Beercations are officially ‘a thing’, and while we wrote about the six best beer towns in America, if you’re looking for a vacation getaway with great local beer and craft brewing scene, these are the best beer cities for you. The craft beer scene has exploded across the country in recent years to no one’s surprise, and with it, some surprising cities have become serious beer scene hotspots with internationally acclaimed craft breweries.
In the Travelocity survey of 1,300 people’s preferences and needs regarding beer tourism in the United States, the travel site worked with the Brewers Association to determine the best large metro areas that can aptly provide an easy and refreshing vacation.
6. Santa Rose-Petaluma, California
Three words: Pliny the Elder. Funnily enough, Russian River Brewing was founded by Korbel Champagne Cellars in 1997 and since then, pioneered a craft beer cult around the elusive Pliny the Elder, a double IPA first brewed in 2000.
The beer itself is offered in scarce quantities around the country, but a trip to Santa Rosa means you can have Pliny and its sibling, Pliny the Younger on tap.
This is our unique version of an ancient style. A style as old as the ocean trade routes of the last centuries of Great Ships. Not as old as the equator they had to cross twice enroute, nor as old as the 10,000 miles or so of Di-Hydrogen Oxide and Sodium upon which they sailed, but older than the Circulithium-4 Lentoid that binds the Lupulin Quartnate onto your taste buds. Weird. Think about it. Now stop. OK, go again. Now stop. Think again. And stop. But we digress. Made with 43 different hops and 65 various malts, this redolent ale will likely float your boat, whatever planet you're on. Cheers! #IPA
Santa Rosa and Petaluma are also home to Lagunitas Brewing, Petaluma Hills Brewing Company, Fogbelt Brewing Company, Moonlight Brewing, and Plow Brewing Company.
That’s not even half of the breweries in the areas, so you’ll probably want to just go ahead and book that plane ticket.
5. Colorado Springs, Colorado
I hope you’re ready for a list overwhelming situated on the West Coast because that’s what’s coming. Colorado is definitely one of the top three states for craft beer, so it’s no surprise that Colorado Springs makes the list as a worthy metro area in the USA.
Phantom Canyon Brewing opened in 1993 and is Colorado Springs’ original brewpub, so it’s probably a good place to start with the wide variety of options in the area, all led by passionate people making incredible craft beer.
However notable breweries include Great Storm Brewing, Storybook Brewing, Red Leg Brewing Company, and Nano 108 Brewing Company. The list could go on and on, it’s hard to choose just one!
4. Portland-South Portland-Biddeford, Maine
My East Coast heart leapt with joy when I saw Portland claim the fourth spot on this list. As an adopted Mainer, I can fully endorse any excuse to go to Vacationland (Maine) any day of the year.
The craft beer culture here only makes it better, and classics such as Allagash Brewing Company and Rising Tide Brewing Company are serious powerhouses when it comes to the craft beer scene.
Foundation Brewing Company, Banded Horn Brewing Co., Barreled Souls Brewing Company, Bissell Brothers Brewing, and Maine Beer Company should all be on your list of flights-to-try.
That being said, no trip to Maine is complete without a mosey on over to the Great Lost Bear, a gosh darn Maine institution, open since 1979, with 78 taps. You read that right: 78.
3. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Washington
And back to the West Coast we go, where Georgetown Brewing Company awaits your arrival. It’s the largest independent brewery in the state, and its famous Manny’s Pale Ale is the original Washington State pale ale.
While it isn’t a brewpub that holds beer tastings, it does have a retail shop where you can stock up on your Georgetown fix, but that just means you can go to local brewpubs where Georgetown is on tap. It’s a must-try.
Other fan favorites include Fremont Brewing, Cloudburst Brewing, Pacific Brewing & Malting Co., Dystopian State, Odd Otter Brewing, and Holy Mountain Brewing.
Don’t forget to check out the famous Pike Place Fish Market where you may or may not get bopped with an airborne salmon.
2. Denver-Aurora, Colorado
Zipping down to Colorado, it makes perfect sense for the Denver metro area to claim the second spot on this best beer cities list. Let’s start with obvious must-visit choice: Crooked Stave Artisans.
Do you like Belgian sour beers? Doesn’t even matter, because once you get one look at these beautiful pours of sours, you’ll be easily converted.
Other notable brewery options include Great Divide Brewing Company, Dry Dock Brewing Co., Call to Arms Brewing Company (led by three former Avery brewers), Epic Brewing Company, and Copper Kettle Brewing Company.
You could throw a rock from your AirBnB or hotel, and hit a brewery square on the patio in Denver so just pick one with a good view of the Rockies and everything will fall into place. You might even find that you prefer the new breweries over the oldest brewery in the city.
Oh, and Denver is also home to the Great American Beer Festival where beer lovers from all nations come together to talk to the best brewers around the country.
1. Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton, Oregon-Washington
Ah, the other Portland depending on which coast you’re from. Either way, you could definitely agree that this metro area deserves the highest honor of beercation city and BridgePort Brewing Company has a whole lot to do with that.
Their entire lineup is legendary, like the Original IPA, the King Pin Double Red Ale, and the Tiny Horse Pilsner. Their seasonal varieties are always shifting, making every visit to the brewpub a new experience.
While you’re in town, don’t forget to visit Deschutes Brewery Portland Public House, The Commons Brewery, Hopworks Urban Brewery, Ghost Runners Brewery, or the Old Ivy Brewery & Taproom.
Did your favorite beer city make the list? While we won’t deny that places like Grand Rapids, Michigan, or Asheville, North Carolina should make the list, somehow they just didn’t rank as well as these huge metropolitan areas did when it comes to ride share availability and distance to the nearest airport.
And like all good things, beer enthusiasts have their own personal best cities, like Chicago, Philadelphia, San Diego, or Boston. If you feel strongly that the Travelocity survey made an egregious error, leave us a comment!