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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Put away the brewery tour boots and expectations of tank ogling. Philly is a city where beer drinking happens in world-class bars, some of which are intimately connected to the vast international world of beer. The city has long appreciated Belgian beer styles and boasts its own rich history of lager brewing (Victory, anyone?). These days, it seems like every town is putting on a beer week, but the Philly Beer Week is one of the pioneers and does it right. The defining 10 days are packed with more than 1,000 events, from beer dinners to tap takeovers.
Best Brews, Breweries, and Bars
Worship at the altar of fine Belgian brews at Monk's Cafe, an unparalleled beer bar when it comes to draft imports. For the patriotic, domestic beers come from places like Russian River and Allagash, plus there's a mind-blowing bottle list to pair with mussels and frites. Marc Vetri's Alla Spina, which means "from the tap" in Italian, has a deep tap list with an Italian focus, plus beer cocktails and, for dessert, beer floats. Try the exclusive Alla Spina Novello blonde ale by Victory Brewing. Continuing the global theme, the German-styled Brauhaus Schmit carries rare German beers, which dominate the 30 taps.
The sleek new Tria Taproom has no official national allegiance, which produces an alluring mix of Belgian, German, and American beers on tap. Peruse the list and order using one of the taproom's iPads.
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