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Tour the World's Best Beer Cities

The Beer Connoisseur's Top 24 Beer Cities

We asked our international correspondents to nominate and vote on the world’s best beer cities. The majority of them live outside the U.S., but not surprisingly American cities dominated the list. Read on and discover the world's best beer cities according to The Beer Connoisseur!


24. ROME, ITALY

Italy’s craft beer renaissance started 20 years ago in the country’s north, i.e. Piemonte, Lombardia and Veneto. Rome is, however, where the beer passion exploded, boosted by Birra Del Borgo’s hoppy ales and Baladin’s incredible concoctions. Currently, the Italian capital boasts an ever increasing number of beer lovers, wanting more than the industrial pilsner brands, leading to literally hundreds of good pubs and plenty beer shops. Just two great recommendations: the tiny, often very crowded, beer-only “Ma che siete venuti a fa’ (literally What the Hell Are You Doing Here?) and Open Baladin, (pictured above) which is run by Baladin and Del Borgo breweries, offering around 40 taps of Italian craft beers and a selection of excellent food. But keep wandering, and you will find (hidden) beer gems everywhere you go.

– Carl Kins​

Photo Credit: Flickr/Roberto Ventre


23. MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA

The mind does not normally spring to Australia when thinking of the world's best beer cities, but the Ozzies actually imbibe the 4th-most alcohol per capita in the world! Clearly they know their suds. Though the entirety of the continent is chock full of terrific beer spots (other than the unforgiving bush), Melbourne takes the cake for this list. Stolberg Beer Café (pictured above) is home to a rotating list of local beer taps and offers multiple function rooms for events or festive occasions. Melbourne is also home to Stefano de Pieri, who is well-known in the area for Stefano’s Restaurant and Mildura Brewery, which pairs hearty house-brewed Pale Ales, Lagers and Pilsners with delightful Italian cuisine. In terms of craft offerings, Sailors Grave Brewing in Victoria provides fascinating brews such as a saison brewed with grapefruit and marigold flowers or a whisky sour Berliner Weisse brewed with meyer lemon, maraschino cherries, rye-soaked oak staves and finished off with orange bitters. Two Birds Brewing also offers fascinating styles like Sesame Snap-Chat, a brown ale brewed sesame seeds!

– Chris Guest


 

22. CHICAGO, ILLINOIS

It took a while for the Windy City to outgrow its first dominating brewsters, but it has now emerged as one of the most exciting brewing scenes in the USA. From rocking specialty bars like Local Option and The Map Room to talented microbreweries like Revolution and Half Acre (pictured above), this bustling megacity has it all. And most of it is easily accessible through the inner-city train system; as if you were being constantly tempted to indulge a bit more than you usually do. As if all of this weren't enough, you also know you are a few moments away from Indiana's most renowned brewery, 3 Floyds, and their hordes of devilishly delicious Double IPAs. You'll probably need to breathe it all in on the shores of Lake Michigan, honestly...

– Martin Thibault


21. EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND

Edinburgh breathes beer as surely as bonny gales blow across Scotland. The founding of Holyrood Abbey in 1125 spawned an entire center of brewing, building a foundation for the Edinburgh Society of Brewers by 1598. Affectionately nicknamed "Auld Reekie”, Edinburgh arose from shadows and fog as the legendary home to Heriot Watt’s International Centre of Brewing and Distilling, spewing out world-class brewers like dragons throwing fire. Edinburgh hosts CAMRA’s Champion Beer of Scotland Competition, the Scottish Real Ale Festival and Independents’ Beer Festival Celt Experience, with a focus on innovative styles. For an authentic Scottish pub experience, the Victorian-styled Guildford Arms and classic Bow Bar will surely tilt your kilt … or go high-def with a crawl to BrewDog, The Hanging Bat, and The Holyrood 9A.

– Carolyn Smagalski​


20. MONTREAL, CANADA

Within this mostly French Canadian metropolis thrive more than 20 breweries, the majority of which are within walking distance of each other – that’s when winter winds aren’t howling, of course. Icons like Dieu du Ciel! serve as a beacon around which more discreet brewers of equal quality such as L’Amère à BoireBeneluxLe Cheval Blanc and Hopfenstark share their wares at their respectively warming locations. Specialty beer bars like Vices et VersaBrouhahaIsle de Garde and Le Saint-Bock are also proud of their roots and allow the wandering visitor to sample beers from dozens of faraway breweries nestled in hard-to-reach corners of Quebec. Nowhere in Canada can one taste so much variety in a unique cultural setting -- without driving hundreds of kilometers from one corner of a province to another.

