Best Beer Scene (2017)


These 10 American cities were nominated by a panel of beer experts and voted on by USA TODAY 10Best readers as having the best beer scenes in the nation – stellar selections of established and up-and-coming breweries, beer bars, brewpubs, beer festivals and even thriving homebrew communities where novice brewers can get their foot in the door. 

  • Grand Rapids, Mich.

    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

  • Asheville, N.C.

    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

  • Fort Collins, Colo.

    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

  • 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 Adam Alexander Photography

  • 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

  • Minneapolis


    The Land of 10,000 Lakes could also be called the Land of 10,000 Brews, thanks to the stellar beer scene in Minneapolis – there are some 50 breweries in the Twin Cities metro area alone. Popular breweries include Fulton Brewing, Surly Brewing Co. and Dangerous Man Brewing Co., while beer bars and gastropubs like Republic, William's Uptown Pub & Peanut Bar and Pig & Fiddle keep beer aficionados happy.
    Photo courtesy of Meet Minneapolis

  • Cincinnati


    Cincinnati was already a major beer-producing city in the mid-1800s, with more than 36 breweries, and that legacy continues into the present day. Beer fans can tour original brewery buildings and underground tunnels in the Over-the-Rhine Brewery District before sitting down for a cold one at one of the city's many beer-centric establishments, including Rhinegeist, Blank Slate Brewing Co., DogBerry Brewing or Fifty West Brewing Co.
    Photo courtesy of Montgomery Inn

  • 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

  • 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 BarThe Porter Beer BarThe Brick Store and Argosy rank high among the dozens of hot spots for beer aficionados in this Southern city.
    Photo courtesy of 2015, James Duckworth, courtesy of ACVB &

  • 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 J. Fusco for VISIT PHILADELPHIA

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

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

A panel of experts partnered with 10Best editors to picked the initial 20 nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote. Experts Mike Arra (Bon Beer Voyage), Jack Muldowney (The Hop Review) and Ale Sharpton ( were chosen based on their knowledge and experience in the American beer industry.

Congratulations to all these winning beer-centric cities!

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Mike Arra

Mike Arra

Mike Arra

Gary Monterosso

Gary Monterosso

Gary Monterosso

Jack Muldowney

Jack Muldowney

Jack Muldowney

Dennis Malcolm "Ale" Sharpton

Dennis Malcolm "Ale" Sharpton

Dennis Malcolm "Ale" Sharpton