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Ultimate Guide to the Best Beer Cities for Your Next Beercation

by Caitlin J
Boat Tours in Chicago

Beer is one of the most consumed alcoholic products in the world. Which means it’s incredibly easy to find the stuff wherever you go. 

But what if you want to go where the best beer is? No worries! There are plenty of beer cities in the United States that will quench your thirst– and then some.

Ya’ll, seems like travel is on the menu for 2022! That being said, I want to share my top travel destinations for beer lovers in 2022 and beyond.

Some of these cities I’ve been to before, and some I’m hoping to visit this year. Either way, all 15 of these beercation cities are handpicked by yours truly.

Cities on the list made it here because they offer a few things, but most importantly they offer tons of amazing beer experiences. Plus, stuff us beer geeks like to do when we aren’t visiting a new taproom.

Asheville Craft Beer

Best Beer Cities in the US for Your Next Beercation

This blog was inspired by traveling to new breweries and exploring their neighborhoods. I feel it’s such a good way to see a city (or town!).

Now, I’ve done my fair share of beercations… From Oktoberfest in Munich to the Great American Beer Festival. And I also have a list of beer cities to visit that seem to never get shorter. 

And there is a mix of both on this list. You’ll find cities steeped in beer history, and you’ll find beer scenes that are young, but growing fast. 

Here is my list of the best beer cities in the US to help you plan your next vacation…

Asheville, North Carolina

Asheville Breweries

Asheville is a small little town hidden in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. It’s also home to America’s highest number of breweries per person (28 per 100,00 residents)! There are 30+ breweries in city limits alone. 

Since the town is so small, it’s highly-walkable. You can stay in town, or rent a car and explore some of the breweries nestled into the nearby mountains.

Asheville Breweries
Asheville Breweries

Asheville was my first ‘beercation’. I went back in 2015-ish, years before I was involved in craft beer like I am now. And then I finally got to return last year on a road trip I did in the fall. Which is my favorite time to go!

If you want to know more about Asheville breweries and why it is one of the best beer cities in America, check out these Big World, Small Girl blog posts:

Bend, Oregon

I have yet to visit Bend myself, but the place is high on my list! This mountain town has a bit of everything going on. It’s got a high desert climate, while also having amazing river views, mountains you can hike on, and lots of activities fit for everyone! 

One of the most popular activities in the region though is drinking some great beer. There are 29 breweries working day and night to fit the town’s demands! 

deschutes brewery virginia

If you’re visiting Bend, make sure you visit:

  • Deschutes Brewery: (pictured above) They’ve got 3 decades of beer-making experience and are particularly great at dark beers. 
  • Spider City Brewing Company: This brewery is run entirely by women that make incredible, simple, clean beer! 
  • Crux Fermentation Project: They make several different types of beer, in old ways and new so there’s something there for everyone! 

If you’re more of a festival type of person, make sure to check out the Bend Brewfest held in August! During this two-day festival, hundreds of rare and popular beers from the region come together in one place for two whole days of drinking and enjoyment! 

Boston, Massachusetts

While I haven’t gone on a full-on beercation in Boston either, one of the reasons it’s on my list is the uniqueness of the city when it comes to the beer scene. 

First up, there are lots of great hazy IPAs throughout the place, but when we’re going into specifics, there are some breweries that totally stand out here. 

  • Harpoon Brewery: This unique employee-owned brewery is the one that collaborated with Dunkin’ for their donut beers too! 
  • Trillium Brewing Company: They’re known for their double and triple IPAs but depending on when you go, there might also be a seasonal brew on the menu! 
  • Night Shift Brewing: This is one of those breweries that can do it all. From barrel-aged beers, lagers, sours, and dark beers, they’ve got it all.

As for the bigger events, Extreme Beer Fest is the one to try. They either hold them virtually or in person, and it’s a day filled with everything beer! 

Brooklyn, New York

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I went to New York for the first time over Christmas, and while there are lots of things to do in NYC, trying out all of the amazing beer options has to be one of my favorite things! Although during my trip I realized that if you want good NYC beer, Brooklyn is the place to be! Since no brewery wants to pay NYC rent, almost all 40 breweries in the region are in Brooklyn! 

Here are some of the best breweries in NYC you need to check out! 

