Top 10 US Cities for Beer Enthusiasts

We’ve analyzed all of the most buzzed-about hops hubs throughout the country to determine the Top Ten (or so) cities for craft beer aficionados.

It’s no secret craft beer has grown exponentially in the past few years, giving beer snobs throughout the country an embarrassment of riches when it comes to finding all styles of ale.

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But craft beer still only accounts for 12.7% of beer production in the country.

So if you consider yourself a true craft beer enthusiast, proximity to decent breweries and pubs might be something to consider when moving.

Our methodology went something like this:

  • Breweries and Bars: When looking at cities for fans of hops, having access to a wide variety of breweries and bars to choose from is pretty important. We’ve scoured Beer Advocate to find the cities with the most sources of ice-cold brewskis.
  • Walkability: If beer is a pastime of yours, you’ll need a way to get yourself home. Ridesharing services are great for getting around without driving, but the cost can add up quick. We’ve consulted Walkscore to determine how easy it’ll be for you to make your way home on foot.
  • Demographics: Look, the fact of the matter is many people of a certain generation don’t want more from beer than your basic domestics, which is why places with younger populations tend to attract more brewers. We’ve taken this into account and ranked each city by the percentage of people between the ages of 21 and 39.
  • Can You Afford Fancy Beer: While having good beer nearby may be important, we’ve also taken into account things like a city’s unemployment rate and cost of living index to make sure you’ll have enough take home pay to treat yourself.

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10. Portland, ME

Portland, ME - Best Beer Cities

Beer City Score: 78

  • # of Breweries: 26
  • Bars & Pubs: 22
  • Walkability: 61
  • Age Demographics (21-39): 36%
  • Unemployment Rate: 2.3%
  • Cost of Living Index: 114

On top of being a beautiful New England coastal city, Portland, Maine boasts having the most microbreweries per capita. The sheer density of local beer combined with an extremely low unemployment rate earn it the #10 spot on our list.

Notable Breweries:

Liquid Riot Bottling Company, Allagash Brewing Company, Owbow Blending & Bottling

9. Detroit, MI

Detroit, MI - Best Beer Cities

Beer City Score: 79

  • # of Breweries: 43
  • Bars & Pubs: 50
  • Walkability: 55
  • Age Demographics (21-39): 29%
  • Unemployment Rate: 7.8%
  • Cost of Living Index: 80

As part of their long-term revitalization strategy, Detroit’s craft beer industry has experienced a solid amount of growth and has been making an effort to highlight female brewmasters. This city is big, so there will be plenty of breweries and bars to choose from. Plus, Detroit has a shockingly low cost of living for a city this size.

Notable Breweries:

Motor City Brewing Works, Dragonmead, Detroit Beer Company

8. Grand Rapids, MI

Grand Rapids, MI - Best Beer Cities

Beer City Score: 80

  • # of Breweries: 38
  • Bars & Pubs: 21
  • Walkability: 55
  • Age Demographics (21-39): 36%
  • Unemployment Rate: 4.2%
  • Cost of Living Index: 88

It’s no surprise that a place dubbed Beer City, USA made the list, what with the plethora of breweries and brewery tours available in Grand Rapids. With over 80 breweries, a ton of bars, and a fairly low cost of living, Grand Rapids has everything you need to satisfy your love of craft beers or otherwise.

Notable Breweries:

New Holland Brewing, Brewery Vivant, Founders

7. Austin, TX

Austin, TX - Best Beer Cities

Beer City Score: 81

  • # of Breweries: 36
  • Bars & Pubs: 41
  • Walkability: 40
  • Age Demographics (21-39): 39%
  • Unemployment Rate: 2.6%
  • Cost of Living Index: 107

Austin, Texas is home to the legendary South by Southwest festival, a thriving tech scene, a fairly young population, and a low unemployment rate.

Oh, and also there’s a ton of unique craft beer available throughout the city.

Notable Breweries:

Austin beer Garden Brewing Co., Live Oak, Blue Owl Brewing

6. St Louis, MO

St Louis, MO - Best Beer Cities

Beer City Score: 83

  • # of Breweries: 24
  • Bars & Pubs: 33
  • Walkability: 65
  • Age Demographics (21-39): 34%
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.8%
  • Cost of Living Index: 89

In 2018, St Louis was voted as having the Best Beer Scene in the country by USA Today readers. St Louis snagged the 6th spot on our list by being very well-rounded but it also gets high marks for its affordability.

