The United States has over 7,000 breweries these days. That’s a lot. Craft beer has seeped into every corner of the country. Meaning there’s a lot of great beer out there…. and a fair bit of not-so-great beer, too. Choosing between great American beer cities becomes a precarious prospect.
Nevertheless, a handful of American cities have become full-blown beer destinations. These are places where beer is a cornerstone of the local identity — spots that are certainly worth traveling to if you love the sudsy stuff. To check out people’s favs, we rolled over to Ranker to peep their top ten after thousands of votes. There are a few oddities for sure and hardcore beer cities like Portland or Austin were inexplicably left off the list, but overall it’s not bad.
Check this list out and tell us your favorites in the comments.
10. Buffalo, New York
Buffalo narrowly beat out Boston for the tenth seed. While a lot of beer lover’s out there might not immediately jump to the upstate NY city for beer, there’s a lot to be loved about the scene. There’s a balance of old-school microbrews side-by-side with a burgeoning and hip craft scene thanks to all that Great Lake freshwater.
Great Local Brewery: Community Beer Works
Community Beer Works nourishes a sense of community in the Buffalo beer scene. The stellar neighborhood beer stop brews an eclectic mix of sips that lean classic, with a nice dose of experimentation. Don’t miss out on their brown ale, The Whale. It has a subtle roasted malt quality that hints at dark chocolate.
9. Detroit, Michigan
Drinking beer is Detroit is always fun. The city has a great scene, born out of a community that’s re-building by banding together. That spirit shines through in the local beer from every corner of the city.
Great Local Brewery: Batch Brewing Company
Batch Brewing Company is killing the game when it comes to great local suds. They tend to focus in on lower ABV German styles with plenty of classic craft styles and hit them out of the park. Their Centennial Pils is a great sipper with a nice balance of maltiness and sharp hops.
8. St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis is one of the great American cities when it comes to beer. A lot of the German-style lagers that have come to dominate the American market came from here and that sense of history has made this a prime beer destination.
Great Local Brewery: The Civil Life Brewing Company
The Civil Life Brewing Company is a great example of how the St. Louis beer scene is more than just Budweiser. The local beer joint serves brews with a healthy nod to German and English classics. Their Kölsch-Style Ale is a must-try with a light malt touch that’s very satisfying (and easy to drink).
7. Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minnesota has a fascinating young beer scene popping off right now. New ideas, classic executions, and a sense of community drive the beer world here. This is a unique corner of the country for beer that needs to be on everyone’s list.
Great Local Brewery: Bauhaus Brew Labs
Bauhaus Brew Labs is probably having the most fun making beer right now in Minnesota. The collection of artists, musicians, scientists, and beer lovers have gathered to create a loving nod to German-style beers with a Minnesota twist. Their Über Düber, an Imperial sparkling ale, is a funky and big beer (eight percent ABV) that’ll leave you with a smile on your face and thirst for more of Bauhaus’s brews.
6. Chicago, Illinois
Finding a great local beer in Chicago is easy. The city is notorious for being a great eating and drinking destination, so you never have to go too far to scratch that beer itch. The beer is always fresh, fun, and quaffable. Again, we have to give thanks to all that Great Lakes freshwater.
Great Local Brewery: Half Acre Beer Company
Picking one brewery in Chicago is hard. For our money, Half Acre Beer Company is a great choice. The atmosphere of this place is always a blast and the beer never disappoints. Their core beers shine but we recommend sampling whatever Wyld beer they have on tap when you show up. It’ll be a sour and complex delight.
5. Cleveland, Ohio
Another Great Lakes city clocks in at number five. Cleveland is a fun beer city all around. The scene is very local, well-crafted, and completely unpretentious (a rarity). You’ll have a good time drinking beer in Cleveland, especially with a promise of dope pierogies never too far away.
Great Local Brewery: Masthead Brewing Co.
Masthead Brewing Co. in downtown Cleveland is the beer bar you will get a little tipsy in (while making great friends). The New England IPAs are the star of the show here. Pull up a stool, talk to the bartender, and start your beer journey.
4. Burlington, Vermont
Burlington ended up being the only beer city repping New England in the top ten. We’re not complaining. The Vermont town has a deep and killer scene for beer lovers.
Great Local Brewery: Zero Gravity
Zero Gravity, an offshoot of the iconic American Flatbread Hearths (who happen to make the best pizza in the state), is an innovative brewery where your beer palate will be challenged and delighted. Start with their mild and very drinkable Green State Lager, then dive into their deep roster of great beers.
3. Grand Rapids, Michigan
Grand Rapids is often ranked as the best city for beer in America. There’s just so much great beer here that it’s hard to argue with the city getting pinged in the top three. While the city is not directly on one of the Great Lakes, it’s close enough that we’re chalking this up to that freshwater source yet again.
Great Local Brewery: Brewery Vivant
Brewery Vivant this is just a fantastic beer stop. The beer joint is located in an old funeral chapel with a crazy amount of character. The food is spot-on and calibrated to the beer. If you try one beer, make it the Farm Hand farmhouse ale. It’s funky, slightly sweet, and very easily sipped all day.
2. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
This is probably the choice that’ll ruffle the most feathers. Well, it shouldn’t per se. Philly has a great drinking scene, based around a wide array of unique neighborhoods that are a blast to drink through. So, hell yes, Philly has great beer!
Great Local Brewery: Dock Street Brewery
Case in point, Dock Street Brewery has been brewing up great beer since 1985. This place is an institution of the Philly beer scene and worth a pilgrimage when you’re in town. Grab a cask beer (whatever is currently on tap) and settle in for a great drinking session.
1. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
All right, it’s official. The people have made the Great Lakes the best of the best when it comes to American beer with six of the top ten cities all around the freshwater seas. Milwaukee is iconic when it comes to beer. You can’t go to the city and not have a great time drinking and making new friends.
Great Local Brewery: Lakefront Brewery
Lakefront Brewery is the perfect spot to start your beer journey through Milwaukee’s scene. The convivial atmosphere, fun brewery tour, and approachable staff are always a hoot. You’ll learn about the scene all while sipping on a tasty beer. Start with their Lager (it has a great balance of mild hops with bold malts) then move onto a funky seasonal.