European Beer Collection: 500 Years of History in One Box

Take a tour through Europe with our collection of 10 beers from five European countries.

Webster Barnes (Sponsored) Feb 6, 2024 - 11 min read

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A lot of attention is given these days to “handmade,” “small batch,” and—of course—“craft.” What is craft, and how should it be defined? We think that craft should include high-quality ingredients, expert brewing knowledge and practices, excellent water, and a commitment to unique beers that speak to consumers while still remembering where they came from.

With that in mind, we have curated a collection of 10 beers from five European countries for the Limited Edition European Beer Collection that is available at most Costco locations. Our goal when visiting breweries, sampling beers, and meeting the families behind them was to find a diverse collection of craft beers that represent the best of local ingredients as well as deep brewing knowledge that incorporates both old and new approaches.

For our European Beer Collection, we have assembled beers from many of the oldest and most revered beer-producing regions. We have beers being brewed by first-generation brewers at a small brewery in the north of France as well as beer from a Slovakian brewery with more than 550 years of experience in their craft. We have completed this collection with a larger family brewery from Germany and older established breweries in both Poland and Czechia.

Here we profile the contributing breweries for our European Beer Collection. All are proud families producing beers that speak to their native regions and brewing techniques.

Privatbrauerei Eichbaum (Germany)

Eichbaum’s history dates back to 1679, when it was founded by Jean du Chêne in the Palatine region near the border between Germany and France. Meaning “oak tree” in French, his name was later Germanized to Eichbaum, the direct translation of “oak tree” into German.

The brewery began as a small brewpub, and while the specific location may have changed, it remains based in Mannheim. While it is the oldest company in Mannheim, it is also one of the most modern, with state-of-the-art bottling and brewing technologies. They are proud of their balance of traditional brewing techniques and recipes and their modern facility that assures quality and consistency in every can.

The brewery faced a significant challenge during World War II when the Nazis nationalized the company. Production ceased during the war, but post war, Eichbaum experienced a resurgence. It became the main beer supplier for the American army based in Germany.

With more than 335 years of brewing traditions and experience, Eichbaum beers have been awarded medals from the Deutsche Landwirtschafts-Gesellschaft (DLG—German Agricultural Society) for their quality.

German Beer in the Collection

Löwe Vom Rhein Wheat Beer. A rich, tangy, creamy take on this quintessentially German style. Notes of banana bread and nutmeg on the palate lead to subtle nuances of honey and white fruits in the midpalate. Löwe Vom Rhein finishes slightly tart, with an echoing yeasty note.

Schaumstoffherz Lager. A spicy, refreshing style that balances floral, honeyed aromas with graham-cracker notes and a toasty, malty sweetness on the palate. The finish is clean and crisp, with a touch of dryness that invites another sip.

Brasserie De Sutter (France)

De Sutter was founded in 2008 by Antoine and Frédéric De Sutter in Bazincourt-sur-Epte. Encouraged by their friends and family for their initial homebrews and coming from a family of grain farmers, Antoine and Frédéric quickly issued their first range of beers. After they received recognition for their quality products, they began operations at a brand-new, state-of-the-art facility in 2012. They are dedicated to producing small-batch, high-end craft beers.

With strong environmental values, the De Sutter family is very conscience of their environmental impact. The brewery was ISO 14001-certified in June 2022. (ISO 14001 is the internationally recognized standard for environmental management systems.) All the electricity for the brewery comes from renewable-energy sources. And all their packaging materials are locally produced to limit CO2 emissions for their beers.

The success of their Les Folies line of beers has allowed them to move into wider distribution of their beers while still retaining their original objective of sustainable development and the production of beers that make them proud.

French Beer in the Collection

La Givrée white pale ale. The first sip reveals a refreshing and well-balanced flavor profile. The prominent wheat base creates a smooth and slightly creamy mouthfeel. Citrus flavors shine through, with bright orange and lemon zest adding a zesty and tangy twist. The coriander notes that emerge in the midpalate lend a gentle spiciness that complements the beer’s fruity tones.

La Folle Furieuz triple pale ale. A generous malt backbone imparts a mild sweetness of honeyed biscuits and hints of toasted caramel. La Folle Furieuz is a powerful beer that showcases a captivating blend of tropical fruits followed by a zesty citrus tang that enlivens the palate. The bitterness, though present, remains restrained on the long, persistent finish.

