Over the last couple of years, we’ve enjoyed bringing you our best under-the-radar beer states and under-the-radar beer cities. And in the past, we’ve named what we thought were the best beer cities. This year, we wanted to do things a little differently, bringing you a global perspective on the top places we traveled for beer in 2023.
From the “Beer Capital of France” to the beer capital of Germany and a few pit stops in the U.S., of course, these are the top places we traveled to for beer this year.
Where We Traveled for Beer in 2023
Mexico City, Mexico
The brewery, set in an industrial area of Mexico’s capital, represents the vanguard of craft beer. In a male-dominated industry, Carrillo has made her mark with intensely creative beer featuring ingredients like chapulines (grasshoppers), garambulo, a cousin to the banana also known as bilberry cactus, and Mexican grains where she can.
Some of her beers have been picked up by world-renowned restaurants like Pujol and Rosetta.
Beyond Cerveceria Itañeñe, Mexico City has a few more top taprooms.
And if you ever find yourself in El Sauzal, B.C., Mexico, check out Cervecería Wendlandt, one of our “Best Breweries of 2021!”
France’s best-kept secret! Hop Culture Senior Content Editor Grace Weitz had never heard of Lille until one of her favorite YouTube channels, TopJaw, visited two years ago. Ever since she watched their 48 Hours in Lille video, she wanted to go. So she made it happen this year.
And she wasn’t disappointed.
At its core, Lille seems a rebellious teenager in the French family.
Where Paris can feel stifling and often wary of visitors, Lille feels chill, cozy, and welcoming.
Walking through old Lille, a collection of crisscrossing cobblestone streets, one can get lost as you zig-zag right and left, then left again. But you won’t be lost for too long. After only a half hour, you’ll pass shops twice, slowly mapping a way through the tangle of boutiques, little cafes with sidewalk tables, bakeries wafting smells of freshly baked brioche, and, of course, beer bars.
Lee-Weitz met owners from Motte Cordonnier and Le Célestin reviving their families’ 300-plus-year-old breweries under a craft renaissance.
And spent time ambling into craft beer bars and brewpubs like La Capsule and Bierbuik. Everyone greeted her warmly, took her in like I was in their home, and satiated her with hearty food and excellent beer.
When it comes to food and drink, we know France for many things: some of the best wine in the world, fantastic cheese, protected spirits like Champagne and Cognac, calvados, baguettes that you can get for one Euro, perfectly crisp and crackly croissants, Michelin star restaurants, and so much more.
But Lille is putting France on the beer map.
Pachmayer stayed busy this year, jetting off to Bavaria soon after getting back from Mexico! A storied beer-drinking region, Munich and the surrounding cities are studded with some of the world’s most famous breweries alongside newer craft ones.
As Pachmayer writes. “While exploring these historically rich locations should be on any beer lover’s bucket list, there is a growing depth to Munich’s beer scene, offering beers that range from traditionally inspired to completely different altogether.”
Pachmayer took us along for his incredible beer journey. We’re so jealous, we just might schedule our own trip here next year!
After visiting Lille, Lee-Weitz spent ten days traveling all around the Belgium visiting the best breweries and bars.
While all incredible, highlights included visiting the people’s brewery of Belgium, finding a hidden beer bar down a narrow alley with one of the best tripels, drinking beers with Belgium’s first female Trappist brewmaster, touring the most world-renowned lambic makers (yes, that one), and exploring a brewery in a 110-year-old abandoned church.
Visiting Belgium is a once-in-a-lifetime beer pilgrimage.
Greater Boston, MA, United States
Over the summer, Next Glass Content Writer Giovanni Albanese Jr. spent time visiting breweries from Greater Beantown while in town for a family wedding.
A native of the area, Albanese Jr. found that “the roots of Boston run deep,” as he wrote. “Boston and history are synonymous with each other. … And all along the way, beer has been the backbone of Beantown, producing some of the best breweries in the Greater Boston area.
Of course, Boston Beer Co. has anchored the city since founder Jim Koch brewed his great-grandfather’s recipe in his kitchen in 1984.
Today, you’ll also find icons like Night Shift, hype hazers like Tree House, West Coasters like Widowmaker, and neighborhood gems like Idle Hands and Bent Water, among so many others.
