Grand Rapids, Mich. Wins Best Beer Scene!

Fort Collins, Colo.; Tampa; Cleveland and Asheville, N.C. also winners

While you can find craft beer just about anywhere these days, not all cities are created equal when it comes to brews. We asked USA TODAY 10Best readers to help us find America's best beer scenes -- places with exceptional beer bars, gastropubs, craft breweries and a thriving beer culture – by voting daily for their favorites.

  • Atlanta

    Atlanta's craft beer scene has been heating up in recent years, thanks in large part to numerous newcomers opening up their taps each year, like the popular Orpheus Brewing. Wrecking Bar, The Porter Beer Bar, The Brick Store and Argosy rank high among the dozens of hot spots for beer aficionados in this Southern city.
    Photo courtesy of Orpheus Brewing

  • Baltimore

    Charm City has come a long way since the days when “Natty Boh” (National Bohemian) served as the city’s official brew. The beer-drinking crowds that flock to the lively Fells Point and Federal Hill neighborhoods now seek out new releases from local darlings such as Heavy Seas Brewery and Union Craft Brewing Company. First-time visitors are smart to make a beeline for two of the mid-Atlantic region’s most lauded bars: Max’s Taphouse and The Brewer’s Art.
    Photo courtesy of Visit Baltimore

  • Portland, Maine

    First-time visitors to Maine’s largest city are often flabbergasted by the exceptional food and drink, leaving some to wonder if they’re in the wrong Portland. Several area breweries - Maine Beer Co., Allagash, Shipyard and Peak Organic - have each cultivated a strong following throughout New England and beyond, and a new wave of upstart producers (Liquid Riot, Bissell Brothers) are changing the way outsiders perceive the Portland beer scene. Novare Res Bier Café and the Great Lost Bear are just two of the beer bars that wouldn’t be out of place in cities ten times Portland’s size.
    Photo courtesy of Portland Convention + Visitors Bureau

  • Chicago

    Thanks to its central location and large population of beer enthusiasts, Chicago offers one of the country’s most comprehensive beer scenes. The Windy City is home to numerous award-winning breweries, several of which (Off Color Brewing, Penrose Brewing Company, Revolution) were started by alumni of Goose Island, the brewery that essentially kicked off Chicago’s craft beer craze. There are plenty of mindblowing beer bars (Local Option, Maria’s Packaged Goods & Community Bar) that provide visitors with a one-stop shop for trying out the best of the Midwest’s craft brews, including Chicago’s own Metropolitan Brewing and Half Acre. Chicago is also big enough to support numerous innovative, forward-thinking brewing operations such as the culinary-focused Moody Tongue.
    Photo courtesy of City of Chicago

  • Philadelphia

    The City of Brotherly Love is a hard-drinking town - ask anyone who’s been on South Street during last call - and more and more Philadelphians are focusing their efforts on enjoying the area’s impressive craft brews. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of top-notch beer bars, from the much-lauded Monk’s Cafe to the equally impressive City Tap House and Eulogy Belgian Tavern. Yards Brewing Company is the city’s most popular craft brewery, and there are several smaller outfits that have popped up in recent years. Perhaps it’s the year-round event calendar that sets Philly’s beer scene apart. Spanning 10 days, Philly Beer Week is the country’s oldest and biggest event of its kind.
    Photo courtesy of M. Fishetti for VISIT PHILADELPHIA

  • Asheville, N.C.

    The “Paris of the South” is believed to have more breweries per capita than any U.S. city. A plethora of friendly beer bars (Thirsty Monk, The Bywater) and bottle shops (Appalachian Vintner, Bruisin’ Ales) provide enthusiasts with easy access to more than 100 local beers. First-time visitors often start out at Wicked Weed’s comprehensive brewpub, and adventurous types make a beeline for the brewery’s “Funkatorium,” where a dozen sour and funky beers are served.
    Photo courtesy of ExploreAsheville.com

  • Cleveland

    Ohio’s oldest craft brewery, Great Lakes Brewing, set up shop in Cleveland in 1988. Ever since, Northeast Ohio has served as a regional mecca for beer enthusiasts. Forward-thinking breweries such Platform Beer Co., Market Garden, Portside and Nano Brew have elevated The Forest City’s beer scene into the national consciousness. City Tap Cleveland, McNulty’s Bier Markt and Tremont Tap House are just three of the many beer bars that give beerhounds ample opportunities to taste the best area brews.
    Photo courtesy of ThisisCleveland.com

  • Tampa

    The nationally-renowned Cigar City Brewery dominates the Tampa beer scene. Good thing, then, that Cigar City’s beers can be enjoyed at many area bars, and the brewery’s welcoming brewpub provides a handy option for those looking to take a deep dive into its roster of award-winning brews. Newer operations such as Tampa Bay Brewing Company, Angry Chair and Coppertail Brewing Company are all making a name for themselves. Various restaurants and bars - most of whom offer sunny outdoor patios - provide easy access to the light, citrusy beers that mirror the local breweries’ surroundings
    Photo courtesy of Visit Tampa Bay

  • Fort Collins, Colo.

    Just over an hour’s drive north of Denver, the city of Fort Collins punches well above its weight when it comes to beer. This city of only 150,000 houses the nationally-renowned heavyweight New Belgium as well as smaller, award-winning breweries such as Odell, Funkwerks and Equinox. College kids and outdoorsy locals welcome the night by sampling the best of the area’s output at a host of beer-focused bars (Tap and Handle, The Mayor of Old Town, The Forge Publick House).
    Photo courtesy of Visit Ft. Collins

  • Grand Rapids, Mich.

    Michigan’s second-largest city sports the state’s strongest beer scene, thanks largely to the presence of the world-renowned Founders Brewing Co. Not to be outdone, there are several other brewing operations around town, most notably the Belgian-inspired Brewery Vivant. The city’s official “Beer City Ale Trail” lists more than 40 breweries in the surrounding area, and the local calendar is constantly filled with beer festivals, events, and promotions. Throw in exceptional beer stores such as Siciliano’s Market, and it’s easy to see why Grand Rapids proudly stakes its claim as “Beer City USA.”
    Photo courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

After four weeks of voting, the results are in! Grand Rapids, Mich. was the clear winner and deserving of the title Best Beer Scene!

The top 10 winners in the category Best Beer Scene are as follows:

  1. Grand Rapids, Mich.
  2. Fort Collins, Colo.
  3. Tampa
  4. Cleveland
  5. Asheville, N.C.
  6. Philadelphia
  7. Chicago
  8. Portland, Maine
  9. Baltimore
  10. Atlanta

A panel of experts picked the initial 20 nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote. Experts Mike Arra (Bon Beer Voyage), Jim Dykstra & Chris Guest (The Beer Connoisseur), Julia Herz (Brewers Association), Gary Monterosso (What’s On Tap), Jack Muldowney (The Hop Review) and Ale Sharpton (AleSharpton.com) were chosen based on their extensive beer knowledge and experience.

Other nominees for Best Beer Scene included Austin; Boston; Burlington, Vt.; Denver; Kansas City, Mo.; New York; Portland, Ore.; San DiegoSan Francisco and Seattle.

10Best and USA TODAY extend their congratulations to all the winning cities.

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Mike Arra

Jim Dykstra & Chris Guest

Julia Herz

Gary Monterosso

Jack Muldowney

Ale Sharpton

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