friends at a outdoor bar drinking pints of beer

Gather your friends and toast to incredible craft beer cities around the globe. (Photo: Getty Images)

Eat + Drink

Beer Travelers Take Note: These 9 Cities Have Surprising Brewery Scenes

We live in a craft-beer world. Cities as varied as London, with its centuries-old tradition of brewing, and Lima, where big-brand lagers dominated until recently, are now home to thriving modern beer scenes, boasting dozens of breweries, bars and bottle shops. Like smartphones and sushi, craft beer is an integral part of modern urban living.

And while beer trends can be stifling — New-World hops and hazy IPAs have become as popular with craft-beer drinkers as hipster beards — there’s also plenty of local color, like the Melbourne brewery that uses native wild yeast or the Lagos beer-makers putting Nigerian coffee in their stout.

After exploring a city’s new-to-you brew scene, keep the beer love going when you return to your Four Points hotel and take advantage of their signature Best Brews program. Guests of Four Points are connected to local beer culture through Best Brews — a perfect way to tap into a destination’s craft beer culture.

Here are nine cities with great — if very different — beer scenes.

As always, check for travel restrictions and closures before planning your trip.

Vancouver

Perhaps it makes sense that Canada’s most compelling beer scene is on the West Coast: The Yakima Valley, the world capital of modern hop growing, is just over the border in Washington State.

But Vancouver is not just about hops. The city has a diverse scene, centered around East Vancouver (nicknamed “Yeast Van” because of its volume of breweries), where Strange Fellows Brewing stands out. They make beers that bridge the gap between West Coast hopmania and European tradition, including West coast IPAs, Belgian witbiers and Vienna lagers.

Melbourne

beer glasses in a line
Quality is everything in Melbourne. (Photo: Getty Images)

In Australia’s most food-obsessed city, quality is everything. There are few cities that can match Melbourne for coffee, for example, while the local wine selection includes all that’s good about Aussie viticulture. The same can be said of beer.

While the city’s traditional preference for session drinking is expressed in easygoing drops like Hawkers’ Pale Ale and Thunder Road Full Steam Pale Lager, there’s a more experimental, distinctive edge, too.

La Sirène Brewing, for example, is devoted to saison, a Belgian style with a funky, dry character, and even makes a beer with local microflora, called Darebin Wild Ale.

Lima

Peru’s capital has a typical craft-beer scene in many ways: It’s not hard to track down craft-beer staples like hop-focused pale ales or stouts, stylish branding abounds (check out Lima’s Cerveza Magdalena brewery), and one of the city’s biggest craft breweries, Barbarian, is now part of Anheuser-Busch InBev’s huge global brewing family.

What sets it apart, though, are those breweries who blend Peruvian tradition with a modern approach — like Cerveza Cumbres, which uses purple corn to make its IPA, Maiz Morado.

Lagos, Nigeria

For many outsiders, Nigerian beer culture is defined by the locally brewed version of Guinness Foreign Extra Stout, a staple of chiller cabinets wherever there are Nigerian communities, from London to Toronto.

But Lagos’ beer culture is changing, with the first craft brewery, Bature Brewery, recently having put down roots with a new brewhouse and taproom in Victoria Island, where they make modern styles like New England IPA alongside others that pay homage to local ingredients, like Black Gold, a stout brewed with Nigerian-grown coffee and malt.

Chicago

beer glass on bar
Chicago’s craft beer game is strong. (Photo: Getty Images)

Craft beer may have been born in California, but Chicago played a key role in popularizing it around the world. Goose Island, founded in 1988 and owned since 2011 by AB InBev, played a key role in sparking the U.K.’s craft-beer movement, for example.

Chicago today is one of the U.S.’s liveliest beer scenes, with a rare abundance of variety and quality. Take Dovetail Brewing, for example: Inspired by the traditions of Germany and Belgium, Dovetail focuses on classic lagers and wild-fermented ales.

Kansas City

If Goose Island played a key role in turning Chicago into the beer mecca it is today, then Boulevard Brewing Company has done the same for Kansas City. Founded in 1989, it has become a byword for reliability and quality, helping to usher in a golden era for Kansas City beer.

Around Boulevard in Downtown KC you’ll find the likes of KC Bier — specialists in German styles — while the Crossroads Art District is home to City Barrel Brewery, which focuses on hoppy, wild and sour beers.

Barcelona

two people toasting beer mugs
Say, “Cheers!” to Barcelona’s craft beer. (Photo: Getty Images)

The craft-beer scene in Barcelona is a mixture of native flair and Anglophone inspiration. Barcelona’s arrival as a true beer city came under the influence of Englishman Steve Huxley, who opened the Barcelona Beer Company in 1993 and later a beer school to spread the word. It worked, belatedly.

Over the past 10 years, venues and breweries have opened at a rate of knots. Most notable, perhaps, is Garage Beer Co., founded by an Italian and an Englishman, and based in the heart of the city. Huxley sadly passed away in 2015, but the culture he helped create is still growing.

London

In one way, modern beer was born in London, where the first industrial breweries pumped out inky-black Porter for export around the world in the 18th and 19th centuries.

By the early years of this century, though, things were looking grim, with most of the great Victorian breweries closed. Happily, in the last 15 years, a great renaissance has taken hold, combining London’s enviable tradition with the energy and flavor of America’s craft-beer scene.

The epicenter is Bermondsey, in the south, where no brewery is as revered as The Kernel. For London-brewed cask ale, meanwhile, head east to the Pembury Tavern, the taproom for local brewery Five Points.

Nagoya, Japan

woman in japan holding two pints of beer
Discover the craft beer hub of Nagoya. (Photo: Getty Images)

In a country where beer has historically meant something crisp and refreshing, craft beer has made gradual progress over the past few decades.

Nagoya is a perfect example; although it doesn’t have the density of brewing operations of similar-sized American cities, for example, the offerings are of the highest quality. This being Japan, food is also a key element at downtown venues like Brick Lane and Y. Market Brewing Kitchen, where food runs the gamut from Mexican to rotisserie chicken, and the beer comes from Nagoya’s own Y Market Brewery.

Four Points hotels around the world feature Best Brews, their signature program, which connects guests to the area through local craft brews. Beer is more than a beverage — it’s a way to taste the details of your destination.