Whether you like your beer dark or hoppy, sour or fruity or simply something that tastes good after a long day, there’s no denying we’re living in a golden age of brews. From Pittsburgh to Tokyo and everywhere in between, brew masters have been busy the past few years, refining classics and creating new ones. In the process they’ve added to the identity of the cities they call home, creating must-visit destinations for beer lovers.
In some the vibe is 1920s speakeasy where part of the appeal is finding the hidden bar serving up local brews. Others give off a laid-back summer afternoon feel, where it’s just as likely to find a barbeque smoking and a beanbag toss competition going on outside the tasting room. No matter what you’re looking for, if you’re a beer lover these are the 10 cities you’re going to want to visit.
Munich is the German city that gets all the beer love and with good reason, but Bamberg also deserves some respect. There are more than 300 breweries within a few kilometers around Bamberg, including almost a dozen within the city limits. Between the rolling hills, rivers and 11th Century architecture it’s hard to find a more picturesque German city. Here you want to try smoked beer, created by drying malted barley over an open flavor, it’s the local favorite.
Hungary’s capital city takes it’s drinking to a whole new level. Think Munich Beer hall plus live music. The catch? It’s in an abandoned building. Known as Ruins bars, the hipster meets speakeasy bars began popping up in the city’s seventh district in 2001. Each Ruin bar has it’s own unique feel—disco tech, relaxed neighborhood pub, Mexican taqueria—but what they all have in common is a location in an abandoned building with a few beers on tap. They’ve become so popular there’s even a Ruins Pub Crawl.
Try: the original, Szimpla Kert
Best know for its steel mills, Pittsburgh has been reinventing itself in recent years. Not only did Travel + Leisure name the city one of “Best Places to Travel in 2016” but everyone has been talking about the city’s food and drink scene. Brewing in Pittsburgh dates back to the early 1800s but it’s only within the last 10 years that microbreweries have gained a foothold. Many of them are a nod to the traditional, such as Hofbräuhaus modeled after Munich’s famous Beer Hall.
The Mile High City is to beer lovers what Napa Valley is to wine lovers. Every September beer aficionados come to Denver to celebrate craft beer at the Great American Beer Festival. But even if you don’t make it to the city for the festival there’s plenty to love the rest of year. With more than 300 days of sunshine, Denver was made for rooftop, deck and patio drinking. The city’s many brewery taprooms, the equivalent to the local bar, embrace drinking al fresco with plenty of outdoor space. Barbecue and bean bag toss optional.
No list of cities for beer lovers to visit would be complete without Dublin. As the birthplace of Guinness, fans of creamy headed dark ale probably already have it on their list, but the Irish city’s beer culture runs much deeper than the St Patrick’s Day favorite. The must-visit Brazen Head Pub is the city’s first bar, dating back to 1198. Small neighborhood pubs throughout the city are all serving everything from Guinness to light and even crisp beer plus lots of good old Irish vibes.
Try: Brazen Head Pub
Tram phan tram. Loosely translated to mean 100 percent, it’s what people often toast to in Hanoi. Vietnam has become a Western backpacker’s paradise in the recent years and the country’s chaotic capital city, with its magnificent architecture and international influences, has a thriving beer culture. Try the Bia Hoi, a foamy local brew made daily or one of the other popular Southeast Asia beers, Tiger 333 or Bia Saigon.
Try: Green Pepper Beer Corner, Le Pub
If you’ve had an Aussie beer it was probably Foster’s Lager, widely available around the world, but when actually Down Under it’s Carlton Draught you’ll want to drink. Crisp, yet full-bodied, the traditional lager has been brewed in Melbourne since the 1950s. But don’t think that the Melbourne beer scene is stale. The city, a mix of San Francisco sophistication with Portland hippie, celebrates brews every May with Good Beer Week. During the rest of the year you’ll find many of Melbourne’s two-dozen breweries experimenting with local ingredients, such as with wild yeast.
Munich is the beer capital of the world. Every year locals and tourists flock to the beer halls for Oktoberfest where they consume more than 125 million gallons of beer. Here the popular beers are Helles, a pale malty larger and Dunkel, the traditional darker Munich brew.
Arguably the birthplace of the microbrewery trend – thank you, Shipyard and Allagash – there are about 17 microbreweries for every 4,000 residents in Portland, Maine. What that means is there is something for every type of craft beer fan. Go old school with a Belgian style brew from Allagash Brewing Company, organic with Peak Brewing Company or inventive with Urban Farm Fermentory, where brews use local ingredients and include ciders and kombucha tea.
Try: Rising Tide Brewing
Beer is so popular in Tokyo you can buy it in vending machines on the street. You’ll find plenty of familiar American brews in the bars but it’s the JiBiru you want to try. In the past few years a craft beer scene has started to emerge in Tokyo. As a result, it’s possible to find every type of bar imaginable from the old-school European-styled one to the skyscraper tasting room serving up their favorite version of JiBiru. Reservations recommended at the smaller bars.