Location counts for little if you’re a beer lover. What matters more is the brew. Well, and the temperature.
Provided the taps never run dry, you’re happy to imbibe in a rundown saloon in the Wild West or some dark, scruffy dingy joint that reminds you of Thailand. Unless, of course, you’re the smug beer snob who’s concerned with the setting as much as you are with the hop varieties.
However, every beer lover also knows some cities are better than others when it comes to quenching one’s thirst for the carbonated beverage, factoring in aspects like availability, variety, and of course, price.
If you’re at a moment in your life where you’re not shackled by things like family or a stationary job, there are some US cities with a thriving beer scene you might want to consider putting down roots in and exploring at a more up-close and personal level.
But before you pack your bags, book a moving company and set off in the sunset, it’s worth exploring what options are there. Because while beer might be the chief draw, you also want a city that speaks to you because hey, that will be your new home for the time being.
Below, we share five of the top beer cities in the US that are unique in ways that should appeal to every persona out there while also providing something more than just the beer – for example, employment opportunities, quality of life, affordability and so on.
Asheville, North Carolina
With 26 breweries within its city precincts, Asheville has one of the highest number of breweries per 100,000 residents in the country, second only to Portland (the Maine one); and only just.
The city of a little under 92,000 residents has an impressive line-up of some of the most highly regarded outposts in the nation, including familiar names like New Belgium, Sierra Nevada, and Highland Brewing Company, the oldest craft brewery in the city.
Beer and rent in Asheville average $4 and $1,113/month respectively, and if you’re an outdoorsy type, don’t be surprised if this aesthetic beer mecca in the east with its Colorado vibes becomes your home for good.
Speaking of Colorado, Denver is not a name that would immediately spring to mind when the topic of best beer cities comes up. But the city of 700,000 has the second-highest total number of breweries among American cities, with 80 breweries calling it home.
Unfortunately, beer in Denver is a bit pricey for a city with such an embarrassment of options, retailing at $5 on average.
But this is also one of the most livable cities in the US – the most livable for mid-sized cities in fact – and that comes at a price.
As a resident, though, you can always look forward to the annual three-day beer festival, the Great American Beer Festival, the quality of life notwithstanding.
Since 2010, Austin has absorbed the largest number of Americans relocating from other states, absorbing a whopping 16% of the total population in 2019 alone, for example.
High number of job opportunities coupled with a low cost of living (especially for a city its size) has made Austin such a huge draw, among other reasons.
An entertainment mecca in its own right – particularly on the music front – now you’ve got another reason to move to Austin, Texas: beer.
The college town and state capital have not just the numbers, but also some of the most unique styles of the brewery you’ll find anywhere in the world.
If you’re aiming for a more affordable beer city that doesn’t compromise much on the quality of life, fewer American cities fit the bill.
A haven of coffee shops, restaurants, parks and bars serving everything from local brews to established malt beverages, Pittsburgh is a large city that boasts 30 bars per every 100,000 residents.
The city of 1.7 million people is home to 24 breweries, with a beer averaging 4 bucks.
Look, we could include Portland, Maine in this list as well, but as home to the largest number of local breweries of any city in the world (north of 80) the Oregon version just about edges it.
The mid-sized city of approximately 645,000 residents has a rich beer-infused culture and you’ll probably need about two lifetimes to soak yourself in it, seeing as there’s always something new popping up every once in a while.
Portland is also one of the most pedestrian-friendly cities in the country.