Best Beer Scene (2020)


These 10 American cities were voted by 10Best readers for 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 Explore St. Louis

  • Milwaukee


    There’s good reason the Milwaukee baseball team is called the Brewers. Beer giant Miller Brewing put the city on the beer map, and a host of modern craft breweries and beer bars have maintained its legacy as an epic beer destination. Beer history is on display at places like the Original Pabst Headquarters and Miller Brewery Visitor Center. Those looking to try something new can to so at some of the city’s many beer gardens, pubs, beer bars and craft breweries.
    Photo courtesy of Visit Milwaukee

  • Grand Rapids

    Grand Rapids

    Winner of two past Best Beer Scene titles, 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 80 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

    North Carolina

    The “Paris of the South” has more breweries per capita than just about 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

  • Charlotte

    North Carolina

    The Queen City enjoys easy access to dozens of breweries serving award-winning local beers, including the likes of Birdsong Brewing Co., Free Range Brewing, the Olde Mecklenburg Brewery and Heist. The city hosts its own Queen City Brewers Festival each February.
    Photo courtesy of / Kyo H Nam

  • Richmond


    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

  • Athens


    Athens has a big beer scene in a small package, which began with the opening of Terrapin Beer Company in 2002. Heavy hitters, like Creature Comforts Brewing Co. Trappeze Pub, The Pine and Five Points Bottle Shop add to the appeal, along with newly opened offerings, like Normaltown Brewing Company.
    Photo courtesy of Fiona Hicks / Athens Convention & Visitors Bureau

  • 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 Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, and today there are a plethora of new-school breweries and brewpubs that dot the scenic landscape.
    Photo courtesy of Rebecca Todd / Visit Denver

  • Portland, Maine

    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. 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 iStock / DenisTangneyJr

  • 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 a huge number of breweries (160 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.
    Photo courtesy of Adam Alexander Photography / Choose Chicago

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

  1. St. Louis, Missouri
  2. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  3. Grand Rapids, Michigan
  4. Asheville, North Carolina
  5. Charlotte, North Carolina
  6. Richmond, Virginia
  7. Athens, Georgia
  8. Denver, Colorado
  9. Portland, Maine
  10. Chicago, Illinois

A panel of experts partnered with 10Best editors to pick the initial nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote.

Congratulations to all these winning cities!

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