The Basics of Home Brewing

 

If you are a beer lover, you may have considered brewing beer at the comfort of your home. It’s not only economical; it’s also a great hobby that you could share with your friends. And by the end of your project, you’ll be welcomed with a cold glass of your very own beer.

Purchase a starter kit

As you begin to explore the art of brewing beer, getting a starting kit would be your best option. This kit contains all the supplies and equipments which are needed for home brewing, plus, detailed instructions also come with the package. This is especially recommended for beginners as you’ll be provided with everything you need for this project.

Prepare the ingredients

Surprisingly, beer involves a simple process. It’s basically just water with malt.

Most of the time, the ingredients needed in brewing are included in the home brew starter kit. As you master the art of brewing beer, you can start experimenting and add in hops, grains and malts. These could provide an added flavor to your beer.

Brewing the beer

Brewing beer is easy, especially if you’re using a starter kit. Follow these steps and start brewing your own beer.

Brewing – This process takes about 2 hours.

Start off by cleaning and sterilizing your equipments. Dissolve the brew in 2 to 4 liters of hot water then add in 1 Kg of dextrose or sugar. Then, put 10 liters of cold water in the fermenter, add the hot mixture and mix it well.

Top it up to 23 liters. When the temperature reaches below 30°, sprinkle it with brewer’s yeast.

Fermenting – This process takes about a week

This is where the magic happens! After adding the yeast, you can now seal the fermenter. Remember to partially fill the airlock with boiled, cooled water.

Allow the brew to ferment for a week, letting it stay at about 20 to 22°. Once you notice that the brew clears and the airlock stops bubbling, set aside for 48 hours. After this, you beer is ready for bottling.

Bottling

Make sure to sterilize all the caps and bottles. Add 1 tablespoon of sugar to each bottle. Fill the bottles, leaving 40mm from the top.

Cover the bottles and tilt each bottle for a few times in order to dissolve the sugar. Keep them in a warm place for about 5 days, then transfer them to a cooler place and let it stay for another 5 days. Leave it alone for another week. After this, you are free to enjoy your very own beer.

‘Tis the Season for Winter Craft Beers

We’ve made a list and checked it twice of some of this year’s most anticipated winter seasonals. The flavors and smells indicative of the winter months—cinnamon, spruce, allspice, gingerbread and smoke—are on display in these craft beers that will bring a new dimension to your holiday table. Here’s a list of some great beer to check out this holiday season:

1. Samichlaus

The king of Christmas beers, Samichlaus is the highlight of the holiday season for many beer enthusiasts. It is a rich, aged doppelbock brewed at the Austrian brewery Schloss Eggenberg.

2. Samuel Adams Winter Classics Mix Pack

This mix pack contains a variety of beers. This makes it a nice way to try some unusual beer for beer lovers who are just discovering craft beer. Though it can change from year to year the mix pack often contains Boston LagerOld Fezziwig AleWinter LagerHoliday PorterBlack Lager, andCranberry Lambic.

3. Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale

How do you say Merry Christmas to a hop-head? With a six pack of Celebration Ale from Sierra Nevada. Besides have a pretty significant bitterness at 62 IBUs, this beer is also dry hopped which raises the hops in the aroma and flavor.

4. Samuel Smiths Winter Welcome Ale

Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome is a traditional winter warmer and in many ways has served as the modern benchmark for the style. It is big in flavor and alcohol. Though maltiness dominates it does have a good bit of balancing hops as well as hints of apples and caramel.

5. Odell Brewing Co. Isolation Ale

Odell Brewing brews Isolation Ale as their winter seasonal. This beer is packed with hops character without a lot of the bitterness. It’s a bit unusual as a wintertime beer in that it does not carry the huge, dark malt flavors of many of the others.

6. Avery Brewing Old Jubilation

This is one of those examples of artful, adjunct free beers. Avery brews some pretty amazing beer using only the four traditional ingredients.

Old Jubilation certainly fits in the winter warmer category. With heaps of malt and 8% alcohol, this complex and tasty beer will make a welcome addition to your holiday bar.

7. Bush Noël (Scaldis Noël in the US)

This is how the Belgians make a winter warmer. This beer is rich with lots of malt. Though malt dominates, the complexity from the wilder yeasts Belgians tend to use plus the unusual practice of aging this beer with hops flowers in the vats for four to six weeks, gives this brew unique flavor and character.

8. Schlafly Christmas Ale

If you’re looking for a beer with all of the traditional yuletide flavors, this is it. Schlafly adds cloves and orange peel to this medium bodied ale. This beer says “Christmas” in a very straight forward way.

9. Young’s Winter Warmer

Young’s beers are always solid beers and generally excellent examples of style. Their Winter Warmer is a middle of the road warmer. This would be a good beer to have on hand if your some of guests might not be up to the challenge of some of the bigger beers that I’ve listed above.

