When planning a beer vacation, common advice will point you in the direction of hop tours in Washington’s Yakima Valley or international excursions to Munich’s Oktoberfest, which has inspired an entire style of beer. However, with tens of thousands of breweries in the world — many of which continue to push the boundaries of the definition of craft beer — the sheer number of global beer experiences opens the door for endless suds-soaked travel.
With so many options to consider, we tasked ourselves with finding the most promising beer destinations worth planning a vacation around. From up-and-coming craft hotspots to cities whose love of beer runs so deep they even have nano-breweries operating out of a news publication office, here are our top 10 destinations for beer travel in 2023.
10. Lake Tahoe, Calif./Nev.
Renowned for its breathtaking landscapes and outdoor activities, Lake Tahoe also houses a number of craft breweries on both sides of the state line. This means that after you’ve taken off your skis or unlaced your hiking boots — or before, we don’t judge — beer and places to enjoy it are never too far away.
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Undeniably the most popular is South Lake Brewing Co., which has two locations open to the public: the brewery and The Libation Lodge, which opened in 2022. At both locations, guests can choose from South Lake’s range of pale ales, IPAs, red and brown ales, and stouts.
A 25-minute drive away from the relative hustle and bustle of Stateline lies one of two Lake Tahoe AleWorkX locations, complete with a self-pour beer wall and an additional selection of wine, hard kombucha, and nitro coffee. For those who prefer things a bit more lively, the brewery’s second location at the state line hosts silent discos and DJ sets.
While in Tahoe, don’t miss an opportunity to visit Tahoe Mountain Brews, a converted snowboarder flop house that was initially purchased by Taylor Flynn to function as the office space for his monthly publication, Tahoe Mountain News. Intending to increase publication to several times per month, Flynn’s plans were halted by the advent of the internet. So he chose instead to use the office’s extra space for a tiny nano-brewery. The small space can host only 14 people, so the brewery specializes in high-intensity, high-alcohol beers, of which there are five on tap.
As the nation’s original capital, it’s no surprise that beer is tightly intertwined with the history of Philadelphia. In fact, in the 1800s, the city was known as the most accomplished brewing city outside of Europe. Today, over 130 craft breweries serve dozens of beers in a number of styles across the Philadelphia metro area.
When visiting the City of Brotherly Love, set aside some time for the aptly named Love City Brewing, and sample one of the brewery’s dozen beers on draft. If you can’t make it into the taproom, Love City’s brews are poured across the city (we favor a Love City Lager). Another must-visit is Philly’s new Other Half Brewing location. Opened in 2022, the Fishtown outpost of the beloved Brooklyn brewery serves up a number of the flagship’s staple beers in addition to occasional guest takeovers from other local breweries. For those who love beer and wine equally, Carbon Copy is the city’s first combined brewery and winery and just opened in December 2022. Operating out of a West Philadelphia renovated firehouse, Carbon Copy has 18 taplines devoted to beer, wine, and craft cocktails.
To check out a number of craft beers from a hearty number of producers, Monk’s Cafe has 25 beers on draft sourced from all over the world. The selection at Monk’s even includes three brews from Russian River Brewing, including Pliny the Elder. Additionally, Philly Beer Week will take place from June 3 to June 12 this year, and is set to feature Victory Brewing Company, Sly Fox Brewing Company, and Yards, three of the region’s largest producers.
8. Melbourne, Australia
Similar to a number of cities on this list, Melbourne has been undergoing a craft revolution over the last few decades and the city is now home to a bustling beer scene. After a lengthy 16-hour flight from L.A. or San Francisco — or 11 hours from Honolulu — schedule a tour at Fixation Brewing Company to learn about the history of beer before trying a flight of your choosing. If your travel companions have less experience drinking beer, Stomping Ground Brewing Co.‘s beer halls in Collingwood and Morris Moor — plus one in Melbourne’s Airport — feature a 25-tap-strong menu, split into subsections with the goal of offering a beer for everyone.
To catch a bit of the Melbourne sun and try wacky yet intriguing brews, Moon Dog Craft Brewing is a must-visit. With three distinct beer experiences, beer lovers can enjoy a 72-tap bar and water park at Moon Dog World, a selection of beer and a pizza food truck at Moon Dog OG, and a “palm tree oasis” featuring a number of beers, seltzers, and cocktails at Summer Paradiso. Though no longer independently owned, Mountain Goat Beer holds a place in history as one of the few early success stories of an Australian independent brewery in the face of mass-producing giants in the country.
7. Bend, Ore.
With the majority of U.S. hop production taking place in Washington, Idaho, and Oregon, it’s no surprise that the region produces some of the country’s best brews — especially during fresh hops season. Nestled in the sprawling hills of Oregon’s Cascade Mountains is Bend, a small town with marvelous scenery, opportunities for adventure, and, of course, craft beer. Home to the most breweries per capita in Oregon, with 16 per 50,000 people, beers produced in Bend account for one-third of all Oregon beer consumed in the state, most of which can be checked out on the Bend Ale Trail.
