Destinations

Best beer gardens, new breweries, and beer bars in the US

We can’t deny that Americans have fallen in love with craft beer. The nation is home to nearly 10,000 craft breweries (and that number continues to grow), as well as thousands of beer bars and brewpubs. Just the sheer variety of quality beer on the market today can be overwhelming.

So, we set out to find the best of the beer scene by asking beer experts to nominate their top picks across each of 10 categories. Then, our readers voted for their favorites — and here’s who came out on top.

Click on each category below to see the full winners list:

Best Beer Bar: O’Brien’s Pub in San Diego, California

A visit to O'Brien's Pub is worth traveling forA visit to O’Brien’s Pub is worth traveling for — Photo courtesy of Tyson Blake

Not only is O’Brien’s Pub one of San Diego’s first craft beer bars — established in 1994 — but it’s also one of the most respected with 28 craft beers on tap. They especially emphasize Belgian beers, hoppy pours, and rarities from around the world to ensure beer enthusiasts are getting a unique pour whether it’s their first visit or 100th.

Full list of winners: Best Beer Bar »

Best Beer City: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Grand Rapids, Michigan wins Best Beer City for fourth year in a rowGrand Rapids, Michigan wins Best Beer City for fourth year in a row — Photo courtesy of Brian Craig for Experience Grand Rapids

Michigan’s second-largest city sports the state’s strongest beer scene, thanks largely to the presence of the world-renowned Founders Brewing Co. Not to be outdone, there are several other brewing operations around town, most notably the Belgian-inspired Brewery Vivant. The city’s official “Beer City Ale Trail” lists more than 80 breweries in the surrounding area, and the local calendar is constantly filled with beer festivals, events, and promotions. Throw in exceptional beer stores such as Siciliano’s Market, and it’s easy to see why Grand Rapids proudly stakes its claim as “Beer City USA.”

Full list of winners: Best Beer City »

Best Beer Club: Your Beer Friend

Discover new beers, hand-picked by the cicerones at Your Beer FriendDiscover new beers, hand-picked by the cicerones at Your Beer Friend — Photo courtesy of Nick Gingold

The cicerones at Your Beer Friend spend a lot of time hand-picking the best in craft beer, and to date, they’ve got a following of over 20,000 beer lovers. Join their beer club and you’ll get a subscription of six crafts each month, craft beer tasting cards, a beer snack, and even access to their monthly virtual tasting events. It’s a great way to sample some unique beers picked by knowledgeable curators.

Full list of winners: Best Beer Club »

Best Beer Festival: Barrel & Flow Fest in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Barrel & Flow Fest wins Best Beer Festival for second consecutive yearBarrel & Flow Fest wins Best Beer Festival for second consecutive year — Photo courtesy of Epicast

During Pittsburgh’s Barrel & Flow Fest, some 3,000 craft beer industry professionals and enthusiasts come together for a weekend celebrating Black-owned breweries, with collaborations with Black artists and entrepreneurs from throughout Pennsylvania and the United States.

Full list of winners: Best Beer Festival »

Best Beer Garden: The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery & Biergarten in Charlotte, North Carolina

Enjoy a delicious beer in the sprawling outdoor space at The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery & BiergartenEnjoy a delicious beer in the sprawling outdoor space at The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery & Biergarten — Photo courtesy of The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery

Located in Charlotte, North Carolina, The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery & Biergarten is the largest beer garden in the southeastern U.S. and is wrapped in 100-year-old hickory, pecan, and oak trees. Arrive thirsty and hungry because the beers range from India pale ales to hefeweizens, and the food options include German pretzels, sausages, and pork schnitzel.

Full list of winners: Best Beer Garden »

Best Beer Label: Liquid Crush – Liquid State Brewing Company

You might develop a crush on Liquid Crush when you see its labelYou might develop a crush on Liquid Crush when you see its label — Photo courtesy of Liquid State Brewing Company, Inc.

This New England IPA takes you (visually) out to sea with its blue and green label design. It’s described as featuring flavors of stone fruit, citrus, and tropical fruit and is brewed by Liquid State Brewing Company in New York’s Finger Lakes region.

Full list of winners: Best Beer Label »

Best Brewery Tour: Tröegs Independent Brewing in Hershey, Pennsylvania

Tröegs Independent Brewing wins Best Brewery Tour for fourth consecutive yearTröegs Independent Brewing wins Best Brewery Tour for fourth consecutive year — Photo courtesy of Tröegs Independent Brewing

Visitors to Hershey can enjoy a 1-hour guided production tour at Tröegs Independent Brewing. The experience includes a behind-the-scenes look at the mill room, hop cooler, brewhouse deck, fermentation cellars, and packaging lines. A welcome beer kicks off the exploration and three more samples are included.

Full list of winners: Best Brewery Tour »

Best Brewpub: Dewey Beer Co. in Dewey Beach, Delaware

Enjoy a diverse selection of beer and bites at Dewey Beer Co.Enjoy a diverse selection of beer and bites at Dewey Beer Co. — Photo courtesy of Dewey Beer Co.

Dewey Beer Co. is located in Dewey Beach, Delaware, just a stone’s throw from the shores of the Atlantic. Visitors enjoy some dozen beers on tap, from fruited numbers to IPAs and stouts, in addition to a food menu of handhelds and hearty entrees, like lo mein, pappardelle, and carne asada.

Full list of winners: Best Brewpub »

Best New Brewery: Seedz Brewery in Union Pier, Michigan

Make a special trip to Seedz Brewery to experience their slow poursMake a special trip to Seedz Brewery to experience their slow pours — Photo courtesy of Alexa Pedersen

Midwest breweries tend to get overshadowed by all the hop-centric Pacific Northwest pubs or either of the coasts when it comes to craft bars, but Seedz, a small-batch brewery in Union Pier is making its mark and bringing visitors to this sleepy town of just 600 inhabitants. They locally source all their hops and malt, and they specialize in slow pours, taking 5-7 minutes to pour the perfect pint. Czech- and German-styled lagers are at the forefront here.

Full list of winners: Best New Brewery »

Best Small Town Beer Scene: Cody, Wyoming

Stop in for a beer, as well as a taste of the Wild West, in Cody, WyomingStop in for a beer, as well as a taste of the Wild West, in Cody, Wyoming — Photo courtesy of Cody Yellowstone

You’ll encounter pints of Outlaw Justice Pale Ale and Sage Creek IPA if you head out to Cody, Wyoming, to discover its burgeoning wild west craft scene. The taprooms at WYOld West, Pat O’Hara, and Cody Craft Brewing are in full swing, plus there’s great craft beer to go with pizza pies at Millstone Pizza. Tiny Cody is no longer just the gateway to Yellowstone, but a place to stop and sip before and after you hit the trail.

Full list of winners: Best Small Town Beer Scene »

Congratulations to all these winners! Remember to visit 10best.usatoday.com daily to vote in our other Readers’ Choice Awards contests.

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