10. Your Local Brewery

OK, so this is not a specific beer but I cannot let this opportunity pass on my personal mission to get more people to drink local beer. While I’ve listed some popular beers here that can help you celebrate the season – and there are many, many others – do not overlook that brewery that’s making great beer just a few miles or perhaps even just a few blocks from you. Personally I have two local breweries that make perfectly wonderful winter brews and stopping in for a fresh pint is always a treat. While you should head to the good beer store to stock up on some great seasonal brews you should also stop at the local brewery and see what they’ve whipped up.

(source: http://beer.about.com/od/beerrecommendations/tp/10WinterBeers.htm)

 

New App: Beer Hunt

Beer Hunt wants to be the “go-to app” for people who like to try interesting and new beers. It’s a social game. When you’re drinking a beer, you log in to document your beer and earn points and badges that can lead to rewards in the form of free beer.

Screen Shot 2013-09-24 at 12.43.30 PM

“The design of beer hunt is meant to be simple and fun,” said CEO Shaan Puri on stage. “It is beer after all!”

Upon signing up, you answer a brief beer quiz about beers you have tried and/or like. You can then earn points for trying different beers and rise up on a leaderboard. The application also features a “drink-o-graph” with information like your beer preferences and the time since your last beer. Puri said that while Beer Hunt is a fun game, in their case, “free beer is serious business.” Craft beer is booming right now and beer is the most popular drink in the world after water and tea. The team plans to make money by providing beer brands a channel to reach customers, based on what they like and what they have had in the past.

Make sure to check it out here: http://beerhunt.com/

Not in Germany? Here are 5 Kick-Ass Oktoberfest Events Stateside

It is that time of the year again!

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Nope, not back to school – that’s lame. We are talking about Oktoberfest!  Time to pull up your lederhosen, dust off the liter-and-a-half beer steins, and grab your favorite dachshund companion.

If a trip to Munich is not in your budget this year, or the idea of pork knuckles does not inspire, don’t worry. There are plenty of awesome Oktoberfest events happening Stateside. Beerhunt has you covered with our list of the Top 5 Best Oktoberfest events in the US.

5. Denver Oktoberfest Denver, Colorado

Bratwurst eating contests and stein hoisting competitions have made Denver’s annual Oktoberfest unforgettable for the past forty-four years. Weiner dog races (including dogs of any age or size – no discrimination in Denver) also play a large part in the festivities. Awards are given in the following categories:

•    Little Links (under 1 year of age)
•    Frankfurters (1-5 years of age)
•    Bier Brats (5-10 years of age)
•    Senior Schnitzels (more than 10 years)
•    Hot Dog Carts (handicapped)
•    Wannabe Wieners (dachshund mixes)

Each year, 350,000 revelers stumble home from the event that takes place September 27th-29th and October 4th-6th.  And there could not be a better location than Denver -Colorado ranks third in the nation for brewpubs and craft breweries, and takes first place for gross beer production. One reason? It is the home of Coors, the largest brewery facility in the world, but we all know how the Huntmaster feels about that.

4. Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati Cincinnati, Ohio

Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati is the mother of all US Oktoberfest festivities, with more than 500,000 visitors annually. Not only can you drink excessive amounts of beer and sample one of 400 pig’s feet, you can also participate in the world’s largest chicken dance. Ja, you read that correctly. The dance that you were forced to do in your junior high school gym has German roots. Each year, Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati recruits a celebrity host for the dance – this year’s host is Star Trek actor George Takei.  In 1994, the Crown Prince of Bavaria joined 48,000 other chickens to set a world record for the World’s Largest Chicken Dance. See the Guinness Book of Records, 1995-97 editions, for documentary proof.

3.  Oktoberfest USA La Crosse, Wisconsin

If you seek a more authentic German experience, and less of out-and-out drunken revelry, head to Wisconsin. There, you will find a town parade, a walk to end Alzheimer’s, and the Miss La Crosse beauty pageant, which unfortunately does not contain a dirndl competition.

The celebration draws up to 150,000 people during the opening weekend that kicks off September 27th.

2. Alpine Village Oktoberfest Torrance, California

So, yeah. Check out that beer list. Think you can taste and record them all in Beerhunt? Not only does Alpine Village Oktoberfest boast of the best beer list we’ve seen, but the venue itself is a recreated German village. In addition to the usual events there is a yodeling and wood sawing competition. This year’s Oktoberfest will be held every Friday and Saturday night between September 13 and October 27 and on Sunday afternoons from September 15 through October 26.

1. Oktoberfest By The Bay – San Francisco

As if we wouldn’t rank our hometown #1!  It would be like hating The Giants. Plenty of good food, craft beers and sizzling oompah music should get you down to Pier 48 to celebrate. If you are looking for something a little more low key, and a lot more hipster, don’t forget to check out San Francisco’s one and only biergarten in Hayes Valley.

