Top 16 Best Beer Cities in the US
Beer has been mentioned in some of the oldest writings known to exist, so it has become an integral part of cultures around the world. When immigrants from around the globe settled in the United States, they brought their beer brewing techniques with them. Everything from a pale, light beer to a dark and nutty brew is made right here in America.
If you are hoping to sample some of the best being offered, here are top 16 best American cities to consider. Keep in mind our travel list is ranked in no particular order, as there’s just too much to love in the good old USA.
1. Albuquerque, New Mexico
Straddling the Rio Grande in central New Mexico, The Duke City is a great locaton in general. Packed full of attractions, Albuquerque has two yearly festivals that celebrate beer. There is the ABQ Hopfest in October and there is also Albuquerque Beer Week, held in May. Breweries of note are peppered throughout the city.
The ABQ Brew Pub in Uptown offers up some locally crafted beers such as the famous Alien Amber Ale. Pale ale, lager, and the roasted-chile-infused Pancho Verde Chili Cerveza are all popular and distinct options at this bar, and local culture demands it be shared with friends! Bosque Brewing on San Mateo Boulevard offers up a menu of seasonal specials as well as permanent list of artisan brews.
If you are possessed of a charitable nature, you may also appreciate that Bosque Brewing donates $1 from every pint of seasonal ale sold towards helping families adopt children. The Broken Bottle Brewery on Coors is the place to go if you also want to enjoy some standard pub-style food and live music along with your beverage.
The Broken Bottle has unique beers such as pumpkin ale and a Steamy Lawyer, which is a steamed beer that carrier the undertone of cloves. If you are traveling to the southwest and enjoy a unique, locally-produced beer, plan a stop in Albuquerque and try out a few pints.
2. Chicago, Illinois
The flagship of the town’s beer community, Goose Island Brewery, is slated to close in early 2014, but their brews will continue to be offered up at several locations throughout the city. Goose Island’s award-winning beers, Matilda, Bourbon County Stout and 312 Urban Wheat Ale, are among those you don’t want to miss!
The Beer Bistro, located quite close to the United Center, has a gigantic selection of international craft beers, including 18 on tap, 114 varieties by the bottle and 40 in cans.
The food offerings run the gamut from fish and chips to awesome burgers, so bring your appetite along with your thirst. The Fountainhead, which features a seasonal rotation of both food and ales, is the place to go if you would like to try out something new.
Roots Pizza, on the near west side of town, offers up a unique malt-style pizza that is meant to be complimented by their huge selection of Midwestern beers. With 15 choices on tap, 70 in bottles and 60 in cans, you shouldn’t be leaving thirsty.
3. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The City of Brotherly Love has long been considered a drinking town, and the beer available in town will make you want to book another visit again soon. Local 44, a pub located in West Philadelphia, has an ever-changing assortment of craft beers on tap. If you like drafts, this is a must-see place.
The Nodding Head on Sansom Street is known for its delicious eats and quirky beers, such as Monkey Knife Fight, which is an Asian-inspired blonde lager or Grog, a dark, heavy beer. There are plenty more pub-crawling spots in Philly, many of which also have the famous Philly cheese steak sandwiches.
4. Fort Collins, Colorado
Hailed as the largest producer of beer in the state of Colorado, Fort Collins offers up everything from mass-produced, commercial beer to specialty microbrews.
You can tour the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Company and taste beer right from the source. You can also check out the gift shop and visit the world-known Clydesdale horses, as long as the team is not out on tour. You should also swing by the Fort Collins Brewery in downtown and sample their unusual and best-selling Major Tom’s Pomegranate Wheat beer.
Finally, head on over to Linden Street and pull up a chair at the New Belgium Brewing Company. Home of the wildly-popular Fat Tire Ale, this brewery is growing by leaps and bounds.
Other offerings there include six regular beers and a rotating menu of five specialty beers. The brewery is also known for its commitment to the environment, making it a popular destination for those who love nature.
5. Cleveland, Ohio
Often called ‘The Rock and Roll Capital of the World’, C-town is a rocking place to sample fine beers. If you are looking to crawl a few pubs, here are some spots you shouldn’t miss.
The Winking Lizard is a local chain that offers a yearly beer tour, as well as over 100 varieties on tap and in bottles. This is a family-friendly, sports-bar atmosphere that is a favorite with locals and out-of-town guests alike.
The Buckeye Beer Engine, which touts itself as a neighborhood bar, has a huge selection of drafts and bottles from around the world, as well a two oak-cask ales to sample.
This location is also noted for its burgers, which are considered among the best in the city. Finally, The Grovewood Tavern is an unobtrusive little bar tucked away in the city’s east side.
