16. Asheville, NC
Like a breakdown of Jimmer Fredette’s college stats, it’s impossible to NOT talk about Asheville’s size in a conversation about its beer scene.
The breweries: Wicked Weed, Twin Leaf, Burial Beer, Hi-Wire, Catawba, Wedge, French Broad, Asheville, Highland
The bars: Thirsty Monk, The Bier Garden, Barley’s Taproom & Pizzeria, Jack of the Wood
15. Boston, MA
The Hub of the known universe was, at one point, the Hub of the modern craft beer world as well, thanks to a young gent named Jim Koch discovering his great-great grandfather’s beer recipe.
The breweries: Harpoon, Trillium Brewing Company, Boston Beer Company, Endurance Brewing, Pretty Things (Somerville)
The bars: Bukowski’s, Parish Cafe, Publick House, Deep Ellum, Sunset Grill & Tap, Lord Hobo, Row 34, The Lower Depths
14. Portland, ME
While the other Portland has hogged all the brewing attention and stolen Maine’s lumberjack fashion sense, the original Portland’s making its own waves -- and they’re less likely to make T-shirts about it.
The breweries: Allagash, Shipyard, Bunker Brewing, Peak Organic Brewing, Maine Beer Company
The bars: Great Lost Bear, Little Tap House, The King’s Head, Thirsty Pig, Duckfat
13. Burlington, VT
The nearby presence of Alchemist -- even if Heady Topper didn’t exist -- might be enough to get Burlington a spot among the greats. But, thankfully, the small city has so much more.
The breweries: Alchemist, Switchback, Infinity, Vermont Pub & Brewery
The bars: Farmouse Tap & Grill, Das Bierhaus, Hen of the Wood, Three Needs
12. Cleveland, OH
At the rate it’s going now, in 10 years Cleveland might soon have a serious shot at the top of every list of this type.
The breweries: Great Lakes, Market Garden, Indigo Imp, Fat Head's, Nano Brew, Butcher & the Brewer
The bars: McNulty’s Bier Markt, Tremont Taphouse, Johnny's Bar, City Tap Cleveland
11. Philadelphia, PA
An employee at a prominent Philly brewery explained it to us like this: Philadelphians are passionate people. And if they love you, they hardcore love you.
The breweries: Yards, Free Will Brewing, Philadelphia Brewing Co., Dock Street, Tired Hands, Victory
The bars: Monk's Cafe, Good Dog Bar, City Tap House, Johnny Brenda's, The Grey Lodge Pub
10. Minneapolis, MN
Not even 10 years ago, Surly sold its first keg. Since it was sold in Minneapolis, we're guessing that keg was difficult to tap because it was covered in 3ft of snow.
The breweries: Surly Brewing Co., Fulton Brewery, Summit Brewing Co., Dangerous Man Brewing Co., 612 Brew, Harriet Brewing, Indeed Brewing Company
The bars: Town Hall Brewery, Northbound Smokehouse & Brewpub, The Happy Gnome, Muddy Waters
9. Milwaukee, WI
The history of Milwaukee is basically a page in the history of American brewing. Pabst, Schlitz, Miller, Blatz -- hell, Milwaukee’s pretty much responsible for keeping everyone of your dad’s work buddies hydrated for more than a century.
The breweries: Lakefront, Water Street, Brenner, Milwaukee Brewing Co., Miller, Leinenkugel
The bars: Romans' Pub, Sugar Maple, Burnhearts, Nomad World Pub, Uber Tap Room, The Rumpus Room
8. Grand Rapids, MI
So obviously any discussion of beer in Grand Rapids has to start with Founders, on its way to becoming an international beer force thanks to a minority investment from Mahou San Miguel of Spain, though locals remain more focused on the simple joy of housing an enormous sandwich and some amazing beers in their taproom (and getting their hands on some KBS when it comes along). But there’s a vibrant scene beyond the big boys. Brewery Vivant has won over a legion of fans with its take on Belgian-style brews (and its duck confit nachos and gorgeous brewpub built in an old chapel). HopCat is as fine a beer bar as you’ll find anywhere (crack fries!)... so much so that they’re evolving into a mini beer empire with a growing number of Midwest outposts, but Grand Rapids will always be home. Oh, and they have some fine brews in their own right.
While several other Grand Rapids breweries are also developing strong followings (Mitten, Harmony), GR also has to get some points for the surrounding areas... most notably Kalamazoo, where you’ll find a little brewing outfit known as Bell’s (among others). Yes, they’re an hour apart, but you think you couldn’t spend an hour traveling in between some of these places in New York or San Diego? The point is, Michigan has one of the most vibrant, innovative, and locally loyal brewing cultures of any state in the union, and Grand Rapids anchors the state’s most prolific brewing region. Walk into any bar and you’re looking at dozens of seriously impressive beer options that were likely brewed within a quick car ride. It’s without question one of America’s finest places to enjoy beer.
The breweries: Founders, Brewery Vivant, Mitten, Harmony, Grand Rapids Brewing Company, HopCat
The bars: ALSO HopCat, Graydon’s Crossing, Logan’s Alley, Rezervoir Lounge
7. New York, NY
Some of these cities earned their rank because of a concentration of breweries, or maybe high-quality beer ubiquity that leads to a drinker’s ability to get four different imperial stouts at a Thai place.