– Martin Thibault

Photo Credit: Flickr/Yann Ostiguy


19. TALLINN, ESTONIA

Shockingly, Estonians drink the 6th-most alcohol per capita – ahead of such beer-happy climes as the United Kingdom, Belgium and the United States. Perhaps that is due to the high-quality brews coming out of its capital, Tallinn. Põhjala Brewery is probably the biggest name in Tallinn, as the Estonian craft brewer has made a name for itself by creating terrific beers in popular styles that are widely regarded the world over. Many smaller breweries, brewpubs and bars are patronized by the thirsty denizens of Tallinn, such as Põrgu BrasserieClayhills GastropubBeer Garden and Koht. Never to miss out on a craft beer-thirsty European market, BrewDog Tallinn is also a popular spot for locals and tourists alike – offering beers from around the world side-by-side with BrewDog favorites and brews from nearby Estonian breweries.

– Chris Guest

Photo Credit: Põhjala Brewery


18. SEATTLE, WASHINGTON

A day spent walking around the city‘s renowned market, peeking into The Pike Brewing Company’s beer history museum, leaning into a pint of one of the city's many friendly brewpubs, is much more refreshing than any coastal rain shower. Dazzling craft beer establishments such as Brouwer’s Café and Fremont Brewing deserve to grace many of the world's best lists while a plethora of other beer bars manage to stand out by showcasing under-the-radar breweries from across the state. It’s a state which, for hard-to-fathom reasons, houses over 200 breweries completely unknown to the rest of the country. From the Beveridge Place Pub's annual Barley Wine fest to Über Tavern's amazingly deep year-round selection, there is enough in the Emerald City to keep your tastebuds going till the next ray of sunshine. Don't be disappointed if you don't find time to go up the Space Needle...

– Martin Thibault


17. BRUGES, BELGIUM

With a Medieval city center, Bruges, the Venice of the North, attracts millions of tourists. For most, gastronomy is high on the agenda, and in Belgium this includes beer. That is why the first Belgian specialized “artisanal beer café” saw the light here over a quarter century ago – the world-famous Brugs Beertje. Meanwhile there are literally hundreds of specialized beer bars, from easy going pubs to beer restaurants such as De Garre, Erasmus, Cambrinus, etc. There is only one brewery though, Halve Maan, well known for its Brugse Zot and Straffe Hendrik range, but in walking around town old brewery relics can be discovered as well. An interesting and interactive beer museum, covering all aspects of brewing and beer, opened its doors recently in the old post office. Finally, the second largest Belgian beer festival is held here yearly in February, with 80 plus Belgian breweries attending. More info can be found in the booklet “Around Bruges in 80 Beers.”                               

– Carl Kins​

Photo Credit: Flickr/Neil Turner


16. DUBLIN, IRELAND

Face it, when you are lost in a new city with no destination in mind you gravitate to “the Irish Pub.” Dublin is the greatest city in the world to enjoy a beer precisely because you would never run out of Irish pubs in a lifetime. There are quiet watering holes, neighborhood sports houses, multi-level craft beer meccas, quiet writer pubs, and live music venues to choose from, plus variations on all of these. Some of Dublin's finest are part of the Galway Brewery family, such as Alfie Byrne's, The Brew DockThe Beer Market, The Black Sheep and Against the Grain. Dublin is an excellent walking city due to the density of statuary, bridges and architecture that invoke Ireland’s political and literary history in addition to memorable gardens and markets. Stopping for a pint is always easy and what better place to enjoy a stout, that delicious black elixir, than its birthplace? More than 800 years old, the Brazen Head is the oldest in Ireland and still offers Dubliners and tourists alike pints, food, poetry and live music within walking distance of Guinness Brewery at St. James Gate. If you want to be totally swept away by a beverage and a city, enjoy a pint or three in Dublin. Sláinte!

– Phil Farrell  

Photo Credit: Tourism Ireland


15. NEW YORK CITY

Beer Week in New York City has all the flash and dance of Times Square, bottled into the likes of Jimmy Carbone, Garrett OliverJeremy Cowan, Susan Greene and a host of heavy-hitters that make this beer scene one of the hottest on earth. From the Brooklyn Brewery with its Local 1 and secretive Black Ops to the Coney Island series and He’Brew Jewbelation of Shmaltz Brewing, New York’s neighborhoods scream with in-your-face diversity. Want Belgians? MarktSpuyten Duyvil and Vol de Nuit serve a masterful list, blended with cuisine à la Bière and flavorful snacks. Hop lovers will flock to Other Half, Sixpoint, SingleCut, Finback and Threes -- where limited-release four-packs of "whale" IPAs and DDH DIPAs are on offer seemingly every day. For the meat eaters, go with The Cannibal in Midtown East. But don’t miss the Blind Tiger Ale HouseGinger Man and d.b.a. where beer is bigger than the Big Apple itself.                                                                                           

