Finding a great beer is a pretty easy task these days. The advent of craft beer culture has gone mainstream — with IPAs and Imperial Stouts dominating beer bars from Singapore to Seattle. That’s not to say there aren’t still some hardcore classic beer stops around the world where Pilsners, Lambic, and even Lagers dominate the scene. Point is, we live in a boom era for beer, no matter what your favs are.
The title of this one is self-explanatory. So let’s skip all the posturing and pontificating and just dive right into the best beer cities in the world. Cool? Good, let’s go!
30. WARSAW, POLAND
Poland is a pretty fantastic corner of the world (outside its current political state, which is very troubling). Still, cities like Krakow, Gdansk, and especially Warsaw are blowing up with awesome micro-breweries and plenty of beer bars to support them. Classic Baltic and Smoked beers are making a huge comeback as local, small-time brewers reach back in their confluence of Slavic, Balt, and Germanic genealogies to brew some suds. Case in point, don’t sleep the Baltic Porters brewed with smoked plums. They’re delightful, unique, and straight up fun to drink.
Bars like Jabeerwocky, Artezan, and PiwPaw are perfect places to start your beer journey in Poland. After that, Warsaw is a city rife with bars just waiting to be explored.
29. VILNIUS, LITHUANIA
Lithuania is another great spot that serves as a bit of a crossroads between Central and Eastern Europe with a great tradition for beer from the old-school farmhouses to the hip craft beer bars. You get can get the best of both worlds in Lithuania.
Find a woman named Aldona Udriene. She’s a brewer that has mastered the farmhouse style that makes Lithuania one of the unique beer stops in the world. Drink as many Kaimiskas as you can, too — you literally cannot get it anywhere else.
28. ST. LOUIS (MO), USA
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St. Louis has one of the longest and strongest beer traditions in the whole of the United States. From when Adolphus Busch and Eberhard Anheuser partnered up in the 1850s, beer has been the backbone of the city.
Today, Budweiser still reigns supreme while local microbrewers open up shop all over the city. Beer bars like Side Project Cellar and 21st Street are meccas for the local brewers’ scene with a vast array of great local beers being celebrated … and enjoyed.
27. TEL AVIV, ISRAEL
As with Poland, it’s probably best to put politics aside here. Tel Aviv has one of the coolest microbeer scenes in the world. It all started with a few brewers making suds in their garages and now it’s a countrywide phenomenon. The beer comes from brewers who love beer so much they can’t help but brew at home 24/7. That’s a good sign.
Craft beer bars and even liquor stores will carry beers brewed by their neighbors, literally in their backyards and garages. These beers are often labeled with hand-typed or even handwritten labels and it’s often f*cking delicious. HaMinzar, Beer Garden, and The Dancing Camel are good places to start in an upstart scene well worth digging into.
26. BANGKOK, THAILAND
Bangkok has some pretty strict laws when it comes to private enterprise and, thus, microbrewing outfits are few and far between. However, that hasn’t stopped Bangkok’s denizens from exalting craft beer from all over the world and, over the last decade, craft beer bars have started to dominate.
Spots like CRAFT, MASH, Hair of the Dog, Goldencoins, Where Did WE Go, and a handful of other newbies are coming to define what a great beer bar in the SE Asia looks like by building brilliant oases for beer lovers.
25. CHICAGO (IL), USA
Chicago — and the Midwest in general — is a beer lover’s paradise. The open fields with amber waves of grain, seemingly endless supplies of fresh lake water, and a very Germanic/Slavic population base equates to great beer culture.
Big-hitting local craft brewers like Revolution dominate the scene and with good reason. The beer is pretty on point. Still, Chicago is one of the greatest food cities in the world. So craft beer bars like Fountainhead, Bangers & Lace, Howell’s, Links, and Small Bar barely scratch the surface of the wonderful beers stops in the city.
24. AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS
Amsterdam has cannabis cafes, legal prostitution, one of the best party scenes in the world, beautiful parks, superb public transportation, amazing museums, and vending machines on the streets that sell piping hot croquettes. Is there anything the ‘Dam can’t do?
Nope. Because their beer scene is dope too.
Start off at De Foodhallen’s main bar for a smattering of the local micro-scene. From there hit the city center and spots like Beer Temple, Proeflokaal Arendsnest, Café Gollem, and BAR JOOST to get a feel for the scene. Talk to the bartenders and locals and they’ll be more than happy to guide you through their deep menus.
23. REGINA, CANADA
Regina is like Canada’s Midwest. The endless plains of agriculture make it the perfect spot to brew great beer, and they do just that.
