8 of the Best Cities for Beer Drinkers Around the World
There’s never been a better time to be a beer lover with a passport. Across Europe, beery destinations including Munich, Prague, and Brussels offer the chance to experience—and taste—longstanding liquid tradition (alongside new flourishes of modernity). And in the US and elsewhere, a number of cities have made names for themselves as innovative craft brewing hubs.
Whether you choose to soak up the pub culture and cask ale in London, hit up the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, or gulp bracing West Coast IPAs in San Diego, here are eight of the best cities for beer drinkers around the world.
Oktoberfest (which, take note, actually begins in September) is when most visitors think to visit Munich. It’s true that the festival, attended by some 6 million people each year, is a sight to behold—but the Bavarian capital remains a world-class beer destination throughout the year. Munich is primarily celebrated for its lager styles (though hefeweizen bucks the trend), and in summer, you’ll find locals gulping steins of helles in the city’s biergartens, run by breweries the likes of Augustiner and Ayinger. In winter, they’ll be cozied up in their bierkellers or lining their stomachs with hearty fare at the city’s legendary Hofbräuhaus. And at the beginning of spring, they’ll opt for strong, dark doppelbocks during Starkbierfest.
Beer in Brussels is a big deal, and its variety speaks to Belgium’s own eclecticism. Local stalwart Brasserie Cantillon has earned worldwide fans for its coveted lambic and gueuze styles. Sleek craft breweries such as Brasserie de la Senne and Brussels Beer Project meld Belgian styles with international tastes. And beers from breweries outside Brussels—from Trappist favorites including Rochefort and Chimay to singular producers such as Rodenbach and Dupont—are accessible in the city’s many bars and drinking dens. If you’re overwhelmed by the abundance, a guided tasting tour or brewery visit make navigating the scene simpler.
As the state that officially has the most breweries per capita, Maine is a natural destination for beer lovers—and Portland’s hometown heroes certainly make it a city worth traveling to. The incomparable Allagash has the feeling of an elder statesman these days, and drinking Allagash White at the source is a true bucket-list experience for beer geeks. Afterwards, drop by other local favorites such as Bissell Brothers and Oxbow; head to beer bar Novare Res to taste the best of the region (as well as rare beers from farther afield); and go for a food walking tour afterwards to sop up those suds.
No matter what kind of beer-drinking experience you’re looking for, you can probably find it in London. Seeking well-kept pints of traditional cask ale? Head to atmospheric pubs including the Harp in Covent Garden or the Southampton Arms in Gospel Oak. After new-school craft? Don’t miss the breweries of the Bermondsey Beer Mile, including highlights such as the Kernel and Anspach & Hobday. And for an immersive overview of the British capital’s unique drinking culture, venture on a historical pub tour or explore some of the hippest haunts in the East End.
Related article: Pubs with History: London's Most Unusual Drinking Dens
Every autumn, the Great American Beer Festival (or GABF)—among the largest events of its kind in the world—touches down in Denver for several days of nonstop beery extravaganza. If you can time your visit to coincide with the festival, it’s a whirlwind experience—but if not, there’s still plenty to do in Denver. From Instagram-worthy lagers at Bierstadt Lagerhaus and funky wild beers at Black Project to longstanding favorites at Great Divide, there’s a huge range to taste through.
Insider tip: Consider a day trip to nearby Fort Collins to visit landmark breweries such as New Belgium and Odell.
Lager is king in Prague, and for good reason: the nearby city of Pilsen is where, in 1842, the first-ever pilsner was brewed. Today, golden, foam-capped pints of pilsner (also known locally as světlý ležák) are ubiquitous across the Czech capital. Begin by ordering fresh pints of that world-first pilsner—Pilsner Urquell—to really appreciate its classic Czech character (think: sweet, toasty malt intermingled with punchy Saaz hops). Then, go deeper during a tutored tasting of classic Czech beers, on a visit to the Czech Beer Museum, at Prague’s famed pubs, or while dropping by local microbreweries.
Long before brewers on the East Coast gained fame for their hazy IPAs, brewers on the West Coast were perfecting their version of the style—pin-bright; loaded up with “C hops” such as Cascade, Chinook, and Centennial; brazenly bitter; and sometimes dosed with counterbalancing caramel malt. San Diego was at the core of that scene, and, today, those influential breweries are still slinging pints locally, including the likes of Pizza Port, Stone, and AleSmith. Head out on a comprehensive brewery tour to visit local highlights—and even consider crossing the border to the neighboring city of Tijuana to discover its craft beer scene (plus some exemplary tacos).
For most travelers, Rome might be better associated with glasses of wine and spritzy aperitivi than beer, but make no mistake because the Italian capital is a bonafide beer town. Italy is actually home to one of Europe’s most innovative and thriving craft beer scenes—there are over 800 breweries in the country, dedicated festivals, and even locally devised styles including Italian Grape Ale and Italian Pilsner kicking around. For a taster, head to Rome, and come thirsty. Two of Italy’s best-known breweries—Birra del Borgo and Baladin—have outposts in the Eternal City, and beer bars such as Ma Che Siete Venuti a Fà attract local and international crowds.