Best Beer Scene (2018)


These 10 American cities were nominated by a panel of beer experts and voted by 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. 

  • St. Louis

    St. Louis

    Large German and Irish populations, plenty of water and rail connections pretty much destined St. Louis to have a thriving beer scene. The city is not only home to Anheuser-Busch, the world's largest brewer, but a host of other craft breweries and pubs the likes of 4 Hands, Urban Chestnut and Schlafly. The 50 taps at 21st Street Brewer’s Bar give beer lovers a chance to sample many local brews in one spot, while the popular Bridge Tap House & Wine Bar boasts a beer list of more than 200 labels.
    Photo courtesy of St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission

  • Grand Rapids, Mich.

    Grand Rapids, Mich.

    Holder of the title Best Beer Scene for the past two years, 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

  • Richmond, Va.

    Richmond, Va.

    A beer destination on the rise, Richmond's lineup of 25-plus craft breweries – Veil, Strangeways and Triple Crossing among them – are earning awards and fans across the country. Heavyweight Stone Brewing Co. opened a location in Richmond in 2016. Beer bars like Mekong, The Answer, Saison and Cask Cafe keep local beer lovers happy.
    Photo courtesy of Visit Richmond

  • 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 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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 (60 and counting), 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 mind blowing beer bars (Local Option, Hopleaf, 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 Photo Courtesy of Choose Chicago

  • 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 George & The Dragon keep beer aficionados happy.
    Photo courtesy of Meet Minneapolis

  • Denver


    As the home of the world-renowned Great American Beer Festival, Denver attracts tens of thousands of beer lovers annually; over time, many of those attendees decided to set up shop in the Mile High City. The local behemoth that is Coors once cast a shadow over the Denver beer scene, but that shadow has been cast aside by the roughly 100 craft breweries, brewpubs and tap rooms currently operating in the metro area. Denver’s first brewpub, the Wynkoop Brewing Company, was co-founded in 1988 by former Denver Mayor (and current Colorado Governor) John Hickenlooper, and today there are a plethora of new-school breweries and brewpubs that dot the scenic landscape.
    Photo courtesy of Visit Denver

  • 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

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

  1. St. Louis
  2. Grand Rapids, Mich.
  3. Richmond, Va.
  4. Cleveland
  5. Fort Collins, Colo.
  6. Tampa
  7. Chicago
  8. Minneapolis
  9. Denver
  10. Asheville, N.C.

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), Gary Monterosso (What’s On Tap), Jack Muldowney (The Hop Review) and Ale Sharpton were chosen based on their knowledge and experience of the North American beer scene.

Congratulations to all these winning beer 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