Top 10 Craft Beer Cities

Sessions Beer

Craft brewers now account for 11% of produced beer in the U.S., and craft beer sales have risen some 22% in the past year. So what are the best markets for the burgeoning craft beer community in the country?

Portland, Oregon houses more than seventy breweries including craft brew pioneer Widmer Brothers, Breakside with its award winning IPA, Ecliptic, Commons, Gigantic, and barrel-aging breweries like Cascade. Conviction Pale Ale is one of the brewery’s current signature tastes. BridgePort Brewing is another must-taste, so much a part of Portland’s brew culture that it even offers a private brewery tour. At Hopworks, customers on stationary bikes generate eco-friendly power, and Deschutes Brewery has migrated here from Bend. In short, Portland could replace its “City of Roses” moniker for “City of Beer.”

Denver, Colorado is no slouch either when it comes to beer. With breweries like Great Divide, Black Sky, Wynkoop, and Cannonball Creek, there are plenty of choices in the Rockies. With tasty brews like Great Divide’s Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout, it’s no wonder that Denver also plays host to one of the largest beer festivals in the country, the Great American Beer Festival, running in the Mile High city since 1984.

San Diego, California is a great spot to quaff a craft draft before hitting the beach. With more than a hundred breweries stretching across San Diego County, choices are wide – from the Belgians of Lost Abbey to Green Flash’s IPAs. Societe Brewery is on the cutting edge of sours. From Ballast Point to Barrel Republic, San Diego will never return to the dark days of Prohibition when to quaff a cold brew meant a drive across the bored to Tijuana.

Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota serves enough beer for two cities – possibly because the twin cities are a duo. Try the imperial stout at Fulton Beer, or check out the driving force behind a positive change in the taproom laws, Surly Brewing. Minnesota is reclaiming its origins as a beer town – long before its stellar craft brews took center stage, breweries such as Hamms were made here in the 19th century.

Boston, Massachusetts is home to the small-craft-no-longer Sam Adams, but there are still plenty of small, creative craft breweries lining the Charles River these days. Trillium, famous for its pale ale, is joined by Harpoon, Boston Beer Company, Endurance Brewing, and just across that river, Pretty Things in Somerville. Boston is upholding a tradition even longer standing that of Minneapolis/St. Paul – Beantown’s first brewery was established in 1796.

The windy city of Chicago, Illinois offers a great way to duck out of its often brisk weather: check out the craft beers. From North Center’s Half Acre Beer Company to Revolution, Pipeworks, Off Color, and the now classic Goose Island, there are an astounding number of choices for beer lovers. When the chill winds calm, and a day at Wrigley Field is in order, Half Acre’s Daisy Cutter is the summertime craft beer Chicagoans love.

San Francisco, California is packed with microbreweries these days. Enjoy Black Diamond, Speakeasy, locavore fruity brews from Almanac, or taste a beer redolent of redwood from Moonlight Brewing. The first micro-brewery in the state, New Albion, was crafted just across the Golden Gate Bridge in Sonoma. The San Francisco International Beer Fest and an annual Beer Week draw even more attention to the excellence in this city’s craft beer market.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin has a centuries old beer-loving and manufacturing tradition rooted in the city’s German heritage. Today, craft brewing has taken hold with brewers like Lakefront and Sprecher leading the charge. Toast the town’s baseball franchise, the appropriately named the Brewers, with Lakefront’s Black Friday, a bourbon-barrel-aged imperial stout.

New York City, New York might be the city that never sleeps, but it’s also the city of cutting edge craft beer these days, with innovative beer makers like Evil Twin, IPA purveyor Other Half, and Six Point among the stand-outs. Uptown, don’t forget the Bronx Brewery.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania has a neighborhood named Brewerytown, where back in the 1900s hundreds of breweries held forth. Today, craft brews are created across the city, including Yards, Philadelphia Brewing Co., Dock Street, Tired Hands, and Victory. The city hosts an annual ten-day Philly Beer Week, too. Want some history with your brew? An original beer recipe created by none other than Ben Franklin is crafted at Yards, Poor Richard’s Tavern Spruce.

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1 Comment

  1. Goose Island Boy

    June 6, 2015 at 9:58 pm

    Nice article, though partial to Midwestern craft beers, Portland OR is really America’s craft beer mecca hands down.

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