This October, Tasting Table is getting away from it all. Come away with us as we explore the world of travel.
You probably know something about the storied beer cultures of cities like Munich, Denver, Prague and Portland. But everyone everywhere is making beer now, and many towns not considered to be hoppy hotspots have emerged in the past few years with surprisingly rich craft beer scenes. Here are five beer cities that we think deserve more credit.
When it comes to beer, L.A. has long been in the shadow of its neighbor to the south, San Diego, home to Green Flash, Stone and a cluster of other nationally known and noteworthy producers. But now the City of Angels is creating its own identity with a surge of new breweries and brewpubs popping up from Santa Monica to Seal Beach.
"In many ways, L.A. is more under the radar than San Diego," Luke Schmuecker of The Beer Exchange, an online beer-trading community, says. "In San Diego, you'll get four different beer tours showing up every 10 minutes and taking over the bar just to slam down as much beer as possible," he says. "In L.A., you can walk into a tasting room and get some world-class beer without having to wait in line."
Known for its aggressive IPAs and other full-flavored ales, Beachwood will soon open a blending and barrel-aging facility one block away from its Long Beach headquarters. 210 E. Third St., Long Beach
A classic L.A. gastropub serving gussied-up burgers paired with a rotating selection of more than 30 drafts and many more bottles. A second location is in Santa Monica. 3229 Helms Ave., Los Angeles
Smog City Brewing Co.
Homebrewers-turned-professionals Laurie and Jonathan Porter craft inventive beers at their Torrance-based brewery, like Groundwork Coffee Porter and Bourbon O.E., a barrel-aged barley wine. 1901 Del Amo Blvd. #B, Torrance
Phantom Carriage Brewery & Blending
Combining a love for vintage horror movies with sour and farmhouse ales, Phantom Carriage is a one-of-a-kind, "only-in-L.A." operation. Don't leave without catching a flick in the Phantom Theatre screening room along with a Muis 100 percent Brettanomyces-fermented Belgian blonde ale. 18525 S. Main St., Carson
With its gut-busting menu (think bacon-fat fries and a duck French dip) and its dozen-plus taps, this Koreatown pub is guaranteed to add to your growing—ahem—beer belly. 532 Western Ave., Los Angeles
Forget Kirin and Asahi. Next time you're in Tokyo, grab a Japanese craft beer. According to blogger Tokyo Beer Drinker (a semi-anonymous ex-pat who goes by Neil), its beer scene is growing at an incredible rate. "New bars are opening in Tokyo pretty much every week," he says, "and there's no sign of things slowing down at the moment." He adds that the craft beer craze is still young with lots of enthusiasm, "which makes Tokyo a nice place to drink craft beer."
It may be more popular with tourists than locals now, but this institution has a huge selection of 70 drafts, mostly from Japanese craft breweries. 2-18-7 Ryogoku, Sumida-ku
Great American-inspired food and craft beers from Japan and Europe, including Switzerland's BFM and Tokyo's Swan Lake. Waterras Tower, Kanda Awajicho 2-chome, Chiyoda-ku
Denmark's world-roving brewer, Mikkel Borg Bjergsø, opened this cozy bar with 20 taps, 15 of which are his own beers, with the remaining five reserved for local Japanese brews. 37-10 Udagawacho, Shibuya-ku
Baird Harajuku Taproom
One of two brewpubs run by the Baird Brewery, which is owned by an American ex-pat with an American head brewer, it's the best place to check out Baird beer. 2F, 1-20-3 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku
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Tampa Bay Area
From the sunny shores of St. Petersburg to the historical cigar-manufacturing district of Ybor City, the Tampa Bay area boasts an enclave replete with some of the country's most interesting breweries. The region's patriarch producer, Cigar City Brewing, has long been reason enough to visit the area, but now innovative newcomers like Green Bench and 7venth Sun are upping the game by putting out experimental saisons and wood-aged sour ales.
Green Bench Brewing Co.
At this sprawling brewery and taproom in Downtown St. Pete, head brewer Khris Johnson specializes in farmhouse-style saisons and wild ales. 1133 Baum Ave. N., St Petersburg
Coppertail Brewing Co.