– Carolyn Smagalski


14. TOKYO, JAPAN

Hiding somewhere around zooming trains, blinding neon and millions of minions walking to and fro are dozens of minuscule bars serving ji-biru. That is, Japanese artisanal beer. Service here is as courteous as it gets in the brewing universe and the import scene tends to bring in some of the West Coast superstars quite often. Some bars like Popeye’s seem to be stuck in time, imitating brown bars from old Europe, while newcomers such as Goodbeer Faucets and T.Y  Harbor take the thirsty to futuristic realms with its shiny decor and tapline setup. Reservations are recommended at most of them because of limited seating – that is the reality of such a dense megalopolis – but a little planning can take you from one memorable closet-size standing room-only bar to a dizzyingly high skyscraper tasting room. Breweries are on the rise as well in the land of the rising sun, with Hitachino Brewing Lab, Spring Valley Brewery, Y.Y.G Brewery and larger-scale breweries such as Suntory and Asahi making ther home in Japan's thrumming capital.

– Martin Thibault


13. SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA

One doesn’t usually connect The Haight district with beer, but the ground-shaking cultural changes emanating from San Francisco in the 1960s eventually found their way into the foundation of craft brewing.  Two years before the Summer of Love, Fritz Maytag took over the Anchor Brewing Company on Potrero Hill and brought some counter-cultural ideas to brewing. “Among those good ideas,” said Maytag, “was to be open-minded, to value creativity and to try new things and not be afraid.” Is there a better way to sum up the craft beer movement? In addition to a chance to visit ground zero at Anchor, a visitor can also take in the nearby Toronado pub, where brewers meet as well as amazing local favorites such as CellarmakerSpeakeasy Ales & LagersThirsty BearFort PointBarebottleBlack Hammer and Triple Voodoo. Although another ground-breaking brewery, New Albion, crashed early, one of Anchor’s offshoots was Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in not-too-distant Chico, where Ken Grossman employed some of Maytag’s inspiration. While in The City, head over to the 21st Amendment brewpub or grab some Almanac beers to sample the local gypsy brewing scene or stop in at the Monk’s Kettle, where the kitchen and menu are directed by Adam Dulye, the Brewers Association’s pairings guru. 

– Jonathan Ingram

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Comments

Martin Thibault's picture
John, Bamberg is situated in Franken (Franconia, in English), a region in northern Bavaria. You can learn about this region's 300 or so breweries here: http://franconiabeerguide.com/index.php
thomas.barbera's picture
I did 12 of these 20 cities I should say than I mostly agree with your selection except maybe Dublin. Intesresting city but I think than some other ones deserve to be into this post before. I am thinking about Barcelona, Paris or Brussels which are for me better to visit than Dublin.
JOSEPH T BURKE's picture
I have gone to 16 of the 20 and most of them just because of the beer. First I would move Bruges to a much higher position as it is all about beer there. Second, I love Dublin however as the other fellow said, not much of a selection of beers there, but the pubs are great if you drink stout. Put Brussels on the list in it's place, or maybe Ghent.
cantrollmyrs's picture
Why would you not list Grand Rapids Michigan? They have Bells, Founders, New Holland, Perrin just to to name a few. They have more breweries than even the likes of Chicago and a per capita brewery seen that is probably the highest in the country.

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Comments

Martin Thibault's picture
John, Bamberg is situated in Franken (Franconia, in English), a region in northern Bavaria. You can learn about this region's 300 or so breweries here: http://franconiabeerguide.com/index.php
thomas.barbera's picture
I did 12 of these 20 cities I should say than I mostly agree with your selection except maybe Dublin. Intesresting city but I think than some other ones deserve to be into this post before. I am thinking about Barcelona, Paris or Brussels which are for me better to visit than Dublin.
JOSEPH T BURKE's picture
I have gone to 16 of the 20 and most of them just because of the beer. First I would move Bruges to a much higher position as it is all about beer there. Second, I love Dublin however as the other fellow said, not much of a selection of beers there, but the pubs are great if you drink stout. Put Brussels on the list in it's place, or maybe Ghent.
cantrollmyrs's picture
Why would you not list Grand Rapids Michigan? They have Bells, Founders, New Holland, Perrin just to to name a few. They have more breweries than even the likes of Chicago and a per capita brewery seen that is probably the highest in the country.

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