  • Grimm Artisanal Ales: Although this brewery hasn’t been around for decades, it’s one that the people demanded because they are amazing at making classic Ales, IPAs, sours, and much more! 
  • Finback Brewery: Finback is one of the newer breweries on the block and has some of the most unique beers in the city! Most bars in the area have their draft beers, but head over to their own tasting room to try out all they have to offer! 
  • Brooklyn Brewery: Those looking to get a taste of the classic beers of NYC, have to spend a day at the Brooklyn Brewery because that’s their specialty!
  • Other Half Brewing Company: If you’re a fan of all things artistic, you’ll love a visit to this one because they bring art and beer together into one great can! 

Burlington, Vermont

Even though I haven’t been to Burlington myself, I constantly hear about the place from my peers! This is a tiny town, but it’s packed with craft beer. The great thing about this place is that since you’re in New England, you can even venture out to great beer areas too! Burlington has around 15 craft breweries with a population of 45,000, but people from all over the states come to try them out! 

  • Zero Gravity Brewery: At Zero gravity, you get 4 beers on tap, in a very gorgeous, outdoor airy seating with blooming gardens all around you! 
  • Burlington Beer Company: This one’s got 19 beers on tap, industrial vibes all over, and great food to go along with it! 
  • Switchback Brewing Co.: This brewery does every type of beer well, but, the one people flock to the place for has to be their incredible smoked beers! 
  • Four Quarters Brewing: Their IPAs are the most popular, but they’ve got some great sours too!

Those that want to try all of that at once, should try out the Vermont Brewers Festival Burlington, that’s held at Waterfront Park in Late July every year. The festival celebrates beers in one of the most elaborate festivals in the country! 

Chicago, Illinois

Things to Do in Chicago

I visited the big bean last year, and was surprised at how great the craft beer scene is here! There are currently an insane 160 breweries throughout the city! I didn’t get to go to many of them throughout the city because there’s already so many things to do in Chicago, but the ones that I did go to blew my mind and I’ll definitely be going back! 

  • Half Acre Beer Company: Half Acre is one of the most popular breweries in the world, and this is the original location. This is a brewpub where you can have great food and amazing beer! The Daisy Cutter and Tuna are a must-have here!
  • Keeping Together: Keeping together brings world-class mixed culture farmhouse-style to the streets of Chicago! Visitors can have a unique, collaborative experience at the brewery and enjoy some great beer. 
Breweries in Chicago
  • Greenstar Brewery: Greenstar was the first certified organic brewery in Illinois, which just makes it unique from the get-go. They’ve got 6 guest taps and you should give each of them a shot!
  • Revolution Brewing: If you’re a fan of the industrial, grungy vibe, you’re going to love it here! Their brewery is beautiful, and their beer, equally so!

Cincinnati, Ohio 

Cincinnati is one of the top beer cities on my bucket list. The “Paris of America.” was practically raised on beer. With that comes some incredible breweries too! Throughout the city, you can find a whopping 57 breweries, each dedicated to their craft and providing a great experience. The only problem here would be trying to choose which ones to visit on your trip! 

All 57 might take you ages to get through, but here are the top 4 that I’d totally recommend!

  • Rhinegeist Brewery: This is one of the most unique breweries I’ve ever seen. The open cafeteria-style setup is super welcoming and different, and a huge selection of beer! 
  • Fibonacci Brewing Company: This is a brewery that specializes in what they call “hybrid beers.” Quite a fun concept that you should definitely check out too!
  • Urban Artifact: You probably never thought of visiting a brewery inside a church, but this one’s just that! The main brewery is in an old gym onsite, and they serve beer on tap throughout their gorgeous courtyard! A fun, different experience! 
  • Moerlein Lager House: This one’s more of a micro-brewery, yet, their  Christian Moerlein brews are so good that it brings in visitors from all over the country every year!

Want all of it in one place? Cincy Winter Beer Fest, hosted by Rhinegiest brewery is the way to go! They set up the festival every April and bring together over 400+ craft beers from the region. So if you’re really trying to catch ‘em all, this is where you should do it!

Fort Worth, Texas

fort worth brewery

Even though Fort Worth is often lumped together with Dallas, it rightly deserves its own recognition.  Fort Worth is one of the fastest growing cities in the country! 