This Tampa upstart focuses on American and Belgian-inspired ales, as well as fruity Florida Weisse beers like Strawberry Rhubarb Pie and Whoops (brewed with cranberries and hibiscus). 2601 E. Second Ave., Tampa
St. Somewhere Brewing
Saison is the name of the game at this Belgian-inspired nanobrewery in Tarpon Springs. If you're planning a visit, it's best to call ahead, because it keeps irregular hours and is planning a move downtown soon. 1441 Savannah Ave., Tarpon Springs
7venth Sun Brewing
A snug tasting room just one block from the Gulf of Mexico featuring hoppy IPAs and experimental barrel-aged beers. 1012 Broadway, Dunedin
A bike-centric spin off of Peg's Cantina brewpub with sessionable hoppy ales like Freewheel pale ale. 534 Central Ave., St. Petersburg
Rome has always been a great eating and wine-drinking city. Now it's one of Europe's best craft beer destinations, too. "The city is the capital of Italian craft beer consumption, thanks to bars like Ma Che Siete Venuti a Fà that have championed imported and domestic birra artigianale for over a decade," says Katie Parla, a Rome-based journalist and author. "In the past five years in particular, pubs (often affiliated with breweries) have popped up all over town," she says, "and now there's a beer shop in nearly every neighborhood."
Founded by Italy's birra artigianale godfather, Teo Musso (of Birrificio Baladin), this pub specializes in all-Italian drafts and bottles. Via Degli Specchi 6
Ma Che Siete Venuti a Fà
This pocket bar in Rome's hip Trastevere neighborhood is one of the city's original craft beer hangouts. Look for the suds-sipping crowd spilling out onto the street. Via di Benedetta 25
A pub near the banks of the Tiber River combining Italian craft beers with an interesting selection of natural wines. Via Antonio Pacinotti 83
A bottle shop and pub in Rome's Pigneto neighborhood that specializes in European and American craft beers with a special emphasis on vintage lambics and other sour ales. Via del Pigneto 105
Near Piazza Navona, this pub is a collaborative effort among brewers Teo Musso and Leonardo di Vincenzo (of Birra del Borgo) and hotshot baker Gabriele Bonci of the legendary Pizzarium. A delightful list of natural wines rounds out the menu. Piazza di Montevecchio 16a
New York City
Perhaps the per capita numbers are paltry—just 22 breweries for a city of 8.5 million people—but what New York lacks in production, it makes up for in craft bars, specialty shops and beer-centric restaurants whose numbers now glide effortlessly into the hundreds. And though the hotspots skew largely in favor of Brooklyn and Manhattan, the so-called outer boroughs of Queens (which has more breweries than any other borough), the Bronx and Staten Island are stepping up with their own local flavors.
"Unlike a few years ago, the New York beer scene now spans all five boroughs," Niko Krommydas, a Brooklyn-based writer and the editor of the Craft Beer New York smartphone app, says. "As a result, a tour through the city's best bars and breweries is also one of the best ways to fully explore nearly every nook and cranny of the city."
Other Half Brewing
The current darling of the NYC craft beer scene, this brewery focuses on aromatic IPAs and funky barrel-aged sours. The tasting room gets boisterously fun on weekends. 195 Centre St., Brooklyn
One of NYC's original craft beer bars, this West Village haunt is popular with craft beer nerds and NYU students. Bar none, one of the coolest beer selections and locations to have a pint in the city. 281 Bleecker St., Manhattan
Dirck the Norseman
This brewpub features one of Brooklyn's most underrated breweries, Greenpoint Beer & Ale Co., making beer on-premise behind the glass wall in the back. Pay particular attention to its tart kettle-soured simple ales. 7 N. 15th St., Brooklyn
This sliver of a bar on St. Marks in the East Village serves "rare, new and unusual beer," including highly sought-after bottles by the glass. 102 St. Marks Pl., Manhattan
One of New York's many bottle shop-bar hybrids, Covenhoven features hundreds of bottles and cans, from local breweries to rare imports, all at a fair price. Grab a pint to stay and check out the cozy backyard, which is great during warmer seasons. 730 Classon Ave., Brooklyn