America's 5 Best Beer Cities
To help turn your summer escape into a beercation, Joshua M. Bernstein, author of The Complete Beer Course, shares his shortlist of five burgs where the cutting-edge craft beer is worthy of a stopover, or even an extended stay.
Your first stop in this comfort food-and-drink paradise is Wedge Brewing Company for a pitcher of the brisk and thirst-quenching Julian Price Pilsner. Take it outside and sip it in the sculpture-filled courtyard, chomp some local green-boiled peanuts and watch the freight trains snake by.
Wicked Weed Brewing makes—you guessed it—super hop-heavy behemoths. The get: Freak of Nature Double IPA.
At Oyster House Brewing Company, sidle up for a silky and bright Moonstone Oyster Stout, which will balance out your bivalve’s briny nuances.
At Altamont Brewing Co., where bluegrass bands strum almost daily, foosball and ping-pong are free and house-made beers, like the ESB, are served straight from the giant conditioning brew tank.
Later this summer, California craft stalwart Sierra Nevada will debut its first East Coast brewery. Our advice: Buy tickets for its August 3 kickoff party and beer blast.
Housed in a refurbished gas station, the patio at Denver Beer Co. is packed with locals—and their pooches—playing Battleship and Connect 4. The brews to buy: the campfire-touched Graham Cracker Porter and the refreshing Kaffir Lime Wheat—and any and all of its seasonal suds.
Beer geeks flock from around the country for the funky, wild yeast–fueled fermentations at Crooked Stave. Get the tart, vinous Surette. Tip: Brewers often trot out experimental beers on Tuesday evenings.
In Boulder, clock some time at this town’s best new breweries: Fate Brewing Company and Sanitas Brewing Company. At FATE, you’ll need its Coffee IPA to help you stay awake when you tuck in with the must-try hoisin-coated ribs. At Sanitas, sip the Saison, with its stone-fruit and grass aromas, on its deck and take in the Rocky Mountain view.
At Yards Brewing Company, weekend brewery tours wrap in the taproom, which sports a standup shuffleboard. The order: Love Stout.
Philadelphia Brewing Co. has free Saturday tours and includes five samples. The standouts: the hazy Walt Wit and the Kenzinger, an easy-drinking Munich Helles-style lager. F Just outside Philly’s city limits lie some of the region’s most exciting beer bastions.
Nestled inside a 1880s Victorian home, Forest & Main Brewery & Pub focuses on British- and Belgian-style brews like the zesty Upward Facing Eyes. Don’t miss the bacon popcorn.
Brewmaster Jean Brouillet transformed a doctor’s office into the popular Tired Hands Brewing Company. Arrive early to guarantee a pour of tropical HopHands and the crazy-grassy SaisonHands. Tips: Order any beer they age in a wine barrel—and try the pickles.
Biking and organic beer are celebrated at Hopworks Urban Brewery and nearby sister spot Hopworks BikeBar, where bicycle frames adorn the bar. Your beer: the latest IPX offering. Ask the bartendeers, who have off-the-charts beer-IQs, about the brews and prepare for a fun-as-hell hops schooling.
At Cascade Brewing Barrel House, down the mouth-puckering fruit-fermented elixirs—especially those with grapes or apricots.
The Commons crushes it with the floral and fruity Flemish Kiss, a World Cup Of Beer-winning Belgian-style pale ale.
After riding an elevator down to Upright Brewing, play a round of Rack-O—Upright’s official card game—while sipping on its rye-heavy Six.
It takes a lot of beer to make wine, and Santa Rosa’s Russian River Brewing Company has become a fast favorite with local wine workers and the world’s beer critics alike. Order the smooth Pliny the Elder Double IPA or Consecration, a sour ale aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels.
Around the corner, Third Street Ale Works has bold-but-refreshing Blarney Sisters’ Dry Irish Stout. On Tuesdays, $5 gets you a pint and a bratwurst.
At sleek Fogbelt Brewing Company, founders Remy Martin and Paul Hawley—both winemakers’ sons—use only Cali-grown hops. Try the the piny Hyperion Red Ale. Sip it the communal tables and hang with the local wine pros.
Head to Sebastopol for the video game–themed Warped Brewing Company. Try the molasses-driven Pixelated Porter.
At Woodfour Brewing Company, Mondays means $3 pints. Camp out on the patio and order the Sour Farmhouse Ale, or the fruity and white-peppery Saison—or both.
San Diego: Modern Times Beer, Societe Brewing Company and Rip Current Brewing continue the city’s proud IPA-brewing tradition.
San Francisco: Tip the ipas at Cellarmaker Brewing Co., and the oak-aged sour beers at The Rare Barrel in nearby Berkeley.
Chicago: The culinary-inspired beers at Moody Tongue and the aromatic ales at Half Acre Beer Company are some of the Midwest’s best.
Austin: Local all-star Jester King Brewery uses yeast captured from the Hill Country to ferment its brews.
Santa Barbara: Telegraph Brewing’s tart brews and Hollister Brewing’s eclectic, refreshing ales help this sunny city’s beer scene shine.
- 2Asheville, North Carolina
- 5Portland, Oregon
- 6Santa Rosa, California
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