Just as the number of people are growing, so are the number of craft breweries in the area. There are nearly a dozen breweries in Fort Worth and surrounding towns (with that number only continuing to grow). 

And if you’re planning a long beercation, make your way over to Dallas to explore their bountiful craft beer scene!

Louisville, Kentucky

Best Louisville Breweries

I’ve very recently made my way to Louisville, and since the city is known for having incredible bourbon and the infamous Kentucky Derby Horse races, I was super surprised to find out that there are 21 breweries in the city! Turns out, craft beer is starting to become a pretty big deal in the city! 

If you’re trying to do a massive bar crawl here, check out my brewery guide for Louisville, but if you’re short on time, here are the breweries you just can’t miss! 

Falls City Beer: Here, you can find 12 selections of beer available throughout the year. The English-Style Pale Ale is particularly popular but they also carry several types of wines! So there’s a little something for everyone!

Louisville-Breweries

Against the Grain: This is one of those places that you can spend hours in! Great beer, and a lovely restaurant setting!

Monnik Beer Company: This place is the ultimate “complete package”. The dark and grungy set up is beautiful to look at, the 12 beers on tap makes for a day of tasting and you still won’t have enough, and the food is downright incredible! 

Gravely Brewing Company: With this music brewery, you get it all. Great beers on tap, amazing food, lots of music and the view from the top patio will make you want to stay there through the night! 

Those looking for the ultimate Louisville beer adventure should check out ​​Tailspin Ale Fest, I went there myself last time and I had a blast!

Milwaukee, Wisconsin 

patron saint of beer
The courtyard at Pabst’s Best Place

Let’s start with one of the OG Beer Cities! I love Milwaukee and the summer is a great time to take a beer vacation here. I mean unless you like snow… then by all means head up north during the winter!

But seriously, Milwaukee has a richly brewed beer history, (Pabst is from here!) and its craft beer scene is decades older than most of the other beer cities on this list. And you know what they say, everything gets better with age!

Here are some of the best things to do in Milwaukee on your beer vacation:

  • Tour the Coors Campus
  • Eat ALL the cheese curds!
  • Stock up on New Glarus 

Portland, Maine

While I haven’t been to Portland myself yet, I’m very intrigued by the city and really want to visit! That’s partly because of the collaboration beer project happening in 2022! This is where the breweries in Portland, 70 to be exact, come together to make beer using the same ingredients, but their own yeasts and brewing techniques! It’s an amazing idea to see how different each brewery makes their beer! 

But, if you’re looking for the brewery experience here are my top 4 recommendations! 

  • Rising Tide Brewing Company: This is one of the coziest breweries I’ve ever seen. There are indoor and outdoor seating areas, firepits, great beer and good food!
  • Allagash Brewing Company: This one is easily the biggest in the area, and most recognizable on a national level because of how great their beer selection is.
  • Goodfire Brewing Company: Those that like New England style beer have to give this one a shot because that’s their most popular beer! Plus, they’ve got a very adorable brewery pup that would love to show you around the place! 
  • Bissell Brothers Brewing Company: If you’re a fan of darker ales, try out their Kentucky dark cream ale and you won’t regret it. Their dark ales surpass the level of anyone else’s in the area, and are a must try!

Richmond, Virginia

Richmond Breweries

Quench your thirst in Virginia’s capital, and see why Vinepair named RVA the #1 beer destination in the world for 2018.  With more than 30 craft breweries and more on the way, it’s also clear why the Wall Street Journal said Richmond “is home to one of the region’s fastest-growing beer scenes.”

Richmond, VA has had a long love affair with craft beer. This region’s history has been intertwined with beer culture going back more than 150 years. Richmond was even the first place where beer was sold in a can back in 1935.

For a complete guide to the best Richmond Breweries, check out this Big World, Small Girl post!

Richmond Breweries

Best Beer in Richmond, Virginia

The Veil Brewing | Website Brewery in Scott’s Addition focused on hop-forward ales, high gravity barrel aging, and spontaneous fermentation.Grab the official Richmond Beer Trail Map here.

Hardywood | Website Brewery that makes & serves its beer in a 12,0000-ft. warehouse space with occasional food trucks. I love them for their seasonal Gingerbread Stout! 

Mekong Vietnamese restaurant

Mekong Restaurant (pictured above)  | Website Unassuming Vietnamese eatery with an accolade-winning craft beer selection & expansive food menu. 

