glass of beer

Not everyone likes beer, that’s OK. But if you do like it, then let’s talk a little about how to drink beer overseas with some rules involved.

Ground rules

  1. Everyone has different tastes, so let’s not compare the best beer or worst beer. I recommend Beer Advocate’s forums if you’re so inclined. No talking from me about the best beer countries, either. Belgium has won, wins and will win again. Seriously, go to Belgium.

    Speak of the Devil

  2. Tasting and drinking are different. You can taste and drink at the same time, but tasting is not what we’re going to talk about. Again: Beer Advocate.
  3. Drinking with besties beats drinking alone. Either bring your friends or make new friends. You all probably like beer, which is the basis of most lifelong friendships.

What the world drinks

Until about 25 years ago, when my dad would say “Hey, I just mowed that lawn because you were on your PlayStation, get me a beer” he meant “get me a lager.” Lager is what most of the world wants when they want to drink a beer, especially in countries without a beer brewing tradition. This is pretty much all of Asia, South America, and Africa. In these places, you’re pretty unlikely to find a locally made IPA or Double Russian Stout on tap.


Not by a long shot. Image and Thanks to: Fred Rockwood

You might find Guinness. In short, the local brew is going to be a lager, pretty much some kind of Dad-beer. Dad-beer is fine, you’re going to be okay.

A scenario

You’re in Sapporo, Japan. I recommend drinking the local lager (see what I did there >.> )  When the brew hits your lips, you will form a memory, one that is yours and yours forever, in a place where you are and this beer is from. Don’t make that singular moment – of being you, alive and in a bar in Sapporo, Japan – about drinking a Bud. Remember: drinking is not tasting. Drink the Sapporo. It’s sort of meant to be.


When in Rome

Let me just say it’s totally cool to drink your favorite beer brand if you’re overseas, by the way. By all means! This is not the forced multiculturalism academy. Vacations are about new experiences though, so when you can, embrace it fully. That even extends to wine and spirits, even if you prefer beer. In Bandol, France? Drink Bandol wine. Campbeltown, Scotland? Drink Springbank whiskey.


When in Rome

Be nice to your bartender


My Hero

Be nice to your bartender wherever you go, but especially overseas. This guy or gal is going to keep an eye on you in a foreign bar. She is your friend, and you should keep it that way. Do this:

  1. In life, you start every productive relationship with mutual respect. Ergo, learn how to ask for a beer in the language spoken there.

    Be Nice to this guy

  2. Tip well, unless you’re not supposed to tip, like in France where they bake the tip into the cost, or Japan, where you pretty much never tip for anything. You should sort this out before you go out, ask around.
  3. I’ve never seen a non-hotel bar service you can run a tab on in any bar overseas, so be prepared to pay cash for each round. Credit card acceptance in bars is spotty too. I don’t know why.

Cheers, Locals!


Cheers (in your language)!

The other reason to drink overseas is to meet local people. In a foreign bar, there’s a chance you may be the most interesting thing there, so be gracious about the questions you’ll be asked, e.g. do you know my cousin, do you play football and do you own a gun. And If you have shaky native language skills, try to chat with the youngest friendly people also drinking.


Another tip: don’t sit by yourself at a table, drink beer overseas at the bar, it’s much easier to meet people on neutral ground. Also, don’t let yourself get drunk, it’s hard to tolerate drunken people, no matter how charming. Lastly, regarding mutual attraction, I would stay on the side of discretion and less is always more.

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