Brin de Folie pale ale. The first sip of Brin de Folie reveals a harmonious blend of floral and grassy hops, lending a mild bitterness that is neither overpowering nor astringent. This bitterness is elegantly balanced by a solid malt profile, featuring light, biscuity notes that provide a smooth transition to a fresh, clean finish.

Brnovar Brewery (Czechia)

Established in Bohemia in 1872, Brnovar brews its beers traditionally with a double-decoction mash, wort boiling, and hopping. The brewery is located in southwest Czechia’s lake country, an area characterized by lush green fields and a serene, peaceful landscape. The beers reflect the essence of this pristine natural environment and are made using pure ingredients sourced locally, including Moravian malt, Noble Czech hops, and pristine water from artesian wells.

Czech Beer in the Collection

Vltavan lager. The first sip reveals a well-balanced and refreshing flavor profile. A foundation of bready malt provides a smooth and slightly sweet base, complemented by hints of marmalade and caramel.

TUP Czech Lager. A bready, biscuity malt backbone is balanced by notes of toffee and mild honey, given framework by a tangy hoppy bitterness. The sweet/savory/spicy balance in the midpalate gives way to a satisfyingly clean finish.

Pivovar Steiger (Slovakia)

Continuously brewing since 1473, this producer is the oldest recorded Slovak brewery. It was founded by monks in Vyhne in the Stiavnica Mountains. The monks first recognized the quality of the local water when producing brews for themselves as well as for people passing through on their way to the Hron Valley.

To answer growing demand, a new building was started in 1765 by architect Jozef Bircher. Once the brewery was blessed, it became fully operational in January 1769. In 1903, capacity reached 15,000 hectoliters.

In 1944, the brewery was under direct German administration, providing financial assistance and its truck. After reconstruction and overcoming a lack of barley, beer production resumed in September 1945. From the beginning, the goal remained the same: the production of high-quality and traditional beer using classic techniques developed over the centuries.

In 2007, the name was officially changed to Pivovar Steiger. In 2023, the brewery celebrated its 550th anniversary.

Slovak Beer in the Collection

Pokojny Medved’ lager. Crisp and refreshing, showcasing a malty sweetness with a touch of saline crispness. Hints of lime, spice, and a mild hoppy bitterness on the finish.

Browar Rotmistrz (Poland)

The brewery producing Rotmistrz is on a site that was founded in 1688 as a spa because of the quality of the spring water. These springs became the basis for the development of the spa industry in Połczyn-Zdrój. The healing properties of the waters have permanently shaped the town’s character and allowed it to become a dynamically developing spa town. In 1705, Jakub von Krockow, Jr., built the first spa house here.

The region’s renowned waters allowed it to become a mecca for local brewing. By 1782, there were 12 breweries in the area. Browar Rotmistrz is one of the oldest breweries of this type in Poland. It was established in 1825, when Herman Fuhrmann took a loan of 500 Reichsthalers (more than three times the amount of money to sustain a family of five at the time!) from a local banker and bought the Seringa Brewery. The Fuhrmann family owned the plant until the end of World War II. By then, the company was developing, and thanks to the established railway line, beer from Połczyn could be sold over a larger area and pleased the palates of beer lovers throughout Pomerania. It was at this time one of the largest breweries in Germany and became a Polish brewery in 1945 following the end of World War II.

Polish Beer in the Collection

Rotmistrz IPA/Lager. In this IPA/lager hybrid, the classic IPA hoppiness is balanced by a smooth, malty lager character. Zesty grapefruit and juicy orange flavors up front are supported by a biscuity caramel in the midpalate, and the beer finishes with a pleasant, slightly resinous aftertaste.

Rotmistrz Pilsner. A pronounced hoppy spiciness weaves in alongside a mild herbal quality, imparting a mild bitterness that never overpowers the sweetness of the malt backbone. The finish is clean, crisp, and refreshing, leaving a slight dryness that invites another sip.

A Taste of the Old World

Beer has always been an essential part of the European socio-cultural framework. Each country’s local ingredients and brewing traditions result in unique and endlessly fascinating styles. Enjoy a taste of the Old World in every can of our European Beer Collection. Check it out for yourself at a Costco near you.

Established in 2015, Webster Barnes draws upon more than 50 years of collective beverage-industry experience. We work with a network of producers from more than 20 countries spanning six continents, choosing only the highest quality labels to include in our portfolio. We are importers, consultants, market experts, artists, and brand builders.