The Answer Brewpub  | Website Owned by Mekong and located right next door to the world-famous beer bar.

Legend Brewing | Website Down-to-earth pub offering a typical bar-food menu & its own brews, plus a huge deck with perfect views of the downtown skyline.

San Diego, California

ballast point

Believe it or not, I haven’t been to San Diego yet! Although it’s a wine country, it celebrates beer the same way! There are over 150 breweries in the city, and lots of beer festivals held here every year like the San Diego Beer Festival and the San Diego Brew Fest

San Diego kills it with their Double IPA beers. So much so that they’re known as San Diego Pale Ales! 

While the festivals are great, it’s hard to catch them if you haven’t been planning on going to them already. So if you miss them, here are some of the best breweries in the area you have to visit! 

ballast point brewery virginia -41
  • Ballast Point: Those that want a nice and peaceful drinking experience with some great views, food and beer, would love it here! They’ve set the perfect scene, with great beer to match it! 
  • Modern Times Beer: Want a hint of pop art mixed with great beer? This is the place to be! They have IPAs, New England Beers, Hazies, fruity beers and pretty much anything else you can imagine! No matter how unique your palette is, you’ll find a great beer here! 
  • Mission Brewery: Those that want their beer with a blast from the past would love it here! The brewery is in a historical building, and the beers are amazing, whether you want a couple IPA or an ale! 
  • Stone Brewing: Want a beer with a gargoyle watching over you? (I know, very specific) but this is the place to be! They’ve got great IPAs that are light and fruity, and the whole experience at their brewery just can’t be explained. It’s one everyone needs to have on their own! 

St. Louis, Missouri

In April 2019, USA Today readers named St. Louis as “America’s Best Beer Scene”, paired with the fact that it’s home to Anheuser-Busch, it’s definitely been high on my list! 

There are 35 breweries in St. Louis, each offering their own unique brews. But, the ones that are recommended to me the most are:

  • 4 Hands Brewing Company: This brewery brings together a classic drinking experience with great beers! While they have several beer options, the ones that most people love are the sweet ones, especially the Mint Chocolate Stout and the Toffee Cookie Crunch so be sure to check those out on your visit! 
  • Melvin Brewing: Drinking a beer in Melvin Brewing is a whole experience. Their beers come straight from the “mothership”, which is their theme. Their IPAs are so smooth that they’ll shock you! 
  • Saint Louis Brewery (Schlafly): This one is a great example of mixing the old and the new, both in terms of brewing and the building! Although they have lots of great beer options, The Pumpkin Ale seems to be a universal favorite!  
  • Side Project Brewing: What started as something the owners did on the side, blew up to crazy proportions because of how good they were at it! They specialize in Spirit and barrel-aged beers and wild ales! 

Tampa, Florida

With all the Floridian beach land, it’s no surprise that beer is big in the city. There are over a hundred breweries throughout! Places like the Crooked Can are great to try your land on some great craft beer too and while there’s beer flowing everywhere in Florida, these are my top recommendations for beer in Tampa:

  • Cigar City Brewing: This brewery makes some of the best IPAs and Ales in the city and the pub has one of the most extensive menus ever. So there’s something here for everyone! 
  • Coppertail Brewing Co: The beers at Coppertail Brewery are mystical themed, amazingly smooth beers! There are 20 beers on tap all the time, although they rotate the beers throughout the year.
  • Woven Water Brewing Company: What makes this brewery great is that they specialize in different kinds of brews, so even if you like something super specific, there’s going to be something there for you! 
  • Magnanimous Brewing: There are a few breweries in the world that can do everything right, Stouts, IPA’s, Sours-Porters and Lagers, they’re all just right. They’ve always got great combos on the tap that just work so well you’d want to drink them all! 
  • 7venth Sun Brewery: This too, is a brewery that’s got something for everyone, there are always 26 beers on tap that are all extremely well made! It might take you a second to figure out which beer is which, but once you do, you’ll have a grand ol’ time! 

Want More Help Planning Your Beercation? Check Out These Guides!

best beer cities

This post will serve as the perfect guide to the best beer cities in the US. However, if you want to know more about planning your next beercation, beer or just want to get some tips on traveling through the US, check out my other posts on the Big World, Small Girl blog!

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