The city has exploded recently with an amazing local craft brew scene. Breweries like Rebellion and Buschwakker dominate along with a long list of local brewpubs and craft beer bars. It’s a burgeoning scene that’s making great beer smack-dab in the middle of Canada. Go. Drink. Be Merry.
22. TOKYO, JAPAN
There’s a lot to see, do, and eat in Tokyo. The city is one of the biggest in the world and, at times, a bit overwhelming. If you’re feeling lost, drop into a local beer bar and unwind.
Tokyo’s beer scene is a fundamental part of the city. You can go old school amongst the izakayas and drink fizzy lagers until you pass out. Or, you can hit up a long list of great craft bars with the best beers from all over the world. Spots like Craft Beer Market Jimbōchō and Ant ‘n Bee are great examples of the best Tokyo’s beer culture has to offer and represent about 1/1000th of the options for beer lovers in the city.
21. MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA
Australians love to knock a few cold ones back. Add in British pub culture and migrant ingenuity and, yeah, the beer scene in Oz is goddamn spectacular.
Melbourne, in particular, has the edge in Australia. The city is the de facto food capital of the country and therefore the beer scene is on point. Terminus Hotel Fitzroy North, The Alehouse Project, Slowbeer, and Penny Blue are great places to start your beer journey. Strike up a convo, make new friends, and suss out where the rest of the good beer in the city hides.
20. BOULDER (CO), USA
There’s a lot of great beer in Colorado. But, the crown has to go to Boulder for the best concentration of all-around great beer in one spot. With the Rocky Mountains to the west and the great plains to the east, it’s easy to fall in love with Boulder and the great beer scene makes it even easier.
Breweries like Avery, Asher, and especially Upslope help Boulder stand out from the crowd. Great bars like The West End Tavern, Mountain Sun, and BRU handbuilt ales & eats are cornerstones of the scene and great stops on your own beer tour. Just be careful with altitude. It’ll make those hangovers freaking kill.
19. SAN DIEGO (CA), USA
California is another place that’s hard to boil down to only one city for great beer. Do San Francisco, L.A., and hundred other spots across the state have great beer scenes? Yes, of course. But, it’s San Diego that really rises above with the embracing of Mexican and American beer styles and all the fish tacos you can possibly eat.
Juggernauts of the craft scene Stone Brewing (Escondido), AleSmith, Mission, and Ballast Point all call San Diego home. That’s only four of the 125+ craft breweries in the San Diego area. It’s a crazy amount of options — and that’s before you get to the beer bars. Hit the California 1 and head south — because San Diego is a beer lover’s “must stop” for all things West Coast IPA, craft Mexican Lagers, mind-bending Imperial Stouts, and everything in between.
18. PORTLAND (ME), USA
The other Portland knows how to brew great beer. New England brews and especially their IPAs are all the rage at the moment. Maine has a wonderful beer scene in general and Portland is the heart of it all.
Allagash tends to dominate the conversation about brewing in Portland and with good cause. Their beers are f*cking fantastic. But don’t sleep on Bissell Brothers, Bunker, Oxbow, Lone Pine, and Fore River and then the dozen or so other great breweries around town. Then make sure to hit Liquid Riot Bottling Company for great beer, food, and convo with the local beer lovers.
17. VICTORIA, CANADA
Victoria has a unique presence in Canada with a very British pub culture underpinning a hip and crafty beer scene. It’s old world charm meets new world invention. Plus, it’s Vancouver Island — one of the most magical places on the planet.
Hoyne, Phillips, and Driftwood breweries are gonna need to be your first stops. Get drunk there on great local brews and chat with the brewers and other beer geeks about the best places to plot a beer-centric course around the city. You’re definitely going to want to hit The Churchill and Little Jumbo too (note that the latter has a rad food menu).
16. PORTLAND (OR), USA
The real Portland is a seriously hardcore beer destination. You can find a great local microbrew in almost every corner of the Rose City. The hipper-than-thou beer scene in Portland is always producing stellar beers in bars that feel like they’re straight out of Barfly.
Where to start with Portland? This is a city where you can legitimately use the word “plethora” to describe the beer options. There are just so many spots. Saraveza, Horse Brass Pub, APEX, Stammtisch, Imperial Bottle Shop & Taproom, The Upper Lip, and Deschutes barely scratch the surface here for a great beer. Our advice, just walk around the hip neighborhoods like The Pearl or Alberta, you’ll find a dope spot simply by keeping your eyes open.
15. CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA
Wine is likely the first thing that comes to mind when most of us think ‘South Africa.’ And, fair enough. South Africa produces some amazing wine. It also produces some fantastic local brews and much of that wonderfulness is centered around Cape Town.
