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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The annual Great American Beer Festival (GABF) anchors Denver's beer destination status, but there's more to the scene than the 49,000-person event, which tends to sell out in minutes. These days, Denver boasts classic breweries that still rake in GABF medals, plus new breweries that keep the beer scene fresh with ambitious barrel-aging programs and modern taprooms.
Best Brews, Breweries, and Bars
Denver's classic breweries still pour some of the best beers in town. At Wynkoop, try the Colorojo, a caramely imperial red ale with a hoppy bite. Great Divide Brewing Co. has been one of the city's defining breweries since it opened in 1994. The taproom only serves the brewery's beers, including the year-round Yeti Imperial Stout.
Another classic, the Falling Rock Taphouse, is one of the country's most iconic beer bars with 75 beers on tap and 130 bottles.
Newer hot spots include Epic Brewing Company, a Salt Lake City-based operation that recently expanded to Denver with a new brewing facility and impressive taproom in the hip River North Art District. Nearby, the new Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project taproom serves a range of beers fermented with brettanomyces yeast strains, which add layers of farmhouse funk to the seasonally adjusted St. Bretta Belgian witbier, or wheat beer.
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