Never before has there been a greater moment to be a traveling beer enthusiast. Munich, Prague, and Brussels are just a few of the European cities where beer lovers may enjoy and partake in a long-standing liquid history. (alongside new flourishes of modernity). And a number of places, both in the US and abroad, have established themselves as unique craft brewing hubs. Here are eight of the best places in the world for beer enthusiasts, whether you want to experience the pub scene and cask ale in London, attend the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, or guzzle refreshing West Coast IPAs in San Diego.
Here are the top cities for a beer crawl, from traditional favorites to cutting-edge pioneers.
Hanoi – Vietnam
The most popular nightlife district in Hanoi for locals, backpackers, flashpackers, and tourists alike is Beer Street. People from all over the world congregate on this street, which is lined with fresh kegs of beer, to sit on colorful little plastic stools at little plastic tables that spill out into the sidewalks. One of the cheapest beers in the entire world may be found here. You may easily have one of the best nights out in Hanoi for less than $5 with only 7,000 vnd to 10,000 vnd per cup. Even though the beer only has 4% alcohol by volume, it won’t take you more than a few glasses to start feeling a bit tipsy.
Munich – Germany
Most tourists consider visiting Munich during Oktoberfest, which, as you should be aware, actually starts in September. Although the festival, which draws around 6 million visitors annually, is spectacular, the Bavarian city is still a top destination for beer throughout the year. Munich is known for its lagers (though hefeweizen deviates from the norm), and in the summer, you can see residents chugging helles in the city’s biergartens, which are run by breweries like Augustiner and Ayinger. In the winter, they’ll be curled up in their bierkellers or filling up at the city’s fabled Hofbräuhaus with hearty meals. And during Starkbierfest at the start of spring, they’ll choose robust, dark doppelbocks.
Brussels – Belgium
Beer is a huge deal in Brussels, and the variety available reflects Belgium’s own eclecticism. For its highly sought-after lambic and gueuze styles, local institution Brasserie Cantillon has gained followers all over the world. Breweries with a modern aesthetic like Brasserie de la Senne and Brussels Beer Project combine Belgian traditions with global flavors. The city’s numerous taverns and drinking establishments also provide beers from breweries outside of Brussels, including Trappist mainstays like Rochefort and Chimay and unique manufacturers like Rodenbach and Dupont. If the abundance overwhelms you, a guided tasting tour or brewery visit will help you navigate the area.
Maine – Portland
Maine is a natural destination for beer aficionados as it boasts the most breweries per capita than any other state, and Portland’s homegrown heroes make it a location well worth visiting. Drinking Allagash White at the source is a true beer geek bucket list experience, and the legendary Allagash has the air of an aged gentleman these days. Visit further neighborhood favorites like Bissell Brothers and Oxbow thereafter. Then, go to beer bar Novare Res to sample the best local brews as well as uncommon imports from further afield. Finally, take a culinary walking tour to soak up those suds.
London – England
You may probably find any type of beer-drinking experience you’re seeking for in London. In search of traditional cask ales in good condition? Visit evocative bars like the Southampton Arms in Gospel Oak or the Harp in Covent Garden. following new-school crafts? The breweries along the Bermondsey Beer Mile are not to be missed, especially the Kernel and Anspach & Hobday. Explore some of the hippest hangouts in the East End or go on a historical pub tour for a comprehensive look at the distinctive drinking culture of the British city.
Denver – Colorado
The Great American Beer Festival (also known as GABF), one of the biggest festivals of its kind in the world, arrives in Denver every autumn for several days of nonstop beer revelry. It’s a frenetic experience if you can arrange your trip to coincide with the festival, but if not, Denver still has plenty to offer. There is a wide variety to sample, ranging from Instagram-worthy lagers at Bierstadt Lagerhaus and wacky wild brews at Black Project to time-honored favorites at Great Divide.
Prague – Czech Republic
Because the first-ever pilsner was brewed in the adjacent city of Pilsen in 1842, lager is the drink of choice in Prague, and for good reason. The Czech city is suddenly filled with golden, foam-capped pints of pilsner, also known as svtl leák. Order fresh pints of Pilsner Urquell, the world’s original pilsner, to properly appreciate its traditional Czech flavour. (think: sweet, toasty malt intermingled with punchy Saaz hops). Then, delve deeper during a guided sampling of traditional Czech beers, at Prague’s renowned pubs, while visiting the Czech Beer Museum, or while stopping by nearby microbreweries.
San Diego – California
Brewers on the West Coast were honing their version of the style long before brewers on the East Coast became famous for their hazy IPAs; it was pin-bright, heavy with “C hops” like Cascade, Chinook, and Centennial, boldly bitter, and occasionally dosed with balanced caramel malt. San Diego was the center of that scene, and today those important brewers, including Pizza Port, Stone, and AleSmith, are still serving local beer. Go on a thorough brewery tour to see the best spots in the area; you might even want to consider going across the border to the nearby city of Tijuana to explore its craft beer sector. (plus some exemplary tacos).
Rome – Italy
Rome may be more commonly associated with glasses of wine and spritzy aperitivi than with beers, but don’t be fooled—the Italian capital is a true beer town. In fact, Italy has one of the most creative and vibrant craft beer industries in all of Europe. There are over 800 breweries there, as well as numerous festivals and locally created beers like Italian Grape Ale and Italian Pilsner. Go to Rome for a taste, and bring a thirst. The Eternal City is home to branches of Baladin and Birra del Borgo, two of the most well-known breweries in Italy. Locals and tourists alike frequent beer bars like Ma Che Siete Venuti a Fà.