Whether it's on a night out, for a relaxed evening at home or for a festive occasion – Luxembourgers love their beer! The country's beer brewing tradition goes back to at least the 1300s, and today this beverage remains a favourite. Recently, craft beers have reached the Luxembourg market, and with this trend a number of small breweries have sprung up to create a host of fine beers for every taste.
What can you expect?
The major brands available in Luxembourg are Bofferding and Battin, owned by the Brasserie Nationale brewery, as well as Diekirch and Mousel, brewed by the Brasserie de Luxembourg, and Simon and Ourdaller, brewed by Brasserie Simon. These breweries produce mainly lager beers, i.e. light beers with a more or less pronounced bittery note.
You will find these beers for sale in any outlet, and all of the cafés and restaurants will serve one of them. However, many of the latter have a contract with a specific brewery, i.e. only sell a certain brand of the local beers, which is easily recognisable if you look at the sign outside.
Although Luxembourg was definitely not among the first countries to join the craft beer trend, it has had a deep impact on the beverage.
Lëtzebuergesch for beer lovers:
Wéi ee Béier hutt Dir vum Faass? (Which beer have you got on tap?)
Ee Mini wannechgelift (One Mini, please)
More Luxembourgish expressions here: An Intro to 'Lëtzebuergesch'
However, a large number of microbreweries have recently sprung up, and the traditional breweries have reacted to this by diversifying their own selection of beers. It's not uncommon these days to find IPAs, Belgian-style fruity beers, vegan or low-caloric beers from both, large companies and small microbreweries.
While the establishments usually are going to have only Luxembourgish beers on tap, many other beer nations are well represented in the country.
German Weizen beers (a type of wheat beer) are very popular, as none of the local breweries produces this style of beer. You are also certainly going to meet selections of Belgian beers, as Luxembourgers have also discovered their taste for the heavier, darker abbey beers of our neighbours. Due to the large Portuguese community, a selection of Portuguese beers are also readily available in most supermarkets and some local cafés. Finally, a selection of Irish and English beers are served in Irish or English-style pubs in Luxembourg, which cater to the large expat community from the isles.
Beers in all sizes
So, what are you going to order?
Beer comes in many shapes and sizes, which reflects the popularity of the beverage in Luxembourg:
- the Mini, i.e. 33cl, is the most common size you'll find in Luxembourg – if you just order 'a beer', that's what you'll get. It comes in a stocky glass, unlike
- the Flûte, also 33cl, which comes in a long, slender glass, traditionally reserved for women but today served everywhere;
- the Klensch, a 0.5 litre glass with a handle;
- the Humpen, a 0.5 litre earthenware mug that really looks the part.
And when do you order a beer in Luxembourg?
Luxembourgers may order a Mini at any occasion. This could just as well be a posh reception (although the 'Crémant' is more common here) as it could be an evening among friends or a night out clubbing. In a restaurant, wines are usually served with the different dishes, but beer is popular for aperitifs and, accompanied by a locally-distilled schnapps, as a digestif. Sometimes, you'll also hear a 'Picon' beer ordered, which is basically beer with an orange-based bitter – very tasty, but also somewhat stronger, so be careful.
Where can I get more information on beers?
There are two museums in Luxembourg dedicated to Luxembourg's beers, and both are really worth visiting:
- The Musée brassicole des deux Luxembourg (Brewing Museum of the Two Luxembourgs) in Diekirch, which presents the brewing traditions and long-lost recipes of a bygone era, when Belgium's Eastern region was still part of the Grand Duchy, and
- The Musée national d'art brassicole (National Museum of the Art of Brewing) in Wiltz, which sheds a light on Luxembourg's long tradition of brewing.
Some breweries have offers for visitors, e.g. Bofferding's guided tours and Diekirch's private museum.
Even so, the best way to get more information about Luxembourg's beers is to sit down on one of Luxembourg's many terraces or enter one of its many cafés and sample the results of a 700 year-old brewing tradition.
As we Luxembourgers say: Prost!