Friday, September 21, 2012

The World's Best Cities for Beer (Part 2)

continued from part 1...

We've willingly drunk our way around the globe to uncover the best cities for drinking beer. Here are the top 14 places to indulge in ale, lager, stout, draught, pilsner, and more.

Hanoi, Vietnam

The country's relationship with beer started in earnest during the Vietnam War when U.S. soldiers created an increased demand. Today, Hanoi has some of the cheapest and best varieties of beer in Asia. The most popular brands are San Miguel, Tiger 333, Bia Saigon, and Bière Larue. Make sure you also try Bia Hoi, or "fresh beer," a light-bodied pilsner without preservatives that is brewed and delivered daily to drinking establishments throughout Hanoi.

How to Drink: In general, beer is served over ice, and you always pour your friend's beer before your own. Toast by saying "tram phan tram" -- which translates to "100%" although it's likely that your local brew will only contain about 3% alcohol.

Average price for a glass of Bia Hoi: 2,500 Vietnamese dong (about 13¢)

Melbourne, Australia

Home to Carlton and United Breweries, Australia actively exports Foster's Lager, but locals prefer Victoria Bitter (VB), Crown, or Carlton Draught. With a pub seemingly on every major street corner in Melbourne, prices are relatively low (especially on tap), and tipping isn't required. Learn the terminology: "a shout" means you're buying the round, and "lite" actually means low-alcohol, not low-calorie.

Where to Drink: You can pick up a "slab" of 24 cans for around a A$1 per can at massive alcohol supermarkets like Dan Murphy ( Or drink it on tap at Beer DeLuxe (, James Squire Brewhouse (, and the Local Taphouse (

Average price for a pint: A$5

Edinburgh, Scotland

Locals often boast that Edinburgh has the highest concentration of pubs in Europe. Who are we to argue? The Scots have been brewing hops for thousands of years, and the tradition of drinking continues in the pubs of Edinburgh.

Where to Drink: Visit the Halfway House ( for a revolving range of local cask beers; the historic Oxford Bar (; the Bow Bar on West Bow Street and the Canny Man's on Morningside Road for a selection of locally-brewed ales; and the Cumberland Bar (, known for its huge range of cask-conditioned ales and beer.

Average price for a pint: £3

Mexico City, Mexico

Mexico produces dozens of beers but only exports a handful of brands that have become household names in the U.S. A trip to Mexico City will open your eyes (and your mouth) to other tasty varieties, many brewed from century-old recipes. Regional pilsners, including Indio, Victoria, and Superior, are crisp and perfect to enjoy under the Mexican sun. The classic Germanic-style Noche Buena is only available seasonally from September to December.

Where to Drink: Try boutique beers by local brewers like Cervecería San Angel and the Santa Fe Beer Company. Cantinas and bars -- including Salon Corona II on Filomeno Mata, La Opera Bar on Av Cinco de Mayo, and La Terraza del Conquistador overlooking the Zócalo -- also carry a wide selection.

Average price for a pint: $2; you can find even cheaper options in smaller cantinas.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Once the nation's top beer-producing city and the base for four of the world's largest breweries (Schlitz, Pabst, Miller, and Blatz), Miller is now the only one that still calls Milwaukee home. Fortunately, the beer legacy survives in the form of the smaller breweries that have taken up residence -- and the aptly named baseball team: the Brewers.

Where to Drink: You'll never go thirsty at the Milwaukee Alehouse (, Roman's Pub (, and the Sugar Maple (, known to serve a selection of 60-plus U.S. craft beers. Sample more than 150 beers from over 50 breweries at Milwaukee's annual Beer Barons' World of Beer Festival (

Average price for tap beer: $3

Brussels, Belgium

Brussels is the center of Belgium's huge beer industry, where the alcohol content is high and the varieties are plentiful.

Where to Drink: Head to local watering holes, such as the Puppet Cellar at Poechenellekelder, the historic Mort Subite ( and Delirium (, which serves more than 2,000 types of beer: Le Bier Circus (, Le Falstaff (, and Le Cirio are also popular haunts offering Belgian blondes, browns, reds and everything in between (beers, not women). Experience 225 beers at the annual Belgium Beer Weekend ( each September. This year falls over Labor Day weekend (Sept. 3-5).