Start at the Devils Peak Salt River Taproom, then hit Boston Breweries, Drifter, and Riot Beer. Talk to local beer aficionados, make new friends, and get recommendations for your continuing beer adventure.
14. SEATTLE (WA), USA
Oh, Seattle. Another old-school microbeer mecca in the Great Pacific Northwest is a must stop on any beer pilgrim’s trail. The city has been making craft brews since before some Madison Avenue marketing exec came up with the term “craft.” So, yeah, the beer is good, the bars are rad, and the scene is always expanding in new and wondrous ways.
Elysian and Pike are the two old-school (and f*cking fantastic spots) to hit upon arrival. From there, Fremont is a must stop along with Georgetown and Holy Brewing. If you can still walk after that, Optimism, Perihelion, and Urban Family are all great breweries to hit next.
And, then, there’s a long list of great dives and gastropubs all over the city that’ll have amazing beer lists as well. The beer world in Seattle is your very own oyster (though there are often plenty of actual oysters on the menu to pair with all that great beer).
13. ROME, ITALY
Rome, surprisingly, is one of the great beer cities in Europe and the world. You can only drink so much wine before a nice cold beer is in order, right? The Eternal City has a killer beer scene with bars curating some of the best beer lists in, yes, the world.
You need to memorize one bar name: Ma Che Siete Venuti a Fa’. We know, it’s long. But, this is, by far, one of the best-curated bar lists in Europe. The owners spend months sourcing barrels of beer to put on tap and, wow, is it a great list. The scene is hip, chill, and spills out into the Roman streets nightly. From there hit up Open Baladin, Bir & Fud, and Hopside.
And remember: Beer will carry you into the evening, but late night is Negroni time.
12. ASHEVILLE (NC), USA
Asheville has an amazing amount of great beer concentrated in a small(ish) city. Huge craft breweries call the place home and there are enough brewpubs, breweries, and beer bars to keep you busy for months without every hitting repeat.
New Belgium, Burial, Green Man, and Wicked Weed are good spots to post up in. Strike up convos and figure the best places to hit next. But be sure you don’t miss Appalachian Vintner, Pack’s Tavern, or Thirsty Monk.
11. TORONTO, CANADA
Toronto and greater Ontario is a great place to drink beer. The local scene is dominated by craft brewers who focus on local ingredients and keeping their beer near to home — so there’s a fair amount of great beer here that doesn’t travel.
Burdock Brewery is a must stop for their eclectic brews and delicious food. Great Lakes Brewery is another can’t miss as their (seriously excellent) beers are not exported outside the area. Bellwoods, Bar Hop, and the super cozy neighborhood joint The Gaslight are more “must stops.” Then head downtown to Town Crier and Steam Whistle Brewing’s converted roundhouse. You will not be disappointed.
10. GRAND RAPIDS (MI), USA
No list of great beer cities would be complete without Grand Rapids. Michigan, overall, is a great place for beer and the center of it all is Grand Rapids with a killer brewery scene and the chillest and illest beer bars backing it up.
The Mitten Brewing Company should be everyone’s first stop for some great beer and pizza. Elk, Harmony, Brewing Vivant, Grand Rapids Brewing, and Fountain Hill all deserve prominent spots on any itinerary. Then there’s just so much more. Make friends at the breweries, plot courses, and make sure to stay hydrated in this beer paradise.
9. COPENHAGEN, DENMARK
Copenhagen is one of those spots where everything seems to work perfectly and the food and drink scene follows along towards that perfection. The eats alone are worth the trip to Denmark and with that comes an amazing drinking scene.
Mikkeller dominates a lot of the convo about Copenhagen as it’s one of the biggest “craft” breweries in the world. So you best go straight to the source when you’re there. After that hit up To Øl for some of the most innovative beers being brewed anywhere. War Pigs, BRUS, and Dia’legd are great stops with amazing beer and, often, food. After all that, you may need a break, so hit up NOMA 2.0 for the best food being served on the planet right now.
8. TALLINN, ESTONIA
Estonia is a small country with a big love of beer. Tallinn has a great, burgeoning beer scene that’s young, hip, and delicious. The approach is awesome — Tallinn is the perfect blending of being far away and still accessible, with a fresh take on great beer.
Põhjala should be everyone’s first stop. Their beer is just outstanding. Põhjala’s Speakeasy is a beer mecca with best the brewery has to offer with a bustling crowd of beer lovers. Strike up a convo, make new beer friends, and explore the scene together. Don’t miss Koht, Põrgu, and Hell Hunt for a taste of the local scene.
