Top 5 Craft Beer Cities in North America

by Daniel Nikulin

So much beer – so little time. That’s why we’ve compiled our favourite craft beer cities across North America, from sea to shining sea. Patio season is here, folks. Bottoms up! 

Editor’s Note: this article was originally published in May, 2016, and has been updated to include the most up-to-date information.  

Portland, OR

The hipster-heavy jewel of the Pacific Northwest has long been known for their infatuation with ultra-hoppy IPAs but beer makers here have evolved to brew just about everything nowadays and are pairing it with trendy farm-to-table dishes wherever possible. Portland has become as synonymous with great craft beer as its self-professed ‘weirdness’.


With over 65 craft beer institutions, it’s hard to pick a favourite, but if we had to, Breakside Brewery is a must, for its Salted Caramel Stout, summery Passionfruit Sour and multiple locations throughout the city.

The most compelling however, is Ex Novo. Donating 100% of its profit to charity, the creative pubhouse owners encourage patrons to ‘Drink Beer. Do Good’, as they do. Offering unique beers made right, there may not be a brewpub that leaves you feeling better about yourself than Ex Novo.

To experience a handful of breweries in a short amount of time, consider a Pedal Bike Brewery tour, and opt for the helmet.


Denver, CO

It’s almost hop harvest time and the folks down in Colorado are gearing up for a boon. They better, as Denver alone now has over 150 microbreweries and is showing no signs of slowing down.


With beers like the Mexican Chocolate Stout, Farmhouse Red Ale, Graham Cracker Porter and the Mile HiPA, adventurous brewers are taking tasty chances while the world pulls up a stool. Our fave? Strange Craft Beer Company, for their Gluten-Free Lemon Pale (and for their obvious shout-out to Bob & Doug McKenzie, eh).

If you’re looking for a more well-rounded beer experience, head for the mountains and New Terrain Brewing. Located in the picturesque Denver suburb of Golden, there’s more than just beer happening here. Stretch it out with some sunset yoga, tap along to weekly live music and after a few pints, hit the food trucks for a perfect, all-encompassing day.


San Diego, CA

With a bevy of options, San Diego’s best beer changes as often as its surf reports.


At over 75 brewers strong, it seems like a new one pops up monthly. With Belgian style ales, silky curried stouts and their signature fresh IPAs, you’ll never be short on what to pair your fish tacos with. Our pick: Karl Strauss – the original. Try the Peanut Butter Cup Porter there, and the 29th Anniversary Saison in bottles, to go.

After a good dose of SoCal sun, whether you’re in Ocean Beach, Miramar or North Park, a visit to Mike Hess Brewing is also required. Here, Vienna Cream Ales, Orange Honey Wheat and Weisse Berliners rule, but you can’t leave without sampling their 2016 World Beer Cup-winning Kolsch.


New York City, NY

For a city used to starting trends, New York sure jumped all over this one.


Sure there’s Jimmy’s No.43, which crafted beer before there was a term for it, but most of what you’ll find in NYC are great beer bars that offer amazing options from labels both nation and world-wide. For variety, check out Rattle ‘N’ Hum and their 40 taps (on both the East and West side).  

For the best local stuff however, it’s hard to top Brooklyn Brewery, in Williamsburg. They may be best known for the world-wide success of their Brooklyn Lager but what you’ll leave talking about will be the Sorachi Ace Saison. You’re welcome.


Montreal, QC

Famous for its gastronomy, it comes as no surprise that Montreal can pour you a good one.


Bathe in a virtual beer bonanza, ranging from buxom Raspberry Blondes to sassy Scotch and Cream Ales. Pair them with duck wings, Quebec cheese platters or pulled pork poutine and you’re laughing.

Boswell Brasserie Artisanale in La Plateau is a good place to start. Serving their own brews on tap as well as other local favourites, there’s something for everyone here, even cider and Kombucha drinkers, and it doesn’t stop there. A short but good wine list, innovative cocktails and quality bites are also served.

For head-spinning options, head to Le Saint Bock, and their 850 varieties (for real).


Honourable mentions

Burlington (Vermont), San Francisco, Nashville, Vancouver and Toronto.




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