Average price for a beer: €3.50

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia -- the City of Brotherly Love -- knows that the best bonding can happen over a pint or two.

Where to Drink: Go to Johnny Brendas ( for local Pennsylvania beers; Standard Tap ( for a large selection of draught-only craft beers from Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey; Nodding Head Brewery ( for its own brew on tap; and Kraftwork ( for 25 local brews on tap and another 25 craft beers by the bottle. Philly Beer Week (, a 10-day series of beer-related events held each June, is a must-do for serious beer lovers.

Average price for a local craft beer on tap: $2.75 for an eight-ounce glass.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The 14 Best Places to Drink Beer (Part 1)

We've willingly drunk our way around the globe to uncover the best cities for drinking beer. Here are the top 14 places to indulge in ale, lager, stout, drought, pilsner, and more.

Dublin, Ireland

Renowned for producing Ireland's most famous export (Guinness), drinking beer is a way of life in Dublin. Despite the high prices, you'll find pubs and traditional alehouses full of happy patrons.

Where to Drink: No beer pilgrimage would be complete without the Guinness Storehouse tour (, which ends with the requisite free pint in the Gravity Bar. Perhaps the most celebrated beer institution is the Porterhouse ( and its nine exclusive beers. Throughout Dublin, local brews are served at hundreds of authentic pubs, including Dawson's Lounge, the traditional Stag's Head (, and the cool Solas (, which has a summer beer garden.

Average pint of lager: €4.50. Check out for more drinking venues.

Munich, Germany

More than 125 million gallons of beer are consumed annually in Munich, home of Oktoberfest and the Hofbräuhaus beer hall (

Where to Drink: Indulge in a classic Munich Helles pale lager from one of the city's six main breweries. Save time for the 11th-century Weihenstephan (, the world's oldest brewery. Munich also has several traditional beer gardens that are ideal drinking spots in the summer -- try Seehaus ( for its view of the lake and the white swans in the English Garden. The Chinese Tower Beer Garden, also in the English Garden, features live bands playing traditional Bavarian music.

Average price for a half liter: €3

Amsterdam, the Netherlands

The ancestral home of globally-recognized beers like Amstel, Heineken, and Grolsh, Amsterdam serves up dozens of styles, flavors, and labels.

Where to Drink: The Cracked Kettle ( is the place to buy your beer -- the shop stocks more than 500 types of beer and can ship internationally. If you want a place to sit down, try Café Gollem ( just across the road, serving nearly 200 beers; Cafe t'Arendsnest (, which has 100 varieties of purely Dutch beers from 50 breweries (of the 100 types, 30 are on tap); and IJ Brewery (, which has its very own windmill and a tour that lets you sample 10 organic beer varieties made on-site.

Average price for a pint: €3

Prague, Czech Republic

They certainly love their beer in Prague. Arguably the largest consumers of beers in world (more than 41 gallons per person per year), the Czechs are believed to have invented pilsner. The city also happens to be among the cheapest places in Europe for drinking amber ale.

Where to Drink: Choose from dozens of historic beer halls or swanky bars. Try the 15th-century U Fleku (, Bredovsky Dvur ( and U Vejvodu (

Average price for a half liter: 26 Czech koruna (about $1.25)

Vienna, Austria

Can't think of an Austrian beer? Well, that's probably because the best beers in Vienna come from boutique microbreweries, so you won't find them outside Europe. Microbreweries are especially popular, but conglomerate brewer groups like Bräu-Union ( also dominate the local market with brands like Gösser, Zipfer, Schwechate, Wieselburger, and Puntigamer.

Where to Drink: In Vienna, visit 1516 ( for homebrewed beers; 7 Sterne Bräu ( for seasonal Viennese non-filtered varieties; the 17th-century Gösser Bierklinik ( for Bräu Union beers and Bermuda Bräu ( for a range of traditional local draughts.

Average price for a pint: €4

Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo may not be cheap, but the beer is certainly easy to find: you can even buy cans from vending machines on the street (no ID is required). Although many pubs here try to cater to Western tastes and offer imported beers, most serve local varieties on tap. There is also a relatively new and vibrant Japanese craft beer scene (ji-biiru).

