Belgium is the mothership of craft brewing, a part of the world that has exerted more influence over the development of modern brewing than anywhere else in Europe. The extent of this is so great that to read about the best known Belgian styles, see : Blond, Dubbel, Flemish Red, Grisette, the Lambics, Belgian saison, Saison Légère, Spéciale, Strong dark, Strong golden, Tripel, Witbier
The legendary rye beer of southern and central Finland is by tradition a home-brew like no other. Impossible to export for its absence of hops, specifically excluded from Finnish Prohibition in the early 20th century, avoiding extinction as often and deftly as the Giant Panda, no beer is more regional and more special than this one.
When Bavaria joined greater Germany in 1871 one of the conditions of the deal was the adoption across the whole country of the Bavarian Beer Purity Order – known popularly but incorrectly as the Reinheitsgebot. This brought largely unintended homogeneity to German brewing, which had previously being quite regional in its approach.
Italian craft brewing is a hotbed of creativity and has advanced massively this century. Despite, or perhaps because of, not having any historic beer styles to revive, and despite, or perhaps because of Italy having an advanced wine culture, the expectation has always been that the country’s brewers would eventually invent their own classic styles.
Poland ties with Spain and the UK as Europe’s third largest beer producer, after Germany and Russia. Polish brewers make many different type of porter and stout, and more than their share of smoked beers.
Small production, traditional farmhouse-style beers have been preserved better in the Nordic countries and Baltic states than elsewhere in Europe, though none has yet reached the iconic status of Finland’s Sahti.
In Cold War times the poster child of brewing in the Soviet bloc was Czechoslovakia, though East Germany, Poland and Ukraine were also acknowledged as having particularly skilled brewers.
New beer styles are being invented all the time but history tells us that few of these outlive the seven year life-cycle afforded to many new products. A few stand the test of time. but do not really catch on outside their home country and some specific exports markets.