Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Best City for Beer in America?
What's the best city in America for beer?
Thankfully this is not an easy question to answer. My initial knee jerk answer lends a few great ones, perhaps Denver, San Diego, Portland, or possibly Boston. But after thinking about it for awhile, its clear that there is no "best" city for beer and I think that's alright (as Americans we love #1, ain't that right?). That being said I think that there are at least some relative parameters for measuring your city's beer worthiness.
1) A wide variety of local brewed beer.
Let's face it, with the exception of the occasional barleywine or imperial stout, beer is a beverage best enjoyed fresh. Nothing is better than enjoying a freshly poured pint at or near the actual brewery. So in order to be great your town has to have accessible breweries or brewpubs. I think a a variety of local brewers is also important because it ensures more in the way of choice. Choice of what you ask? Choice of style, lager or ale, hops or malt, inspiration from afar (e.g. Belgium) or inspiration from home (e.g. west coast pale ales).
2) Great beer bars and restaurants.
A great beer city, has to have great beer bars with variety of draft and bottle selections as well as a knowledgeable staff. The knowledgeable staff part is key. I hate going to a place that has a wide selection of draft options and asking the waiter or waitress about a particular offering and they respond either that they "don't like beer" or "I mainly drink miller lite."
Also, not to be overlooked are great beer restaurants. In case you haven't noticed, beer is good by itself, but great with food. The trend in good beer restaurants the last couple of years has been beer and food pairings also beer used in the preparation of the food itself.
3) Great beer stores.
If you are like me, you like to try something new almost every week. That being said, I can't necessarily afford a trip out to my local watering hole for $8 - $12 pints of the newest Belgian IPA, but I can afford to purchase a four pack of the BIPA at a store for $10 and enjoy it all week long.
4) Great beer distributors.
This one kind of takes a back seat and isn't readily apparent, but it allows the first three items on this list to exist. You've got to have at least one to two distributors in your area who have a passion for good beer instead of just being sales focused. As highly as I regard great local beer selection, I think its still awesome if you get the chance to try stuff from either other US markets or even internationally.
So, how does DC rate in all of this? I think we do pretty well in items two through four, but we are still about a half dozen local breweries away from making it great.
How's your city hold up? What's your favorite beer town?