Best Cities for Beer Lovers
Expert Advice

Image: Creative Commons

Whether you enjoy IPAs, stouts, or lagers, few things are better than grabbing a beer with your pals. So, where should you go to toast prost with your friends? Our friends at Lawn Love ranked over 180 of the largest U.S. cities to determine 2022’s Best Cities for Beer Lovers.

The list includes cities with plenty of breweries, beer gardens, and pubs per square mile, as well as award-winning brews, affordable pints, beer-centered festivals, and a big beer-loving community.  Drink up this Oktoberfest with the ranking and analysis below.  Check to see where your city ranks. Or, perhaps you want to pursue a career in brewing and fermentation science.

The upshot

Wish you were beer

Raise your glass to the Pacific Northwest and to our top beer city, Seattle. The Pacific Northwest dominates our ranking thanks to acclaimed ales, numerous drinking establishments, and a big beer-consuming community.

Emerald City brings home the gold overall and in Beer Quality. Portland (aka “Beervana”) bubbles to No. 3 overall — apt for the Microbrewery Capital of the World.

Both cities boast several winning brews recently recognized in the International Beer Awards, Great American Beer Festival, and World Beer Cup.

Local tips:

  • Seattle: Drink up in the spring during Seattle Beer Week, where you can participate in tastings and fun events like the Pine Box Beer Can Derby. Keep an eye out for 2022 Great American Beer Festival gold medalist Cloudburst Brewing.
  • Portland: Since 1988, beer lovers have gathered at the Oregon Brewers Festival to try the region’s best craft booze. Local, award-winning faves include those from Hopworks Urban Brewery and Old Town Brewing.

Rock Mountain High

Colorado’s capital, Denver (No. 2), foams to the top of our ranking with several globally renowned brews. Beer mavens can easily imbibe at one of Mile High City’s many breweries, pubs, bars, or festivals.

The “Napa Valley of Beer” continues in nearby Fort Collins (No. 30). Locally hailed as the Craft Beer Capital of Colorado, this college town impresses with plenty of craft breweries per square mile (No. 9) and accounts for 70% of the total craft beer produced in the Centennial State.

Local tips:

  • Fort Collins: Fort Collins brews big name-beer like Anheuser-Busch and New Belgium Brewing Co. Locals also love craft-brew pioneers like CooperSmith’s Pub & Brewing.

Coast-to-coast consumption

Taps are flowing along the Pacific, where six of our top 10 cities are located.

South of the Pacific Northwest California cities like San Francisco (No. 4) and the self-proclaimed Craft Beer Capital of America, San Diego (No. 5), stand out for Beer Quality and Community.

San Fran secures first place in “access”, boasting the most craft breweries per square mile, alongside a significant number of beer gardens, pubs, and bars. It’s no wonder the city drank its way to fifth place in average annual beer consumption.

Meanwhile, Charlotte, North Carolina (No. 6), and New York City (No. 9) are our East Coast drinking destinations. The Big Apple boasts plenty of beer tours, and both cities outnumber the competition in beer festivals and events.

Local tips:

  • San Francisco: Grab a pint and tour around Anchor Brewing Co., one of the oldest — if not the oldest — American craft breweries. Love trying experimental beer flavors? Check out Cellarmaker Brewing Company.
  • San Diego: Try SoCal suds at the San Diego Brew Festival or go global at the San Diego International Beer Festival.
  • Charlotte: Taste winning brews from the city’s oldest brewery, The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery. Be sure to also check out NoDa Brewing Company, which recently won gold at the World Beer Cup and U.S. Open Beer Championship.
  • New York: IPA lovers should check out the Green City Championship, hosted by Brooklyn’s Other Half Brewing.

Draught drought

BYOB in small Texas cities Brownsville and Laredo, which sank to the very bottom of our ranking. With low scores across the board, they join Bridgeport, Connecticut, and Newark, New Jersey, at the bottom of the barrel.

New Jersey has built a reputation as a buzzkill, limiting craft breweries from selling certain foods, hosting trivia nights, happy hours, and live music, or even inviting food trucks to the premises. Despite this, Jersey City managed to pull ahead at No. 28, thanks to plenty of pubs and the most beer gardens per square mile.

Don’t forget to Eat

While enjoying your beer tasting day, it’s always a good idea to grab a bite to eat to help absorb the alcohol. Not to mention that you are hungry right? With all the styles and flavors of beers these days, it’s hard to know which ones accentuate a food or simply drown it out. Here’s a primer on beer and food pairing to make the most of your day in the best cities for beer lovers.