Beer lovers with a penchant for travel already know about Belgium, both Portlands (Oregon and Maine), and Colorado. Many have Munich, and its famed Oktoberfest, on their bucket lists. But with 7,000 breweries and counting in the U.S., and more breweries in Europe and Asia increasingly inspired to supplement their own traditions with American craft brewing innovations, there are plenty of less obvious destinations calling for your next beercation.
In 2019, as in past years, VinePair challenged ourselves to look beyond the usual suspects and seek out beer cities beyond the proverbial beaten path. Adding to their appeal are a series of new nonstop flights, just-opened restaurants, and once-in-a-lifetime cultural attractions.
From the City of Light, to the City of Angels, to the Kodak City, here are our top 10 destinations for beer travel in 2019.
10. Paris, France
You’ve heard of its light, love, and haute couture. You may be less familiar, however, with Paris’s emerging beer scene. Beer lovers can sniff out locally brewed pints at world-class taprooms like La Fine Mousse, featuring French beers, affordable Cantillon and Drie Fonteinen, and a restaurant and bottle shop across the street. Brewberry provides session IPAs, frites in Chimay cheese, and a respite from Sacre Coeur crowds. Hoppy Corner, near a series of restaurants, bars, and patisseries in the 2nd arrondissement, offers a mix of French, Belgian, and American craft beers. It’s also metal-head-friendly.
Be on the lookout for local beers like Gallia Paris’s East Coast IPA, a fresh, French take on the NEIPA; or Brasserie BAPBAP’s Acid Eiffel, a gose-style sour ale inspired by the architectural landmark.
Additional cultural draws in 2019 include the debut of the Pinault Collection at the Pantheon-inspired Bourse de Commerce, designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando; and the spring 2019 debut of Italian boutique hotel J.K. Place on the Left Bank.
9. Seattle, Wash.
More than 360 bars and restaurants opened in Seattle in 2018. Among the city’s anticipated was Future Primitive Brewing, a small brewery specializing in sessionable “little beers,” as the brewery calls them, which officially opened to the public in Seattle’s White Center neighborhood on Dec. 21.
Seattle’s 60 breweries and counting also include cult favorites like Reuben’s Brews, Holy Mountain, and Cloudburst, along with long-established classics like Pike.
8. Tokyo, Japan
Beer may not be the main reason most head to Tokyo, but those who don’t take the time to acknowledge the craft beer scene here are missing out. Well-known, multi-location brewpubs like Kiuchi Brewery, which began brewing beer in 1996, and expat-led Baird Beer, launched in 2000, are now joined by a flush of more recently opened beer destinations. In Shibuya, Watering Hole, opened in 2012, serves a mix of Japanese craft beers (Onidensetsu, Minoh) and American favorites like Upslope and Burley Oak. Øl, a Scandinavian-Japanese craft beer bar established in partnership with Norway’s Oslo Brewing in 2016, serves everything from Oslo’s own beers to Kyoto Brewing saison to the odd Ballast Point lager, and even house-made ginger ale.
Goodbeer Faucets, centrally located in the heart of Shibuya since 2011, offers 40 craft beers on tap in a modern, spacious interior. Internationally inspired snacks such as Wagyu steak and fries, pulled pork served with a sliced baguette, and a current seasonal speciality, “Jerusalem Mix,” Israeli spiced chicken parts with seasoning, are mouthwatering; and general manager Eldaad “Dede” Bribrom, an Israeli transplant, has an enthusiastic demeanor that’s solidified the bar as both Tokyo craft-beer staple and tourist-friendly respite.
Mikkeller Tokyo, which moved to its current location in 2017 (it originally opened in 2015 in what is now Øl), draws in Japanese and foreign beer geeks alike.
7. Rochester, N.Y.
In December 2018, Brooklyn’s Other Half Brewing had its first can release at Other Half Roc, its new location in Rochester, a city more than 300 miles from NYC by car. The locally lauded release followed several mobile can releases throughout the state.
Its decision to settle down in Rock City was a no brainer: Since 2013, Rochester’s Monroe County has jumped from three to more than 25 breweries. Clearly, this city is thirsty for craft beer.
Fifth Frame Brewing is a brewery, coffee roaster, and restaurant with board games. Three Heads Brewing comprises a brewery, beer garden, and music venue; and Swiftwater is a farmhouse brewery making traditional styles with local ingredients.
While in the Roc, make a stop at Genesee to try New York’s famous Cream Ale, along with other Genesee brews sold exclusively at the brewery.
6. Raleigh, N.C.
Raleigh is having a moment. The population of Wake County, which includes Raleigh, is increasing by an average of 63 people per day, and, as it turns out, many of them have a taste for craft beer.
Taste the revolution at Brewery Bhavana, a combination brewery, taproom, dim sum restaurant, library, and flower shop; and at Trophy Brewing, which has three distinct locations in downtown Raleigh (one for beer, one for beer and pizza, and one for beer and fancier fare). The barrel-aged sours at Bond Brothers, in Cary, earned it USA Today’s Best New Brewery distinction in 2017. Ancillary Fermentation, a conceptual pop-up taproom, will make its next appearance in January. Also in 2019, Gizmo Brew Works will open a second taproom in Chapel Hill, taking over the iconic Rathskeller space, a bar and restaurant in operation from 1948 to 2007.
