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America’s REAL Top 10 Brewing Cities. No BS.

on 07/02/13 at 12:45 pm


a1As part of a research project, back in December, I started compiling a list of the nation’s beer meccas; those areas where a beer aficionado can go and taste to his/her geeky little heart’s desire and know that almost every stop will be filled with wonders.

So, after making my own preliminary notes, I googled “Ten Best American Beer Cities” – and two variations thereof – and started to read.

For the first minute or so, I was puzzled. Then baffled. Then appalled. Just for an example, GQ gave the title of America’s best city to Los Angeles, a city that sports no real nationally-prominent breweries (with apologies to everyone who brews there) but has a fair number of mid-tier, fledgling, or sometimes downright mediocre producers. Travel + Leisure at least came up with a plausible Numero Uno,  Portland, Oregon, but ranked what is pretty much inarguably the nation’s best single metro area, San Diego, as eighteenth, behind the likes of  Savannah, Austin, Charleston, South Carolina(!)(?), and Anchorage! I read a total of 23 lists, including one in which the author names a tiny, ramshackle brewpub in rural Montana in his top five and left off Portland and San Diego altogether.

I was stunned. These websites were all large, reputable, well-funded businesses which could have easily assigned any passing beer geek to amass such a list. Instead, when I started to check around, I found that the first ten lists were by:

4 travel editors and/or contributing authors, NONE with any experience as a beer writer

2 human interest writers

1 writer of bicycling coverage

1 one alternative music reviewer

2 freelance assignment writers, neither of whom had any background at all in beer journalism.

NONE of the people who authored these lists were any more than semi-casual beer fans. None had written extensively about beer at all, except for one guy who had written a detailed exploration of funky brewpubs in which fighting or arm-wrestling were the main events, for which the production of beer served as a slightly-exotic adjunct.