Richmond, VA, United States
IPA in RVA! Freelancer Marcea Cazel found hops galore in the Virginia city nestled on the banks of the historic James River. With a vibrant culture and rapidly growing craft beer scene, Richmond has breweries galore pushing the boundaries beyond just hops, too.
“Encompassing the stories, people, and historic neighborhoods of the area, these breweries (with a wine shop or two thrown in for variety) make up a dynamic landscape that is also welcoming and fun to explore,” writes Cazel.
From a brewpub that branched off a family Vietnamese restaurant to the first brewery in the state powered by renewable energy, find all the unique breweries and places to drink Cazel visited on the Richmond Beer Trail.
Atlanta, GA, United States
Sure, technically, Lee-Weitz visited Atlanta in late 2022, but who’s counting “technically.” All we know is that she had an absolute blast in the ATL, hanging with some of the city’s best and greatest. Such as Good Word Owner and Brewer Tood DiMatteo, Halfway Crooks Co-Founder Shawn Bainbridge, Elsewhere Co-Founders Sam and Sara Kazmer, and Monday Night Brewing Brewmaster Peter Riley.
The who’s who of Atlanta showed her why this Southern city proudly pulses to the beat of its own drum. “Character and, yes, a touch of Southern hospitality flow through the city’s veins. Along with a s***-ton of great craft beer,” wrote Lee-Weitz. “To me, Atlanta was like that first sip of a tall glass of cold pilsner on a hot day, refreshing and comforting. Something that took me to a happy place. And while I wanted to sit all day long on one of the hundreds of front porches and rocking chairs I passed, there simply wasn’t time.”
Take the time to see Hop Culture’s recs for the best places, breweries, and bars to drink in Atlanta.
We bet when you clicked on this article, Slovakia was one of the last countries on your mind. Well good! It’s our job to find you the best places to drink and eat across all four corners of the world.
Lucky for us, freelancer Hollie Stephens took a trip to the capital of this Eastern European country earlier this year.
She discovered that while “Slovakia’s capital might not be as well known for beer as the neighboring Czech Republic, the walkable city [with its] stunning architecture and affordable prices make Bratislava well worth a stop on any European craft beer trip,” she wrote.
Only a two-hour drive from Budapest and a one-hour train ride from Vienna, Bratislava might just be a city you keep on your beer radar.
In February, Lee-Weitz and her wife finally made it to Japan. We won’t bore you with the details (or will we?), but it had something to do with booking the trip using Chase points while Japan still wasn’t open to visitors 🤦and taking five or six phone calls with Chase to try and sort things out, rebooking for another time.
But it was all worth it as she found truly incredible ten-seat pubs like Two Fingers (one of our “Best Hidden Gem Places to Drink in 2023”) and Pigalle.
“I was eager to seek out these maybe not straight-up breweries, per se, but rather incredible (and incredibly tiny) hideaways, pubs, and craft beer bars filling their nooks and crannies with sought-after bottles and taps,” wrote Lee-Weitz.
Along with listening bars like Bar Martha. “Quite possibly the best bar I’ve ever been to,” Lee-Weitz reported.
And that’s not even mentioning some of the best bowls of ramen and udon she tried!
While homebrewing is still technically illegal in Japan, enjoying great beer isn’t.
We’ve already talked about Lille, but Freelancer Mike Brokos reported that Paris does have its own craft beer culture, too. Albeit it might be a bit smaller, Paris might surprise you.
“Wine is a huge deal throughout France, and Paris is no exception,” wrote Brokos. “It might surprise you that beer is exceptionally popular among Parisians.”
From a trendy micro brasserie to a quaint nano brewery, Brokos drank his way around the City of Lights, shining his own light on where you can find the best places to drink craft beer in Paris.
Sacramento and Rancho Cordova, CA
Yes, when we say California and where to find great beer in the same breath, you’ll probably respond with San Diego, L.A., or even just the Bay Area. Or you might answer with straight-up breweries like Sierra Nevada, Firestone Walker, and Russian River, destinations in their own right outside of major metro areas. And hey, we’d be thinking the same thing considering Lee-Weitz had the chance to go to a Pliny the Younger release with her dad in March.