And in the suburban town of Wake Forest, White Street Brewing produces award-winning traditional German- and Belgian-style ales, including its Kolsch, one of VinePair’s best beers of 2018.
5. Los Angeles, Calif.
Once awkwardly subpar in comparison to other West Coast beer scenes, L.A. is finally beer-friendly — whether you’re in Culver City or Long Beach (the latter gained a new place to eat or drink every week in 2018).
Monkish Brewing in Torrance commands a cult following for its hazy IPAs and oak-aged saisons. Long Beach’s Beachwood Blendery is a VinePair favorite for its gueuze- and lambic-inspired sour ales, and Three Weavers brings community and accessible craft beers, like its crisp Seafarer Kolsch and easy-drinking Stateside Session IPA, to Inglewood.
More cities will get direct flights to the City of Angels in 2019, too. United kicks off new non-stop service between Los Angeles and Eugene, Ore., Madison, Wisc., and Pasco, Wash., this spring, so start planning.
4. Atlanta, Ga.
Georgia’s capital is home to some of our favorite breweries. Monday Night Brewing, our top pick for the Southeast in 2018, has locations near Atlantic Station and Pittsburgh; Reformation Brewing is favored for its roasty dark brews (we’re partial to its oatmeal stout); and Creature Comforts of Athens brews something for everyone, from pillowy pilsners, to tropical IPAs, to oak-aged limited releases, many of which are not available outside the state or region. The buzzy Variant Brewing is inspiring long lines for its double IPAs, adjunct stouts, and tart farmhouse ales.
Atlanta welcomed several new restaurants this year, too, such as a new location of the Local Pizzaiolo, serving up expertly crafted pizzas alongside a small selection of craft beers like Creature Comforts’ Tropicalia.
Meanwhile, Atlanta is gearing up for Super Bowl LIII kicking off Feb. 3, with 100 bars, restaurants, and venues secured for Super Bowl-related events.
3. New Orleans, La.
A beer lover’s trip to the Crescent City five years ago would have likely included an hour-long trek from the French Quarter to NOLA Brewing, located in the Irish Channel, or as its tagline proudly states, “in a warehouse on the lake side of a street tourists can’t pronounce” (Tchoupitoulas Street). Or, one might have endured an hour-long drive to Abita across Lake Pontchartrain. Now, recent openings citywide are making a Big Easy beercation easier than ever.
“Non-distro” breweries, or those that don’t distribute their beer outside their own taprooms, are keys here. Wash down your beignets and pralines at Brieux Carré, a Marigny brewery offering everything from grisettes to restrained NEIPAs. Head to a trivia night at Parleaux Beer Lab, a small batch brewery in Bywater with styles spanning the sessional to the experimental. Miel Brewery, also in the Irish Channel, is fast becoming a feel-good neighborhood staple, open seven days a week.
Budget travelers, rejoice: Spirit Airlines announced new routes to New Orleans late last year, adding nonstop flights between New Orleans and Austin; and nonstop seasonal service between New Orleans and Philadelphia.
2. Berlin, Germany
Germany’s capital is celebrating two anniversaries this year: 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, and 100 Years of Bauhaus, the architectural movement celebrated in a series of events throughout the year, starting with a festival in January.
Whenever you go, stop at Markthalle Neun, an urban food market touting the hipster trifecta of coffee, farm-fresh, responsibly raised food, and a craft brewery, Heidenpeters, in its northwest corner. In hip Kreuzberg’s Wrangelkiez neighborhood, Hopfenreich offers local beers from Spent Collective, Berliner Berg, Bierfabrik, and Stone Berlin. And Brlo Brwhouse, a brewery and taproom located in a shipping container complex in the new, cool Gleisdreieck Park between Kreuzberg and Schöneberg, offers tours along with 20 taps spanning house-brewed Helles and German IPAs, plus local, national, and international selections.
If you’re heading to Berlin in the summer, kick off your visit during Berlin Beer Week, a 10-day, multi-venue beer experience July 19 to 28. The Berlin Beer Cruise on July 19 is a perfect prospect — tickets start at €69 (about $79) and are going fast! — and, if you need an extra boost, check out American Airlines’ new seasonal service from Philadelphia to Berlin-Tegel Airport.
1. Austin, Tex.
There are now more craft breweries in Austin than any other city in Texas. The city is home to some of the country’s best lager brewers, like Live Oak, whose Grodziskie was a VinePair panel favorite for 2018; Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co., which took home two gold medals at the 2018 Great American Beer Festival (GABF); and Austin Beerworks, which won a GABF bronze for its light lager last year.
Austin’s beer-and-food-pairing game is equally impressive, spanning esoteric newcomers like The Brewer’s Table, an upscale brewpub aspiring to an all-Cicerone staff, to Batch Craft Beer and Kolaches, which pairs south Texas’s beloved “Czexan” pastries with local brews.
In January, Austin will host the biannual Pink Boots Society Conference, bringing thousands of women industry members to the city.