It was once the case that a beer city happened to be adjacent to a big national brewery (we're looking at you, St. Louis). But as we all know, the American beer-scape has changed in the last 30 years. Today, there are more than 4,000 craft breweries in the U.S., and most of them are microbreweries — small enough to squeeze into the confined space of a city. So if you want to drink the best beers in the world, head downtown — to San Diego, Philadelphia, Portland, and Milwaukee. The following is a list of cities with beer scenes spearheaded by people who passionately care about brewing and who serve the finest beers in the world. Some towns are more brewery-centric, while others are more intimately connected with the international beer world. But they all take beer to another level, and they all deserve to be on your travel wish list.
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Asheville, North Carolina
What's not to love about an artsy mountain town that's now the brew capitol of the Southeast? With more than 20 breweries, Asheville has become the place to drink fresh local beer in laid-back brewpubs, where it's natural to pair live bluegrass with spicy IPAs. The scene has even attracted three craft beer giants: New Belgium, which will open a location here in 2016, plus Sierra Nevada and Oskar Blues, which have already opened with taprooms.
Best Brews, Breweries, and Bars
One of the town's original breweries, Highland Brewery's first beer was the Gaelic Ale, a reliable amber ale with Cascade and Willamette aroma hops. For thoughtfully brewed beers from a newer spot, head to Burial Beer, where you'll want to sample all the beers but will come back for a pint of the Bolo Coconut Brown. Hops and sours share the spotlight at Wicked Weed Brewing, another new downtown brewery with stellar beers that run the style spectrum. You can't go wrong with the award-winning Pernicious IPA, or anything from the barrel-aging program.
Break away from the breweries to drink at the Thirsty Monk, a beer bar with more than 50 taps and an impressive bottle collection on two levels at its downtown location.
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