Notable Breweries:

Urban Chestnut Brewing Company, 2nd Shift Brewing, Narrow Gauge Brewing Company

5 (tie). Portland, OR

Portland, OR - Best Beer Cities

Beer City Score: 84

  • # of Breweries: 50
  • Bars & Pubs: 50
  • Walkability: 65
  • Age Demographics (21-39): 35%
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.4%
  • Cost of Living Index: 123

As one of the country’s great hipster meccas, it’s no surprise that Portland was one of the United States’ original great craft beer cities. While the city has a pretty high cost of living, the wealth of available breweries and pubs will definitely make it worth your while as long as you can foot the bill.

Notable Breweries:

Cascade Brewing, Occidental Brewing Company, Stormbreaker Brewing

5 (tie). Boston, MA

Boston, MA - Best Beer Cities

Beer City Score: 84

  • # of Breweries: 19
  • Bars & Pubs: 50
  • Walkability: 81
  • Age Demographics (21-39): 41%
  • Unemployment Rate: 3%
  • Cost of Living Index: 148

The city of Boston has a proud tradition of pub patronage which is demonstrated by it housing the 2nd largest craft brewery by volume in the United States. Boston also features the most bars, best walkability, and highest density of 21-39 year-olds on our list.

Notable Breweries:

Trillium Brewing Company, Samuel Adams (Boston Brewing Company), Harpoon Brewery

4. Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh, PA - Best Beer Cities

Beer City Score: 85

  • # of Breweries: 32
  • Bars & Pubs: 50
  • Walkability: 62
  • Age Demographics (21-39): 38%
  • Unemployment Rate: 4.3%
  • Cost of Living Index: 91

Coming hot off the heels of organizing the Pittsburgh Brewers Guild, this city is building up its massive beer tourism and distribution industries. While no single stat stands out, Pittsburgh is extremely well-rounded on every factor.

Notable Breweries:

Dancing Gnome Beer, Voodoo Brewery, Grist House Craft Brewery

3 (tie). Denver, CO

Denver, CO - Best Beer Cities

Beer City Score: 86

  • # of Breweries: 50
  • Bars & Pubs: 26
  • Walkability: 61
  • Age Demographics (21-39): 38%
  • Unemployment Rate: 2.8%
  • Cost of Living Index: 115

As the home to the largest beer festival in the country, Denver is a major force in the national craft brewing scene. Tying for the third-place spot on our list, Denver is overflowing with breweries along with having low unemployment and a fairly young population.

Notable Breweries:

WildWerks Brewing, Renegade Brewing Company, Rock Bottom Brewery

3 (tie). Seattle, WA

Seattle, WA - Best Beer Cities

Beer City Score: 86

  • # of Breweries: 50
  • Bars & Pubs: 50
  • Walkability: 73
  • Age Demographics (21-39): 39%
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.6%
  • Cost of Living Index: 159

The state of Washington is the largest producer of domestic hops in the United States so it’s no wonder that Seattle has a high volume of bars and breweries. And the city’s walkability and young population are solid counterbalances to its high cost of living.

Notable Breweries:

Urban Family Brewing Co., Fremont Brewing Company, Ghostfish Brewing Company

2. San Francisco, CA

San Francisco Best Beer Cities

Beer City Score: 87

  • # of Breweries: 50
  • Bars & Pubs: 50
  • Walkability: 78
  • Age Demographics (21-39): 35%
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.1%
  • Cost of Living Index: 146

San Francisco is home to some massive breweries whose recent sales have left a wide opening for smaller brewers to make a name for themselves. San Francisco has a pretty great walk score and fairly low unemployment to go with all of the mammoth breweries, too. (Prepare yourself for an insane cost of living though)

Notable Breweries:

Magnolia Brewing Co., 21st Amendment Brewery, Cellarmaker Brewing Co.

1. Milwaukee, WI

Milwaukee, WI - Best Beer Cities

Beer City Score: 91

  • # of Breweries: 46
  • Bars & Pubs: 50
  • Walkability: 62
  • Age Demographics (21-39): 33%
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.8%
  • Cost of Living Index: 89

As our #1 city for beer lovers, Milwaukee is going through something of a craft beer renaissance with a huge influx of new breweries opening in the past few years.

Milwaukee is also really affordable, fairly walkable, and has a generally young population, making it our best city for beer lovers.

Notable Breweries:

Lakefront Brewery, Good City Brewing, Rock Bottom Brewery


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