The World’s Best Beer Cities

Hi-Wire (197 Hilliard Avenue, Asheville, North Carolina 28801) has a good vibe, with the brewery sitting behind the bar and the beers tasting decent (a vague description, but I think I’d been to a few breweries by this point and my notes descended into useless doodles, which I assume means the beers were good or I’d have written bad stuff about them.)

Bhramari Brewing (101 South Lexington, Asheville, North Carolina 28801) makes food-inspired beers, or beers with edible ingredients, and, while many of them sounded interesting, I didn’t love any of the beers I drank there (they were mostly just odd or possibly a combination of what was ill-conceived or just badly delivered), though other reviews have been more positive.

The World’s Best Beer Cities Photo Gallery

On the edges of town you’ve got the recent transplants of Sierra Nevada, Oskar Blues, and New Belgium (please search for their addresses online—I’m bored adding them and you all know how to Google)—all have built impeccable, inimitable sites with huge tasting rooms and are wonderful environments in which to sit and drink beer. Opposite New Belgium is Wedge Brewing Co. (37 Paynes Way, Asheville, North Carolina 28801) in a shared creative space. Highland Brewing (12 Old Charlotte Highway, Asheville, North Carolina 28803) was the first in town and their British-style brews are nice. If you want to go to the original pub in town, then it’s Barley’s (42 Biltmore Avenue, Asheville, North Carolina 28801), which is just up the street from Wicked Weed’s pub. There’s 20-plus mostly local taps in this old-school pub, which also serves pizzas. If you want bottles to take home, then go to Bruisin’ Ales (66 Broadway, Asheville, North Carolina 28801)—it’s a world-class beer store. And I’ve probably missed a bunch of places from this list; there’s that much good beer in Asheville.

I spent three days in Asheville and still didn’t get to all the places I wanted to visit. I’d happily go back any time. It was the kind of place that got me excited about beers and breweries again, primarily for the way you can visit so many superb locations, all within the space of a few blocks, and also for just how big and professional those breweries are. Asheville stayed with me long after I left and it’s the place I’ve recalled most fondly to people asking me about my recent beer travels. I loved it in Asheville.

Local street art welcomes you to one of the world’s greatest beer cities.

Which is the Best American Beer City?

You always see the same dozen or so names on the “Beer City USA” lists. The Portlands, San Diego and San Francisco, New York, Denver, Chicago, and Seattle, plus small cities such as Burlington, Asheville, Boulder, Bend, Grand Rapids, and Minneapolis. But which one deserves the title of “Best Beer City?”

I’ve been to all of them, except for Seattle and Minneapolis (those places are next on my list!), and all are brilliant in their own way. Personally, I always prefer the smaller cities, the places where it’s easy to walk around, and where there’s a close-knit culture. For its mix of high-quality breweries, excellent drinking spaces, and general beer vibe, I think Asheville is the must-visit beer destination in the US. The closest big-city contender is San Diego, but it doesn’t win on account of being so big and because everything is so far away-you need to hire a lot of cabs to get around and visit everywhere.

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