The breweries: Brooklyn Brewery, Sixpoint, Other Half, Finback, SingleCut, Bronx Brewery, Evil Twin
The bars: Blind Tiger, Alewife, Proletariat, Alphabet City Beer Co., Rattle N Hum, Tørst, Jimmy’s No. 43, Bar Great Harry
6. San Francisco, CA
With its forward-thinking cocktail culture and the surrounding wine country, you’d think that SF’s beer scene would be an afterthought, but that is false, and upsetting.
The breweries: 21st Amendment Brewery, Almanac Beer Co., Anchor Brewing Co., Cellarmaker Brewing Co., Southern Pacific Brewing, Magnolia Brewery, Triple Voodoo Brewery
The bars: The Monk’s Kettle, Mikkeller Bar, Toronado, Magnolia Brewpub, Southern Pacific Brewing, La Trappe
5. Chicago, IL
There was a time early on in the craft beer boom when Chicago seemed to be lagging behind a bit, but it caught up in a hurry and then some.
The breweries: Goose Island, Half Acre, Pipeworks, Revolution, Off Color, Moody Tongue
The bars: Map Room, Hopleaf, Bangers & Lace, Local Option, Maria’s Packaged Goods, Fischman Liquors
4. Seattle, WA
Even without beer, Seattle would still be the beverage capital of America: they clearly dominate coffee (been to a Starbucks lately?), and booze (over half the country’s craft distilleries are in Washington State), and you could even make an argument for wine (ask someone from Napa where they’d rather be in 10 years), but who cares? Because they DO have beer... oh, do they have beer.
The breweries: Fremont Brewing, Reuben’s Brews, Black Raven Brewing, Georgetown Brewing, Stoup Brewing, Epic Ales, Pike Brewing Company
The bars: The Pine Box, Chuck’s Hop Shop, Beveridge Place Pub, The Burgundian, The Noble Fir, Brouwer’s Cafe
3. Denver, CO
Denver isn't the only Colorado town obsessed with beer -- Fort Collins birthed Odell and New Belgium, Oskar Blues is in Longmont, and Golden has this little outfit called Coors.
The breweries: Great Divide, Crooked Stave, Wynkoop, TRVE Brewing, Black Sky Brewery, Denver Beer Co., Renegade Brewing Co., Our Mutual Friend
The bars: Colorado Plus Brew Pub, Falling Rock, Euclid Hall, Historians Ale House, Highland Tap & Burger
2. San Diego, CA
You have consumed beer from San Diego. You absolutely, definitely have.
The breweries: Stone, Ballast Point, AleSmith, Green Flash, Alpine, Coronado, Pizza Port, Lost Abbey, Karl Strauss, Bagby, Mike Hess, Modern Times, Societe, way too many more to name
The bars: Hamilton’s Tavern, Blind Lady Ale House, Tiger!Tiger!, The Brew Project, Barrel Republic, Toronado, Draft, O’Brien’s Pub, Encinitas Ale Hous
1. Portland, OR
Movie theaters, arcades, putt putt courses, strip clubs, concerts, museums, tattoo parlors, optometrists’ offices, art galleries, and record shops. What do they all have in common? Those aren’t just great places to stage adult movies -- they’re all places where you’re likely to drink beer in Portland.
More than 70 breweries call the city-proper home (not including the sprawling suburbs), which places Portland as the city with the biggest volume of beer out there. Widmer Brothers -- who were on the cutting edge of craft beer when "craft beer" wasn’t even a phrase -- got their start here, laying the groundwork for some of the best brewers in the country to do their thing. And now, Portland’s ground zero for some of the best brewing in the country, from Breakside -- purveyors of this year’s GABF-winning IPA -- to the barrel-aged innovation of Cascade and Upright, the legendary Hair of the Dog, the weirdos at Gigantic, and newer guys like the great Ecliptic and Ex Novo, which is the city’s first nonprofit brewery.
And lest you think it’s all craft and snobbery, the city’s also credited with revitalizing Pabst for the younger crowd. Depending on your opinion of skinny jeans, you might have Portland to thank for keeping you hydrated and out of poverty. So while the city has its fair share of beer snobs (“supporters of native Oregon beer,” they call themselves), there’s really something for everybody in the City of Roses.
Add to that some of the best beer bars in the country, an endless parade of fests (ranging from the enormous Oregon Brewers Fest to the Fruit Beer Fest, Cheers to Belgian Beers, and Firkin Fest), bartenders leading the charge for beer/cocktail hybridization, and a brewing community that's more "love (and collaborate with) thy neighbor" than competitive, and you don’t just have a great beer city. You have the best damned beer city in the country.
The breweries: Breakside Brewery, Hair of the Dog, Gigantic, Cascade, Hopworks, Upright, Laurelwood, Widmer Brothers
The bars: Horse Brass Pub, Bailey’s Taproom, APEX, Imperial Bottle Shop, Saraveza, Belmont Station