They have a huge selection of beers, including ales from Eastern Europe, in addition to a tasty menu full of bar food. If you visit Cleveland, these are the places you don’t want to miss.
6. Saint Louis, Missouri
Saint Louis is home to one of thirteen breweries in the Anheuser-Busch collective of breweries, so you have the opportunity to tour the plant and sample the beer fresh.
This is a great family-friendly outing that is also educational. Afterwards, stop in at the Griesedieck Brothers Brewery. The most popular beers from the Griesediecks include a golden pilsner and an unfiltered Bavarian-style wheat beer that is available in local bars all throughout the area.
You can also tour the brewery in the nearby town of Belleville. As your last stop in town, check out the Saint Louis Brewery. Home of the Schlafly brand of beers, this brewery ships to states in the southern US and up and down the Eastern Seaboard.
Located in the suburb of Maplewood lies The Schlafly Bottleworks, which also houses a produce market and an eatery to compliment their beers, which include pale ale on draft and 25 seasonal brews.
7. Asheville, North Carolina
Once crowned ‘Beer City USA’ by an online poll in celebration of Craft Beer Week, Asheville offers up an enormous selection of delicious beers, ranging from commercial ales to quirky microbrews. The city boasts nine craft breweries, which is the highest in the nation per capita.
Asheville also hosts a whopping five brew festivals a year and even has a ‘Beer Guy’ column in the local newspaper. The Brewtopian Society of Asheville has listed a complete list of tours that will help you experience all the best beers that the town has to offer.
If you want to do some pub-crawling on your own, The Asheville Brewing Company in downtown offers up a Fire Escape Ale that is brewed with jalapenos and packs quite a punch. If that’s not to your liking, they also have Rocket Girl Lager, which is a huge local favorite. The Thirsty Monk is another downtown favorite that makes nano-brews. This allows for a lot of variation between batches and yields such recipes as Cherry Chocolate Stout and Scotland Trainwreck. If you’re looking for originality, the Monk has it in spades.
8. Burlington, Vermont
Burlington has become a mecca in recent years for those hoping to sample a wide variety of awesome beer in a weekend, making the town very friendly to tourists. Some of the more popular pubs in town include the Switchback Brewery, the Vermont Pub and Brewery, and the Three Needs Brewery and Taproom, which relocated in January of 2012 and is currently resuming their brewing operation after moving the pub. Burlington Brew Tours offers a tour for every taste, from a designated driver van to a food and beer tour. No matter where your tastes lie, there is sure to be a great tour available soon.
9. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
For much of its history, the city of Milwaukee was touted at The Beer Capital of the World. Major brewers such as Miller, Pabst, Schlitz and Blatz made their homes here and took advantage of the ice available from Lake Michigan before refrigeration was available to create empires.
If you are hoping to sample some of the finest that Milwaukee has to offer, you have a ton of options. You can plan your trip to coincide with Beer Week, which is traditionally held in April, or you can go it alone.
If you’re pub-crawling, Mulligans Irish Pub and Grill is lauded for both its excellent beers and its sumptuous food offerings. The Blackbird Bar offers a lively patio atmosphere and a huge selection of local beers on tap and in bottles.
You also won’t want to miss The Harbor Room, if you are secure in your sexuality. A primarily gay bar, the place is known for its two-for-one beer special for anyone who goes topless, although the ladies do keep their bras on. The atmosphere is so fun and inviting and the beer so cold, you won’t want to miss it.
10. Boston, Massachusetts
Beantown is a fast-paced, older city with a plethora of beer venues to check out during your stay. The Harpoon Beer Hall attracts such crowds that the line will sometimes stretch out into the street, so arrive early.
Offering 19 varieties of Harpoon on tap, gigantic pretzels with dipping sauces and no television squawking away, this is a great place to enjoy the suds and take in the unique atmosphere of Boston. After sampling the beer at the Hall, get over to the Sunset Bar and Grill.
With over 380 varieties of beer, 112 of which are on tap, you can sample a lot of different beers to find a new favorite. This place also rotates their beer menu frequently and has scrupulous, gleaming taps and flights, which can help if you are not a big fan of germs. Finally, James’s Gate is an authentic Irish bar, complete with a gigantic flagstone fireplace, wooden tables and an eclectic selection of 20 beers on tap.
11. Portland, Oregon
Long considered an eccentric town and know for its rainy weather, music scene and coffee shops, Portland has quite a collection of outstanding pubs. If you plan to go bar-crawling on your own, there are three pubs you will not want to miss.
First, head up Broadway to the most authentic Scottish pub in Portland, the Rose and Thistle. Traditional Scottish foods, such as haggis, feature prominently on the menu, and the selection of beer available is both varied and ever-changing. They also offer indoor and outdoor seating, and children are welcome in the restaurant section which makes this a perfect stop for a family.