Launched in 2020, it is the largest beer trail on the West Coast and provides all who participate with the opportunity to not only visit each of the 30 breweries in Bend and the surrounding region, but to track the journey and receive prizes for finishing each territory. Broken into seven territories, trekkers simply have to show proof via stamp that they visited each location in their passport or on the app before visiting the Visitor Center in town to claim their prizes. Other beer tours throughout the region include the Bend Brew Bus, which is available via reservation to transport drinkers to a number of breweries and distilleries, and The Bend Trolley.
Whether you choose to explore via tour or solo, don’t miss a visit to Deschutes Brewery, Bend’s first brewery. Be sure to also check out Bend Brewing Company and take advantage of the brewery’s expansive outdoor lawn while listening to some live music. Those in the market for something more experimental should visit The Ale Apothecary. Bend’s only sour brewery, it’s located in a scenic forest and serves barrel-aged beers produced using locally sourced ingredients.
6. Gothenburg, Sweden
While beer has historically been a central part of Gothenburg’s economy, it wasn’t until 2005 that craft production really became something to pay attention to in the city. Prior to the early 2000s, the Swedish government had a monopoly on alcohol called the Systembolaget, which imposed limits on the alcohol content of beers and other types of alcohol, making it nearly impossible to import beers for sale in the country, and incredibly difficult for brewers to produce full-flavored beers associated with the craft movement. However, once Sweden joined the European Union, Systembolaget dissolved and craft brewing took off. Today, the country is home to over 300 breweries — over 10 times more than there were in ‘05 — and over 40 can be found in Gothenburg.
No visit to the city is complete without a trip to Dugges, one of the city’s first craft breweries, which runs a tasting room in Landvetter, a 15-minute drive away from the city’s center. Spike Brewery is another early pioneer, having opened the first taproom in Gothenburg in 2015. Open on Fridays and Saturdays only, customers can choose from over 50 offerings while listening to records on vinyl soaking up the cozy, home-like atmosphere. During summer visits, grab a spot outside to catch a live performance from local Gothenburg musicians and DJs.
Chicago has long been a must-visit destination for craft beer lovers with once-independent stalwarts like Lagunitas and Goose Island calling the city home. Outside of brewing giants, the Chicago metropolitan area is home to over 160 breweries.
Visitors to the Windy City can explore the major beer sites via a number of organized tours, including History on Tap, a walking tour through the city’s best beer neighborhoods like the West Loop, Logan Circle, and Ravenswood. For beer nerds who are also suckers for true crime, the Sin & Suds Beer Tour takes attendees throughout the Loop and interweaves Al Capone’s and beer’s influence on crime in the city. If you’re looking for beer without the exercise, try out one of the city’s craft brew cruises, including the Chicagoland Brews Cruise, or the Barrel Run bus tour. While in the area, keep your eyes peeled for Chicago favorites like Half Acre Beer Co.’s Daisy Cutter and brews from Revolution Brewing, which have become relatively ubiquitous across the city.
They say the summer is what makes Chicago’s long and often brutal winters worth it, and this summer the city has something special planned for those who stuck it out: the opening of the Guinness Open Gate Brewery in the West Loop. Though a set opening date has not yet been announced, the brewery will feature decorative elements inspired by Chicago’s neighborhoods, collaborations with the city, and references to the local beer scene to differentiate from the original Dublin location.
4. Mexico City
Mexico City has recently solidified itself as a must-visit city for cocktail lovers, and though the beer industry is often overshadowed by giants like Cervecería Modelo and Cervecería Cuauthémoc-Moctezuma, which own the likes of Corona, Tecate, Modelo, and Pacifico, demand for craft beer is on the rise. In October 2022, ACERMEX — Mexico’s brewers association — announced that the country’s craft production would increase 11 percent over the next year, reaching a total of 34 million liters. While craft brewing has yet to reach the same heights as it has in the United States and Europe, Mexico City is leading the push to put the country on beer lovers’ radars.
While in town, be on the lookout for brews from Cervecería Cosaco. Founded in 2000, the brewery is thought to be the first craft operation in CDMX and today still offers three beers on draft — named White Girl, Red, and Black — as well as seven bottles under their Ponderosa collection. Don’t forget to stop into the Morenos Tasting Room to try out beers brewed by brothers Ernesto and Rodrigo of Casa Cervecera Morenos, which has become a big player in the city’s craft scene. Other breweries of note include Escollo, Cervecería Paracaidista, and hidden garage brewery and restaurant Crisanta.
