Wine is fine, but if you want a taste of America grab a cold beer. Historically, it’s the beverage of choice for most Americans and is still at the top of the list for drinkers age 49 and younger. Whether sitting on your deck after a long day of work or barbecuing with family, beer goes best with good friends and relaxation. Few traditions are as timeless as sharing that first beer with Dad when we finally reach drinking age. It’s a classic coming-of-age ritual.

Certain cities embody the unique, laid-back philosophy of beer culture better than others. Like Napa attracts wine bars, these places have more breweries, more tap rooms and more places to enjoy a cold one. If you’re looking to travel to a place where the beer flows like wine, here are the cities pouring the best of nature’s sweet nectar.

San Diego, California

Stone Brewery

A beer lover’s mecca, this city has so many breweries you could visit one every Saturday and still not see them all within a calendar year. But fear not, organized tours include buses that provide transportation to three or four breweries in a single day. The brewery that many citizens consider one of their best, Stone Brewing, offers public as well as private tours, so you can celebrate life with only those you know if you so choose.

San Diego also offers their craft selections at the Padres games, and many bars have rooftop patios, allowing you to soak up the sun while you soak up a pint of one of their best. Stone Brewery’s beer garden will make you think you’re in heaven. Other well-known brewing companies include Ballast Point and Green Flash.

Photo courtesy Stone Brewing Co.

Portland, Oregon

Deschutes Brewery

This city gives you plenty of opportunity to sample the local brews. From downing a pint or two at one of the many bars that offer craft beer, to sharing a six-pack while camping along the banks of the Columbia River, it’s always time to have a good time.

Nationally and internationally known and recognized, Deschutes Brewery is located in Bend, but has a brewpub in the heart of the Pearl District in Portland. It serves up a most eclectic selection of suds, and offers great fare to fill up your appetite. A sweet IPA only enhances Portland’s beautiful scenery, and it makes sense that it is known as “Rose City.” Other well known brewing companies include Columbia River and Occidental.

Photo courtesy Brewpublic

Seattle, Washington

Pike Brewing Company

The Emerald City is not all about Seahawks and Mariners. In fact, one of its more popular breweries, Pike’s Brewing Company, would offer the notion that craft beer is also at the top of its game in Seattle. Taking up residence across from the Art Museum, Pike’s offers many variations on beers seasoned and brewed in different fashions.

Surrounded by gorgeous natural landscape along the Puget Sound, there are many ways to be active and incorporate the beauty of the city into any drinking festivities. Other popular breweries include Bellevue Brewing and Pyramid Breweries.

Photo courtesy Cliff1066

Denver, Colorado

Great Divide Yeti

The picturesque Rocky Mountains at its doorstep and a bustling nightlife downtown make Denver the perfect city for craft beer. They are the hosts of the Great American Beer Festival each year, and they have the single largest brewery – Coors – located just a short drive on I-70 away. The evidence is overwhelming of the passion they have for quality brew.

Located mere blocks from Coors Field, Great Divide Brewing Company has a diverse selection of seasonal and year-round concoctions that any hophead would adore. Whether tailgating before a Broncos game or just enjoying a sunny summer Saturday with friends and family, the Mile High City is the best in the mountains for craft beer. Other popular breweries include Epic and Wit’s End.

Photo courtesy Great Divide Brewing

Chicago, Illinois

Goose Island Brewing

You may think that city living means having to sacrifice the ability to enjoy a craft beer. You could think that, but you’d be wrong. Sweet Home Chicago has a lot to offer when it comes to the craft beer scene; namely Goose Island Brewing Company. So named because the brewery is literally on an island just a few miles from downtown, Goose has rapidly expanded its lineup and has an eclectic mix from which to choose.

On top of all that, the Windy City has many diverse neighborhoods, each feel like a city within a city. The Friendly Confines are always closer than you think, and offer the perfect venue to sit with the sun on your shoulders and experience the finest crafts Chi-town has to offer. Other popular breweries include Lake Effect and Revolution.

Photo courtesy Mike

Boston, Massachusetts

Harpoon Brewery

Yes, we all know Sam Adams. But Boston has much more going on in the craft beer scene than that certain Founding Father. Located on the shores of South Boston, with an excellent view of the downtown skyline, Harpoon Brewery has cemented itself as a staple of craft beer in Boston for almost 30 years. From ciders to stouts and everything in between, they have an eclectic mix of different styles, with more than a dozen unique flavors and tastes.

Beantown offers many different ways and places to enjoy a pint, as well as a plethora of tourist attractions: Fenway Park, Yawkey Way, the State House, the Theater District, Boston Common; shall we go on? Culture and passion, especially on the sports front, pours forth from this historic city. Other popular breweries include Trillium Brewing and Bad Martha Brewing.

Photo courtesy Harpoon Brewery
Hero image courtesy Bernasconi Bits

Expand Your Horizons

There are always many different things to do when you go to a new city. Trying the local craft brew concoctions is certainly one of them, as they always embody that city’s personality. Bottom line, these cities don’t just offer beer, they offer unique and exciting ways to enjoy that cold brew.

Thinking about a craft beer vacation with Dad as a present for Father’s Day? Give him a beer-related gift to announce the vacation in style.