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World’s cheapest beer… and more essential ale info
It’s a great beery love-in, with plenty of (ahem) stout men with prize-winning beards and ales.
Around 55,000 people are expected to attend the Great British Beer Festival, running from today until Saturday, at London’s Olympia Exhibition Centre. The event showcases hundreds of delicious hoppy concoctions from brewers in the UK and internationally.
We’re using the occasion of this huge collective “cheers” to look at Britain’s revered beverage in detail. If there’s anything the average Brit likes better than a pint, it’s a cheap pint, so we’ve started by tracking down the cheapest places on the planet to buy the frothy good stuff.
Related questions? Who produces the most beer, who drinks the most and – careful now – whose beer is the best.
Where to buy the first round…
Beer isn’t always the everywoman’s drink it perhaps should be. Pub pints might still be affordable – but have you tried ordering a couple of beers in a restaurant lately?
So, where can your average beer fan be assured of a cheap round?
A crowd surfing survey by the worldwide cost-of-living website Numbeo found an unlikely sounding pair leading the bargain beer pack: Ukraine and Vietnam.
In both countries a pint of draught would set you back a worryingly binge-inducing 35p.
Bud-mo! Dô! (That’s Ukrainian and Vietnamese for “cheers”, by the way, if you’re planning a cheap pint pilgrimage.)
… And where to skip one
Unsurprisingly, perhaps, Muslim countries where alcohol is outlawed topped the list of most expensive countries for beer-drinking – the beer, of course, being of the non-alcoholic variety.
A pint of the unmellow yellow stuff in Iran? Expect to pay around £4.60, according to the Numbeo survey. Kuwait was next dearest, at £4.30 a pint.
Be aware that penalties for possessing alcohol in Iran include corporal punishment and, in Kuwait, heavy fines and deportation.
Now those sound like really pricey pints. Tap water, anyone?
Where to find a beer buddy…
Drinking alone can be lonesome, so where in the world are you most likely to find a drinking buddy?
The Czech Republic, it would seem. According to the Numbeo survey, the biggest drinkers on Earth are the Czechs, downing a mighty 419 bottles of beer a year each.
The Aussies come in second place and the Germans – that vast beer-a-thon Oktoberfest must help – third, the latter also spending the most (£140 each) on the amber fluid each year.
And where to go for serious ale sampling…
While the British treat beer with respect, it’s probably fair to say other countries have longer traditions of refined beer brewing.
In Belgium, for example, beer is less a drink and more a culture. Known for its huge range of speciality brews, each beer in the country is described almost as having its own personality.
Which is why you’ll rarely be handed a bottle to swill from in Belgium but a glass designed to enhance the flavour of the beer in question. You probably won’t appreciate the full, subtle range of tastes a beer can contain until you’ve sampled a good few Belgian ales.
Op uw gezondheit! (That’s Flemish for, yep, cheers.)
So who invented beer?
Beer has stood the test of time. Ale-drinking is recorded as far back as 2,500 years before Christ, including in the writings of Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt.
Perhaps there was no better way to unwind after a hard day building those pesky pyramids than with a hornful of early home brew.
Now what’s the ancient Egyptian for “cheers”…
And is it healthy?
The health risks of overindulging in alcohol are well known but it seems drinking beer in moderation could actually be good for you.
Beer contains all the essential amino acids, is high in fibre (especially dark beer), contains useful vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, potassium, B12 and folic acid, and it has even been suggested it can help to fight Alzheimer’s disease.
See, it’s practically a protein shake.