3. Bern, Switzerland
While the phrase “European beer destinations” typically conjures images of cities like Prague, Amsterdam, and Munich, tucked away in the rolling landscape of the Swiss Alps is Bern, a haven for craft beer enthusiasts that should definitely be on the radar of passport-carrying drinkers. The craft brewing industry in Switzerland is 40 times larger now than it was just 30 years ago. Today, the country is home to over 1,200 craft breweries — the highest density of breweries per capita in the world — with over 200 of them calling Bern home, earning the city the unofficial title of craft brewing capital of Switzerland.
Travelers looking to experience the Bern beer scene can order a voucher online that provides a map for a walking tour between breweries and pubs with an audio accompaniment. If walking tours aren’t for you, stop in at Felsenau Brewery. Founded in 1881, it is the oldest brewery in Bern, and currently operated by the family’s fifth generation. Felsenau is also famous for producing Bärner Müntschi — which translates to “kiss from Bern” — the most popular Bernese beer in Switzerland. Visitors can follow 45-minute tours of the brewery where they can sneak a peek at the brewing process as well as participate in a guided tasting. For one of the freshest beers in Bern, make time to visit Altes Tramdepot, a traditional beer hall with over 30 pours to choose from, all of which are changed yearly and brewed four to six times per week on site.
If you plan your visit around August, be sure to attend the ZAPF! Craft Beer Festival on the 26th. With beers from over 20 breweries set to be featured, it may be a smaller beer fest, but it’s certainly worth your while.
2. Barcelona, Spain
Though Spain may be more acclaimed for its wines, and the things the nation does with this wine — hello, sangria — the country’s beer scene is not to be overlooked. As the world’s second-largest beer consumer per capita behind only the Czech Republic, the Spanish undeniably love their brews. Largely fueling Spain’s thirst is the region of Catalonia, home to over 100 craft breweries, a number of which are, unsurprisingly, located in the region’s capital city: Barcelona.
If you’re tired of drinking Estrella while gallivanting the streets of the beautiful city, pop into BierCaB, a beer bar located in L’Eixample that’s regarded as one of the world’s best. Visitors can choose from a selection of 30 draft pours that span from local Catalonian and Spanish brews to imports from Germany, France, Switzerland, the U.K., Sweden, and Estonia. Pop into CocoVail Beer Hall for a more traditional long-table drinking experience.
On the brewery front, schedule some time to visit BlackLab Brewhouse, a family business featuring four staple, year-round beers in addition to 16 experimental and seasonal brews, and two guest taps. One-hour tours are also available for 27 euros and include a tasting of four beers plus one pint of the visitor’s choosing. If a trip to any of the tasting rooms can’t be squeezed into the itinerary, look out for local brews around Barcelona bars and restaurants, including brews from Tibidabo Brewing, which uses all locally sourced ingredients to handcraft each beer.
Planning to visit in May? Be sure to reserve a ticket to the Barcelona Beer Festival at Montjuïc. Held from May 16–28, tickets can be purchased online and access to the festival grants attendees the ability to sample over 400 beers as well as visit a 50-tap bar and view culinary expos in live cooking spaces.
Just over a decade ago, tracking down quality craft beer in Singapore would have been a challenge to say the least, but in a short amount of time the city has transformed into a craft-brewing hub with an ever-increasing number of microbreweries, beer bars, and even beer festivals.
In between checking out the city’s mesmerizing gardens, parks, and architecture, check out Little Island Brewing Co., one of Singapore’s largest craft breweries. Visitors can choose from 32 beers — 12 of which flow from self-pour taps. The brewery’s food menu features everything from classic bar staples, to fresh fish, and even a 15-hour smoked Wagyu beef brisket. Also worth visiting in Singapore is The Guild, a craft brewery and restaurant started by the team behind Young Master, Hong Kong’s leading craft brewery. Expect to find a selection of craft beer on draft and an impressive menu of drinks pairings. For brews with a view, head to LeVel33, “the world’s highest urban microbrewery.” Located on the 33rd floor of the Marina Bay Financial Centre Building, LeVel33 dishes out five of its craft beers on draft, all of which were produced over 300 feet in the air.
This summer, Singapore will also host Beerfest Asia, the region’s largest beer festival featuring over 600 beers. Held from June 22 to June 25, the event will be held in Singapore’s Kallang Carpark 4, which will be transformed to accommodate not only all the beer producers, but over 30 musical acts and a number of food vendors. As the first BeerFest Asia event to happen since the beginning of the pandemic, it’s likely to be a great success, especially if the recent Urban Beer Festival is any indication. More than 70 percent of the attendees at the March festival were reportedly first-timers, and Beer Asia founder Oliver Woods described it as “highlighting a cautious optimism in [Singapore’s] brewing industry.” With adoration for craft beer ever growing in the city, Singapore has certainly shown that it’s deserving of a place on every beer-lover’s list.