7. DUBLIN, IRELAND
Dublin is an easy sell. It’s got great history and killer pub scene. Plus Jameson and Guinness are made there. Yeah, it rains a lot. But you can just duck into a cozy pub and wait for the clouds to clear with a nice pint of the black stuff (Guinness).
Okay, you can’t go to Dublin and not drink at the Guinness Storehouse. That’d be crazy. After you get that out of the way, there are literally thousands of pubs to choose from. The bulk will have local brews on tap from all over Dublin, Ireland, the UK, the USA, and most of Europe. So your options are kinda endless. Open Gate, Rascals, Wicklow Wolf, and Porterhouse Temple Bar are all essentials.
6. LONDON, UK
London has a little bit of everything. There’s a great old-school pub scene, a hipper-than-thou craft beer scene, and just about every kind of bar in between. You can get a great, local craft beer just about anywhere — from the local chippy to hundreds-of-years-old pubs to a corner shop (called an Off License). London has everything when it comes to great beer.
5. BERLIN, GERMANY
Germany is going to dominate the higher rankings of this list because, well, they make amazing beer there and they’ve been killing it for millennia.
Straight up: Berlin is a beer city. So much so that an entire style of beer is named after the place: The beautifully sour Berliner Weisse. Besides that, Berlin also has a great melding of old-school German and Bohemian beer cultures mixed with the new, craft scene (California’s Stone Brewing based their entire European operation in Berlin).
Brlo’s refitted container beer garden is a must stop. The beer is brewed on site and the crowds are always hip, young, and beer-loving. From there beer gardens like Schluesenkrug and Zollpackhof are surefire hits, especially if the sun’s out. Foerster Fine Beers is probably the best curated Franconian beer bars in Germany. Then, craft bars like Vagabund, Eschenbräu, Hops & Barley, Brauerei Flessa, and Belgian beer bar Herman barely scratch the surface of the phenomenal scene in Berlin.
Add the literally thousands of other bars and you have one of the best scenes in the world.
4. BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
It’s hard not mete out three or four Belgian cities on this list. But, that somehow seems unfair to the rest of the world. So, let’s say this: Post up in Brussels as your home base for exploring the wonderful world of Belgian beer. The country really is tiny and you can easily take day trips to every corner of the place to visit breweries and blenders.
In Brussels, make sure to hit the delightfully kitsch Poechenellekelder then the classic cafe À la Mort Subite. After that wander the streets and find a cafe that suits your style. They’re all bustling and will surely have a great beer list.
3. MUNICH, GERMANY
It’s hard not to put Munich in the top spot. For one, Oktoberfest happens there. For another, the beer gardens are some of the best in the world, full stop. And if you need another reason, one of the best lagers ever brewed, Augustiner, hails from the city. Munich and beer are inseparable and you gotta hit the city to drink yourself into a stupor at least once in your life.
Obviously, Oktoberfest is prime time to hit up Munich. Nine tents, a huge state fair vibe, and literally millions of people all descend on the city to celebrate the amazing beer brewed locally. If a massive beer fest isn’t your jam, then hit up Munich in the summer and chill at any of the Augustiner beerhalls or beer gardens across throughout the metropolis. For a more modern take on the local craft scene, make sure to hit Tap-House and The Crow-Bar.
2. PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC
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Prague is all about the beer. The city has thousands of bars devoted to the altar of great beer. Bohemian Pilsner is one of the greatest and most quaffable styles of beer in the world. A pilgrimage to the beer halls of Prague is a must for every beer lover.
The beer is cheap. The food is comforting. And the atmosphere is always convivial.
1. BAMBERG, GERMANY
If you hang out with any brewer or beer writer these days the conversation will inevitably turn to Bamberg in Franconia (northern Bavaria). The Kellerwald in the Franconian forest is a place of legend and myth and where some of the best lagers are… lagered… under the mossy hills and served fresh under the shade of the chestnut and oak trees. As lagers make their mark in the craft beer scene, everyone worth their salt is looking to Bamberg and Franconia for inspiration.
Annafest in the Kellerwald is the local beer fest that you wish Oktoberfest was. It’s a sprawling festival grounds outside of Forchheim with beer gardens, fair rides, and food booths peppered throughout the woods. It’s a paradise of good beer being stored and poured and is, without a doubt, a pinnacle of beer experiences in the world.
Back in Bamberg, Brauerei Greifenklau, Schlenkerla (amazing smoked beer), Torschuster, Spezial-Keller, Brauerei Knoblach, and Brauerei Hölzlein should all be on your list. Dig in, eat some schnitzel, and make some new beer friends.