Where to Drink: Try Popeye ( for its selection of 70 beers on tap that includes many hard-to-find local craft brews; Craftheads ( for its draft and bottled beer; Ushi-Tora in Shimo-Kitazawa, which specializes in draft microbrews, Japanese beers, and a few international brews; and the Kura-Kura Bar ( in Kanda, which offers 12 craft brews on tap.

Average price for a pint of craft beer: ¥1,200; pick up Asahi, Kirin, or Sapporo at vending machines for around ¥250.

Portland, Oregon

The West Coast beer haven of Portland has more breweries per person than any other city in the U.S.: more than 30 at last count. Hops and barley are grown locally, so you know that your microbrew will be fresh and natural.

Where to Drink: Try drinking at home-grown breweries and taverns like Widmer Gasthaus (, the New Old Lompoc (, and Bridgeport ( If you want to drink more, arrange a ride through Portland's Brew Bus Tour (, which visits 20 city establishments. The Oregon Brewers Festival ( is held each July and features more than 80 craft beers.

Average price for a beer: $3.30 be continued with PART 2!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The best ticket prices when traveling with kids

The best ticket prices when traveling with kids

Many airlines offer discounts for young fliers. Also consider package rates. Taking the train instead? Amtrak has deals too. Another option: a cruise.

If you are flying with kids, you may be able to get a discount, depending on the children's ages and your destination. You can often find discounts on international routes of 10% to 25% off for kids ages 2 to 11.
Note that the discount is on the base fare and generally not on such fees as the fuel surcharge, which can be hundreds of dollars on international flights.
Note too that the airlines do not offer discounts on government taxes and fees. Airlines don't have control over those charges, unlike the fuel surcharge.
For domestic flights, kids younger than 2 usually can fly free as lap babies. On most international routes, there is a charge of 10% of the base fare, plus some taxes and fees, but in most cases you will not be required to pay the fuel surcharge. If you want to buy a seat for your infant younger than 2, the fare for kids ages 2 to 11 would apply on those airlines that offer a children's discount.
When flying with a lap infant abroad, contact Nonstop Travel to purchase tickets well before you depart, earlier, in fact, than you would if you were flying solo. If you are flying with a lap baby who will turn 2 before you return, most airlines require you to purchase a seat for BOTH legs - outbound and inbound.
There are kids' discounts on international flights to much of the world. If you plan to fly in business or first class, discounts for kids average 25%. Some airlines, by the way, don't allow kids younger than 12 in first class, so make sure you read all the fine print.
You often can find savings on family travel with package rates. Some packages, for instance, may contain kids-fly-free offers, although this is not as common as it used to be, thanks to reductions in airline capacity.
As you study prices (and you make a list or a spreadsheet of which airline is charging what for each person), look at the total cost to make sure you are getting the best fare. (Be sure to enter the number of passengers ages 2 to 11 to ensure the discounted rate.) Just because a child's discount is offered, don't take it for granted that it's the cheapest option. Be sure to comparison-shop just as you would when buying an adult ticket. And know that if you find a fare that's really great, you need to snag it because what you see today may not be there tomorrow. Keep in mind, sometimes airlines do NOT give discounts on the lowest fares, but on more expensive ones. Nonstop Travel can book mixed classes, so the adult is flying on the lowest fare possible and the children on a higher fare with a discount, so the bottom line will still be less.
If you are traveling by train, Amtrak offers 50% off fares for kids ages 2 to 15 on most routes when accompanied by a paying adult. (Up to two kids can get the discount for each adult.) Kids younger than 2 may travel for free if they sit on your lap. Visit
Many hotels allow kids up to 17 to stay and eat free when sharing a room with Mom and Dad. You also may see offers for 50% off a second room for families, which is helpful if you have teenagers whose schedule and entertainment preferences may not quite match your own.
Cruises may be another avenue to explore, especially given all the amenities for kids on some ships. (Make sure you check with a travel agent or do plenty of research to find out whether kids are a focal point or the options for kids are just an afterthought.) Keep an eye out for kids-cruise-free offers from lines such as Disney and NCL, and watch for offers of discounts for the third or fourth passenger in a cabin. The passenger could be your child, and even if that makes the cabin a little close, remember the family vacation is all about togetherness.