaal Arendsnest (a world-class bar that sells only Dutch beers) and offers 30 draughts, 60+ American beers in bottles and a raft of rare and classic beers from elsewhere: Westvleteren 12, Tokyo et al. Some are prohibitively expensive, but at least they exist.

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The Beer  Temple is prone to being ‘taken over’ or ‘invaded’ by a guest brewery, where they showcase a host of their beers. The Mikkeller glomming had a long legacy, and several could be bought on draft for some time (again, some obscenely expensive bottles). The house beer -Tempelbier, is eminently quaffable, and the Orval cheese is a brilliant bar snack.

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Being so close to Dam Square in the centre of Amsterdam, it’s easy to find and often easy to get a seat. Sneakily, it stays open very late and those tabs soon rack up.

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When it looks like that outside, it’s time to go to the pub.

Venue: 6/10

A large terrace on a busy street for people-watching, and a few really comfy seats inside. Looks every inch the American beer bar of its name.

Beer: 7/10

Due to the high hopping, a lot of the beers travel brilliantly. A deep trough of rare, great American beers.

Worthy? Yes

Might not be remarkable in the States, but it’s in Amsterdam and benefits from some classy European brews, particularly when breweries ‘take over’ The Beer Temple.

17. Früh am Dom, Cologne, Germany

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Expect tables as plastic as the atmosphere, leery drunk ‘lads’ and a jumble of noise clattering around the room. You can wash all this atmosphere down with a beer so steeped in tradition and brewed under such strict guidelines that it tastes remarkably like Heineken. It’s a hundred years of brewing tradition blah blah, but advancements have been made since then, and this stuff is really bland, train lager.

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One online reviewer, lets call them the inyourpocket Essential City Guides, tells us that Früh is “Frequented by a menagerie of classy locals”. I won’t tell you that. I’d plump for brash, loutish and staring young gentlemen, and plump middle ages. Maybe this is classy in Cologne. We can agree that it is perfect for groups.

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You can have any beer you want, as long as it’s this one.

The service is of a particular type: hurried and impersonal. The waiters, Köbes, are exclusively men aged 29-45, and they wonder around with a Kranz of beer ready to dispense them to thirsty patrons. This tradition is brilliant, and they will keep bringing you new beer until you concede and put your beermat on top of your glass. I didn’t eat, but I gather it is hearty German fare: pork and potatoes presented in an enterprising variety of ways.

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Probably the best of the numerous rooms, but still meh.

Venue: 3/10

A few rooms are a bit charming, from a distance, but almost all of it is plastic, tacky and falling apart.

Beer: 1/10

I don’t care how old it is, it tastes like Heineken. Enjoy!

Worthy? No.

There’s a real need to have some German beer halls represented on a list of the best places to have  a beer in the world. But try harder than this place.