Next, you will want to take an evening and experience the McMenamin’s Bagdad Theater and Pub.
Instead of vapid televisions or tired pop music, The Bagdad focuses on a unique theater experience. They play a mix of older and newer titles and have a mix of local, regional and national beers to enjoy during the film. Their food is also top-notch bar fare. The beer and the experience is laid-back and fun.
Finally, you should visit Kell’s Irish Restaurant and Pub. One of the city’s best-known pubs, the place is always packed to the walls. However, a large crew of servers and bartenders keep waits to a minimum. The beers offered are Irish and span from the relative unknown to the most popular from the Emerald Isle. If you can handle crowds and love the energy of a hopping pub, this is a can’t-miss opportunity.
12. Seattle, Washington
While the town is known largely for its coffee, Seattle offers a lively bar and pub scene that offers a ton of variety. The Beveridge Place Pub should definitely be on your list of places to visit. The ambiance is friendly and welcoming, and the beer selection is outstanding. While they don’t have the enormous selection some pubs offer, they do operate 25 to 30 taps.
Eight taps are dedicated to house favorites like Boundary Bay IPA and Schooner Exact Gallant Maiden Hefeweizen. The others feature a constantly-rotating selection of Washington beers with lots of locations and tastes being represented.
Next, stop in at Brouwers on Freemont. With 64 beers on draft and hundreds of bottles in refrigerators, this is a mecca for beer lovers. The menu is impressive and the atmosphere is fun and energetic.
Finally, head over to The Triangle Pub in Pioneer Square. The place is a Seattle tradition and has an awesome menu of good pub food and a wide selection of beers from both the local area and the state.
13. San Diego, California
San Diego has a lot of unique and tasty beers, including alpine, stone, ballast and green flash varieties. The Blind Lady Ale House is an award-winning pub over on Adams Avenue that offers a huge selection of microbrews from the surrounding area and several from more far-flung locations. Lunch is served six days a week as well, making it a great stop for mid-afternoon dining and tasting.
The Dublin Square Irish Pub is an exact replica of a Dublin pub, and the fare here is all Ireland. You can enjoy a few pints and munch on traditional Irish feasts such as lamb stew or shepherd’s pie. You won’t want to miss this authentic and pleasant little tavern.
14. San Francisco, California
If you are planning a trip to Frisco, you need to make a point to try out some of the excellent local breweries. The 21st Amendment Brewery puts out seven delicious, hand-crafted ales, including IPA, wheat ale, Imperial IPA, Black IPA, Belgian Dark Ale, Extra Pale Ale, and Winter Spiced Ale.
Depending on when you visit, they also craft some seasonal brews, such as Watermelon Ale in spring or Myer’s Scotch Ale in the fall. You should also sample the Rainbow Stout offered at the San Francisco Brewing Company over near Chinatown.
They also produce the Liberator Doppelbock, which is a heavy, high-alcohol content beer that satisfies very well. Also head over to the Thirsty Bear near the Giants’ stadium if you happen to be visiting on a Tuesday night. That is when they tap a special cask-conditioned stout.
Arrive early, because it is only served until the single cask is gone! You never know what flavors might be incorporated, so this is a fun place to try out something unique.
15. Grand Rapids (Kalamazoo and Battle Creek Area), Michigan
For those visiting this general area of Michigan, there is a lot to choose from when it comes to microbrews and awesome pubs. In Battle Creek, the Arcadia Brewing Company specialized in British-style ales. Using hops from the Pacific Northwest, malted barley shipped from England, and Ringwood yeast, you will think you’re drinking in a London pub.
In Kalamazoo, Shakespeare’s Pub is known for its 45 taps that run the range of tastes from Green Pumpkin Milk Stout to Unicorn Killer. Finally, in Grand Rapids, the Hopcat was voted the third-best beer bar in the world by The Beer Advocate. Boasting 48 gleaming taps and offering a dog-friendly environment, this is one pub you won’t want to miss.
16. Bend, Oregon
If you’re in Bend and thirsty, the Silver Moon Brewery is one of the best in the city. Offering eight taps full of house, hand-crafted flavors ranging from Snakebite Porter to Lifeguard Blonde, there is a taste for everyone here.
Their food offerings are also top-notch, and the bar staff is huge and helpful. The Deschutes Brewery and Public House is another great place to visit if you are both hungry and thirsty. The beer selection is huge and the chicken sandwiches are considered the best in town.
Finally, hit the brewery tour at Ten Barrels Brewing. Tours are offered on Fridays from three to four, and the tap room is open 11 to 11 every day. Come thirsty, as they have a huge selection of house brews and regional favorites.