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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In the past few years, the craft beer scene inside the Beltway has exploded. Drinking in our nation's capital isn't a completely buttoned-up affair, but power lunches near deep beer lists feel grown-up. Commercial brewing here is still new, which means you will find plenty of scrappy upstart breweries with unpretentious tasting rooms, such as Right Proper and DC Brau.
Best Brews, Breweries, and Bars
A can't-miss beer destination, Bluejacket Brewery, occupies a former industrial Navy Yard space that has become an airy brewery and ground-level restaurant called The Tavern. The brewery makes a range of beers to supply the 25 on-site taps, and Beer Director Greg Engert helps design beer recipes to pair with specific dishes, such as the low-alcohol Black Lager, which was made for the Lucy Juicy dry-aged beef burger.
ChurchKey boasts 555 beers, including five casks, 50 drafts, and 500 bottles. Packed with beer aficionados, the beer bar generously shares its tap system with the Birch & Barley restaurant below.
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