One result of the craft beer explosion in the United States is that good beer is now being produced in some far-flung places. Local output also revs up regional pride, so expect the following list to be quite controversial. Livability.com—best known for listing the 100 best places to live in America—just released a ranking of the top 10 American beer cities, excluding Brooklyn, Boston, San Francisco and Portland, to name a few.
For the following lineup, the company researched metrics like how many award-winning beers a city produces, breweries per capita and whether residents choose craft beer over the mass-produced stuff. Whatever your opinion on the results, let it be said that the featured cities are home to some great breweries. Here, 10 of our favorites.
1. Bend, OR: Deschutes Brewery
If you’ve been lucky enough to drink one of Deschutes’ Fresh Squeezed IPAs, you know that they are doing special things in Bend.
2. Denver: Great Divide Brewing Co.
Denver cemented its reputation as a great beer town when they elected a brewer as mayor in 2003. The area has a number of great breweries, with Great Divide and their Yeti Imperial Stout and Hercules Double IPA leading the way.
3. San Diego: Ballast Point
When they hear San Diego beer, lots of people think of Stone Brewing, but Ballast Point and their Sculpin IPA deserves some serious praise.
4. Albuquerque, NM: La Cumbre
Yes, there is a National IPA championship, and La Cumbre’s Project Dank took home that honor this year. The brewery also hosts yoga classes twice a month if you need to find your center after downing a pint.
5. Tampa, FL: Cigar City Brewing
The Tampa brewery has a perfect score from Beer Advocate, and Sierra Nevada selected them as one of just 12 breweries in America to collaborate with during this year’s massive Beer Camp festival.
6. Grand Rapids, MI: Founders
Grand Rapids’s leading brewery makes a lot of great beers, but their imperial Breakfast Stout is worth going out of your way to find.
7. St. Louis: 4 Hands Brewery
4 Hands always has some interesting and innovative brews on tap, like their wintery Blackberry Chocolate Milk Stout.
8. Bellingham, WA: Boundary Bay Brewing
Boundary Bay has been racking up medals at the North American Beer Awards for years and is regularly recognized as one of the best breweries in one of the best beer regions in the country.
9. Hershey, PA: Tröegs
Hershey would be a surprising addition to this list indeed if it weren’t for the consistently fantastic beer put out by Tröegs. Released every Christmas, their Mad Elf Ale is a must-try.
10. Billings, MT: Montana Brewing Company
The MBC’s Whitetail Wheat just took home top honors at the Great American Beer Festival.