The World's Best Cities for Beer
We sipped suds around the globe to find the best cities for drinking beer (it's a tough job, but somebody had to do it). Here are the world's top destinations for indulging in ale, lager, stout, pilsner, and more.
Pictured above: beers at the Hofbräuhaus in Munich
Drinking beer is a way of life in the hometown of Guinness, which may not be Ireland's top export but surely ranks among the country's most beloved products. In fact, no beer pilgrimage would be complete without a stop at the Guinness Storehouse. Tours end with a free pint in the rooftop Gravity Bar. Throughout Dublin, local brews are served at hundreds of inviting pubs, including classics like the Stag's Head, Doheny & Nesbitt, and the Long Hall (pictured above).
The beer in Tokyo isn't necessarily cheap (nothing is here), but at least it's easy to find—you can even buy cans from vending machines on the street. The selection available at pubs reflects the vibrant Japanese craft beer scene known as ji-biiru. An essential stop is Popeye, with its dozens of beers on tap, including many hard-to-find local brews.
A river of beer is consumed each year in Munich, and not just during the famed Oktoberfest celebration (usually held from late September to early October). Indulge in a Munich Helles pale lager at brew-centric icons such as the 16th-century Hofbräuhaus beer hall and the 11th-century Weihenstephan brewery in nearby Freising. Munich's many traditional beer gardens are ideal drinking spots in the summer. In the English Garden, the Chinese Tower Beer Garden often features live bands playing traditional Bavarian music.
The West Coast's Portland has long been a beer haven—thanks in part to locally grown hops and barley that keep your microbrew tasting fresh and natural—but the city's identically named counterpart on the other side of the country has definitely gained ground, claming these days to have one of the highest numbers of breweries per capita in the U.S. Whether in Oregon or Maine, you have no shortage of breweries, taverns, and festivals to choose from. To hit up a bunch of spots in one day, opt for guided experiences such as City Brew Tours Portland in Oregon or Maine Brews Cruise in New England.
The best beers in Vienna come from boutique microbreweries. Pop into 1516 for home-brewed creations, 7Stern Bräu (pictured above) for seasonal Viennese varieties, the 17th-century Gösser Bierklinik for Bräu Union beers, and Bermuda Bräu for a range of traditional local drafts.
Vietnam's capital has some of the cheapest beer in Asia—one reason why tourists flock to the shoulder-to-shoulder bars lining Ta Hien Street in the city's Old Quarter. Don't miss out on a glass or two of bia hoi, or "fresh beer," a light-bodied draft pilsner that's brewed and delivered daily to drinking establishments throughout Hanoi.
The Czech Republic often lands near the top of rankings of places with the cheapest beer and the highest rates of consumption. In Prague, you have your choice of dozens of historic beer halls and swanky bars. For the traditional experience, go for U Fleku (pictured above), Bredovsky Dvur, and U Vejvodu.
There seems to be a pub on every major street corner in Melbourne. As always in Australia, it helps to know the terminology: Buying a round of drinks, for instance, is "shouting," and "light" actually means low-alcohol, not low-calorie. Good spots to throw back a Carlton Draught or craft brew include Beer DeLuxe and the Crafty Squire, a pub and microbrewery (where James Squire beer, pictured above, is made).
The Netherlands gave the world Amstel, Heineken, Grolsch, and many other renowned labels, so it stands to reason that the Dutch capital is also a beer capital. Visit Proeflokaal Arendsnest to try more than 100 beers from exclusively Dutch breweries, or tour IJ Brewery (pictured above) to sample the goods made onsite in the shadow of a traditional windmill.
A trip to Mexico City will introduce your lucky taste buds to the country's many varieties of beer beyond the exports that have become household names north of the border. Regional offerings and old standbys including Indio, Victoria, and Superior are crisp and perfect to enjoy under the Mexican sun. The sprawling city's cantinas and bars carry a wide selection.
Locals often boast that Edinburgh has the highest concentration of pubs in Europe. Who are we to argue? The Scots have been brewing hops for thousands of years, and the tradition continues today. Head to the historic Oxford Bar for a selection of locally brewed ales or get cozy at the Cumberland Bar, known for its huge range of cask-conditioned ales and old-school atmosphere.
Once the base for four of the world's largest breweries (Schlitz, Pabst, Miller, and Blatz), Milwaukee may not be the beer behemoth it was in the past (though the Miller brewery, pictured above, is still hanging in there). Nevertheless, the many smaller breweries that have sprung up in recent decades give you plenty of places to wet your whistle. The riverside Milwaukee Ale House and the Sugar Maple (known for its selection of 60-plus U.S. craft beers) are worthy upholders of the city's sudsy legacy, and the annual World of Beer Festival helps attendees find new additions to that historic roster.
This artsy town in western North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains is one of the smallest cities on our list, and its craft beer scene is one of the newest, having only gotten going in earnest in the 1990s. But Asheville stands out anyway due to bold experimenters such as Burial Beer and Wicked Weed, best known for a "Funkatorium" dedicated to sour beers. Make a pilgrimage to Highland Brewing Company to visit the craft brewery that started the boom.