In Zurich, Land of ‘Watered Down Pilsners,’ Craft Beer is Finally Infiltrating
Believe it or not, there are more breweries per capita in the tiny European country of Switzerland than anywhere else in the world. “A lot of people don’t know this,” says British-expat Michael Jones, co-founder of The International, Zurich’s first bar to carry a wide selection of craft beers.
Swiss beer drinkers have had little, if any, access to this style of beer because big beer companies like Carlsberg and Heineken historically controlled the market, limiting the variety of beer available for the Swiss, and subsequently influencing their drinking habits.
But a growing number of craft beer aficionados are diversifying what’s on the market—many of them concentrated in the northern city of Zurich. It was only a matter of time before places like The International opened. “We realized that craft beers were missing from the market,” Jones says. “So we decided to open the bar in the hopes of supporting more Swiss microbreweries, and bringing more attention to the range of variety of beer that we have here.”
Although the bar’s selection changes regularly, here are a few of Jones’s favorite Swiss selections:
BFM (Brasserie des Franches-Montagnes):
Located in the heart of the Swiss French Alps, BFM ages its beer like wine—in French oak barrels, delivering mouth-watering pale ales stamped with unique Swiss style.
Lagers are slowly replacing the country-wide preference for watered down Pilsners, and this brewery specializes in them.
Located in the French part of Switzerland, near Sainte Croix, Trois Dames’s beer is seasonally based with snazzy labels, reminiscent of Air France’s poster art from the 1950s. Their seasonal beers, such as Barbière Session d’Eté (The Summer Beer) or Barbière Session d’Automne, are dangerously drinkable.
Storm & Anchor:
“In Hops We Trust” is Storm & Anchor’s motto. Just 20 minutes outside of Zürich, this brewery is a favorite among city restaurateurs—despite the brewer’s habit of never brewing the same beer twice.
Near Bern, 523 is a great source for delicious IPAs (word on the street is they’re better than what Portland has to offer).