(NEXSTAR) – Beer tourism. It’s a thing.
Beer enthusiasts across the world are likely familiar with the concept of a “beercation,” or an excursion planned with the intention (at least in part) of visiting the local breweries or taprooms. Interest in “beercations” has actually become so prevalent, in fact, that Travelocity debuted a “Beer Tourism Index” in 2019 after a survey of just over 1,000 users found that over three-quarters showed interest in booking a trip that included local beer tastings or brewery tours.
Recognizing this growing trend, the analysts at HomeToGo — a vacation rental platform — sought to determine America’s best “beer towns” using a “Beer Lovers Index” based on the number of brewpubs, breweries and top-rated bars, as well as the average prices of beer and the median cost of nightly accommodations for travelers hoping to spend a few nights in the city.
After researching hundreds of cities, HomeToGo settled on a ranking of the top 17 destinations for beer buffs looking for a quick, boozy getaway.
Only one California city made the list – and it’s not in the IPA-crazed northern half of the state. San Diego’s number of breweries to visit earned it a spot on the best-of list.
San Diego ranked 11 overall. Its spot on the list was knocked down a bit by the relatively high cost of beers and the high cost of accommodations in the city.
It’s far from the first time San Diego is being recognized as a beer destination. AleSmith Brewing, Modern Times, and Alpine Beer Company all produce brews that have been recognized as some of the top craft beers in the country.
Topping HomeToGo’s rankings is Chicago, Illinois, a city which scored high for its abundance of breweries and well-reviewed bars, as well as the affordability of pints and overnight stays.
“The brewery scene has taken off over the past few decades with Goose Island Beer Company opening in 1988,” writes HomeToGo, which noted that Chicago boasts 50 breweries. “Other local brewers like Two Brothers, Half Acre Beer Company, and Metropolitan Brewing have also become tremendously popular over the years.”
Rounding out the top five were Portland, Oregon, which boasts 52 breweries; Milwaukee, which earned a perfect score for affordable accommodations; Denver, which hosts the annual Great American Beer Festival; and Seattle, whose oldest brewery dates back to 1854, HomeToGo noted.
The full list of the best “beer towns,” according to HomeToGo, are ranked as follows:
- Portland, Oregon
- New York City
- Asheville, North Carolina
- Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
- San Diego
- Daytona Beach, Florida
- Charleston, South Carolina
- Birmingham, Alabama
- Portland, Maine
- Key West, Florida
In researching each city, HomeToGo utilized data from the Brewers Association. Open Brewery DB, Rate Beer, Numbeo and HomeToGo, the latter providing median nightly prices for vacation rentals.
More information, including category-specific scores for each top-rated city, can be found at HomeToGo.