But Lee-Weitz urges you to look further afield, dig deeper into the gold mine, and shine a more golden spotlight on lesser-known places such as Sacramento and Rancho Cordova.
On her way to Chico, CA, to visit Sierra Nevada for the first time, Lee-Weitz stopped in California’s capital.
In the city well-known for bursting with fresh farm-to-table food, Lee-Weitz also found Sacramento full of plenty of grain-to-glass gems.
“Travel about an hour north of San Francisco and Oakland and you’ll roll into the state’s capital—Sacramento. And much like those first explorers who discovered gold, you can unearth a few absolute treasures in America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital,” she wrote. “Actually, we might as well rename Sacramento America’s Grain-to-Glass Capital after our most recent trip.
From a brewery making some of the country’s best imperial stouts and West Coast IPAs to one combining craft beer and barbecue, this hidden craft beer city has some hidden gems.
Conversely, towards the end of the year, Lee-Weitz traveled even farther from Sacramento to Rancho Cordova, a drinker’s gold mine.
Located about an hour and a half drive Northeast of San Francisco (without traffic) in the heart of sunny Gold Country, Rancho Cordova beckons with a bevy of breweries, wineries, cideries, meaderies, kombucha taprooms, and distilleries.
“Secretly, I love finding those lesser-known places—cities off the beaten path and away from the metropolitan lights,” she wrote. “Whether you’re visiting Sacramento and need to get outside the city for a day, heading to Lake Tahoe and looking for a pit stop, or just searching for a new little-known beer adventure, Rancho Cordova could be your next pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.”
Lee-Weitz visited Nashville for the first time this year during the Craft Brewers Conference (CBC).
She found those second-wave breweries like Southern Grist (celebrating its seventh anniversary) and Bearded Iris thriving along with a crop of new ones like Fait La Force (one of “Hop Culture’s Best New Breweries of 2023”) and Barrique Brewing and Blending.
Find out where she two-stepped to drink around the Music City.
Vero Beach, FL
But just like we told you about a potential gold mine in California away from the major cities, we found one in Florida, too.
When Lee-Weitz visited Vero Beach, FL, for Hop Culture Founder Kenny Gould’s wedding❗🥳 she stumbled into (and potentially out of) one of her favorite breweries of the year—Walking Tree Brewery.
Started in 2016 by partners Brooke and Mike Malone, Walking Tree dazzles in its size (literally, the brewery posted up in an old Navy hangar that’s 24,000 sq ft), variety of impeccable beers, and sense of community.
Lee-Weitz met up with Brooke and Mike around 4 pm on a Friday. Quite a few beers, a shot of barleywine (yes, it’s a thing here. And yes, you can sip on it), and hours of conversation later, she felt like she understood why the residents of this sleepy little coastal town love Walking Tree.
The roots run deep. By 7 pm, the space was packed with regulars posted up at the bar, a birthday party crowded into one of the long tables, and people just buzzing with good vibes.
Beyond beer, Vero Beach also has a cool selection of distilleries. For instance, Indian River Distillery just down the block from Walking Tree and 21st Amendment Distillery. Both take a craft approach to distilling with Indian River Distillery Owner Ray Hooker, a former landscaper who professes himself a distilling nerd, calling his style “old-world Florida,” using local ingredients and naming spirits after local legends.
For example, the Notorious Ashley Gang Moonshine Corn Whiskey, named after an early 1900s local Robin Hood, features forty percent Jimmy Red Corn, a Florida Seminole Indian variety of corn, and sixty percent non-GMO organic yellow corn.
21st Amendment Distillery Co-Founder Jeff Palleschi similarly taps into history, American history, that is, respecting a sort of blue-collar work ethic he feels became the foundation of the country he loves. At his distillery, Palleschi hopes that people can come in, sit down, chat, listen to some music, and have a nice craft cocktail. “I’ve always said we have more in common than we do not in common,” he told Lee-Weitz, who tried the Bourbon Espresso Martini on her visit (because it was 11:59 am in the morning)
Lee-Weitz will have a full guide on her forty-eight hours in Vero Beach publishing next year!