Overflowing with breweries, beer bars, brew pubs, beer festivals and pub crawls, the best beer cities in the world are epicentres responsible for flavour and enjoyment that’s built right into their historic architecture. Defined by their commitment to producing and proliferating quality brews, here are our picks for the best beer cities in the world.
There’s a reason Oregon’s City of Roses is also known as “Beervana” and “Beertown.” With the most breweries and independent microbreweries of any city in the world, it played an integral role in the US microbrewery revolution. Many of these facilities help preserve historically significant buildings, and the product itself champions the local flora, with Portland home to two-row barley and over a dozen varieties of local Cascade hops. Here, you’ll find crafts taps at the worst dive bars, beer tour buses, pedal lounges powered by beer tourists, and Chinese restaurants that brew their own rice lager.
Brewing in the Czech capital is both dependent on and synonymous with its history. Dating as far back as 993 AD, brewing here began with the city’s many architecturally astounding monasteries, meaning you can tie your pub crawl to some pretty spectacular sightseeing. Today, Prague’s beer scene is more commercial, dominated by the Molson Coors-owned Staropramen Brewery, but that’s inspired and emboldened a dedicated culture of smaller brewing and brewpubs that’s proliferated since the mid-1400s.
Few regions are as beer-centric as Franconia – Bamberg especially. Germany’s “Brewing Heartland,” it’s known for its smoked Rauchbier, but the old town is also host to a dense brewing scene that connects thirsty beer lovers to nearly 300 other traditional village breweries, and with them, a kaleidoscope of time-honoured traditions.
Centuries ago, London debuted the first IPA and porters to offer beer drinkers distinct new flavours. Today that tradition in local innovation lives on in a thriving craft brewing scene that sees microbreweries and brewpubs opening in the wake of dissolved legacy businesses, often with an emphasis on top fermented casks influenced by hop-heavy styles, and many of the pubs take crawlers on a tourist-worthy scavenger’s hunt through the country’s cultural history.
Munich is known for its massive Oktoberfest celebrations, where only beer brewed within the city limits with a minimum six per cent alcohol is allowed to be served. Despite the purity rule, it’s possible the event evolved out of a more generally accessible drinking culture that encourages strangers to mingle amongst each other. All year round, locals make friends with tourists drinking traditional local brews at long communal tables in massive beer halls and bucolic beer gardens.
Home to the most diversely stocked bar in the world (the Delirium Café serves more than 3000 different beers and ales, sourcing many rare and obscure brews), beer gardens and bars in Brussels often cater to a rounded spectrum of beer drinkers, which only helps its case as one of the best beer cities in the world. It’s is also home to Grand Place, the only UNESCO World Heritage Site to host an annual beer festival.
Not much of the beer in Belgium is brewed there anymore, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t committed. Home to hundreds of beer bars, they’ve gone to impressive lengths to continue their history as an exporter. Amidst concern their 40-tonne beer trucks were damaging the city’s tight historic cobblestone lanes, remaining local brewery the Halve Maan began work on an underground pipeline that will pump their suds right under the medieval city streets, to a bottling plant some 3 km away, raising $516,000 for the project through crowdfunding that will pay funders back in beer.
“The Craft Beer Capital of North America,” San Diego is home to more than 100 breweries, microbreweries, and brewpubs, while its annual Beer Week has bloated into a 10-day, county-wide festival. San Diego pioneered the Double IPA (aka San Diego Pale Ale), and, with its passion for craft beer product intertwined with a local restaurant obsession, it’s a known must-stop for beer tourists.
The birthplace of stout and home to Guinness’s St. James’s Gate Brewery (the largest stout brewer in the world) and the Brazen Head (Ireland’s oldest pub), Dublin also knows the value of a pint of lager. But let’s cut to the chase – where else could you look for a more authentic Irish pub experience?
Beer cities around the world have us reaching for our passports (and sure, one of our neighbourhoods only officially left prohibition behind in 1997), but now more than ever, Toronto is proving its dedication to experimenting and building culture around quality brews. New craft microbreweries, brewpubs, beer bars, and adult playground bars seem to open monthly; we put together entire listicles about our best alleyway bars, beer specials of the week, dive bars, and the patio landscape in given neighbourhoods; and we even have (outdoor) beer festivals in the middle of our cold, Canadian winters.