 

 

Hopstories

Every bottle of craft beer you take off the shelf has a story. It’s written by individuals with the passion to start a brewery and the dedication to master the craft. We share their story, and the stories behind your favorite brews, in Hopstories.

Here’s a craft beer video documentary series I think you folks might like:

 

Why Are IPAs so Popular?

Four Reasons Why IPAs Are so Popular

  1. They taste good.
  2. They’re “advanced.”
  3. They have lots of flavor.
  4. Science!

IPAs Taste Good

It is important that Conley has separate entries for taste and flavor. It might interest you to know that they are not quite the same thing. Along with sight, smell, touch and hearing, taste is one of our five senses. Our taste buds recognize sweet, salty, sour, umami and bitter.

Bitter is certainly a major factor when tasting an IPA, as the style employs an increased amount of hops which can add what is often described as evident, bracing and even aggressive bitterness. Since everyone has slightly different tastes, what may be evident bitterness to one craft beer drinker may be bracing to another.

IPAs Are “Advanced”

While bitterness of an IPA has a lot to do with a person’s individual perception, we also know that tastes can change over time. You may not have enjoyed the first highly-hopped IPA you tried, but over time, perhaps you grew to really enjoy a bracingly bitter IPA—or not, that’s ok too!

Human taste is pre-wired from the time we’re born. For example, innately we like the taste of sweet things as children, but perhaps do not take to sour or bitter flavors right away. But as we grow up and try new things, our brain figures out that not all sour and bitter flavors are bad, such is the case with IPAs.

Experts believe that our sense of taste helped ancient humans choose what types of things were good to eat. To the human mind, a sweet taste translates to calories and energy, which is good for a hungry little hunter-gatherer. However, sour tastes may mean that the food has become rancid or is potentially poisonous.

IPA beer quote

Bitterness in beer is not bad, and actually often provides a refreshing balance. Wouldn’t beer be boring if it was just sugary sweet? So perhaps enjoying an IPA does signify a state of advanced beer appreciation. Being able to sense not just the bitterness of an IPA, but the more nuanced contributions hops add to a beer, such as aroma and flavor happens over time.

In a nut shell, beer drinkers are not pre-wired to like IPAs, you learn to like them, so in a weird way it can be a craft beer badge of honor to order one.

IPAs Have Lots of Flavor

While taste is one of our five senses, flavor is considered a synthetic sense, where a mix of stimuli come together and our brain works to recognize, record and recount a certain flavor. Taste plays a role in flavor, but all of the other senses work in cooperation to create flavor too.

When you drink an IPA, you experience a lot of different components, but your taste buds can really only tell you if what you are experiencing is sweet, bitter, sour, salty or umami. In this case, there might be some sweet and bitter, but when the taste of an IPA is paired with the aroma and golden color, you sense flavors like grapefruit, pine, roses, etc.

Science!

Each drinker’s personal taste is as unique as the fingerprints on their condensation-covered glass—it’s totally subjective. What one may like about the flavor of an IPA may be different from what another may or may not like about the style. I love IPAs, but do I love every IPA I try, not necessarily. Science is certainly a major player in the IPA discussion, from hop variety development, all the way to personal flavor perception.

Appropriately, Conley finishes with the obvious answer of, “They’re popular because damn, they’re tasty.” Does that mean that all examples of the style are tasty to everyone—no. Each of us has a unique set of tastes, both inherited and learned. Some will never like the bitterness of an IPA, and some will decide they do. Luckily, there are plenty of IPAs out there to test and train your taste buds.

 

Craft Beer Continues to Outpace Expectations

Craft beer industry posts double-digit growth, Boulder’s Brewers Association reports

Contribution by Alicia Wallace

Lindsay Kleinsasser enjoys a pint at Oskar Blues’ Tasty Weasel Tap Room in Longmont this past March. (Jonathan Castner / Camera file photo)

The craft brewing industry is sustaining its torrid growth pace by notching double-digit gains in sales and volume for the first six months of 2013, according to a report released Monday by the Boulder-based Brewers Association.

Dollar sales and volume for craft brewers — defined as “small, independent and traditional” — were up 15 percent and 13 percent, respectively, through June, according to the nonprofit trade association. During the same period last year, sales and volume were up 14 percent and 12 percent, respectively.

If the pace continues, it would be the fourth consecutive year of double-digit sales and volume growth for the industry, which has seen volume sales increase every year since 1969 and dollar sales grow since 1997, officials for the Brewers Association said.

“To sustain double-digit growth year after year is not to be taken for granted,” said Julia Herz, craft beer program director for the Brewers Association. “But the craft beer revolution is on.”

The sales growth comes amid a continued swelling of the craft brewing ranks.

Through the first half of 2013, there were 2,483 craft breweries in operation in the United States, a more than 20 percent increase from the first half of last year. Additionally, there were 1,605 breweries in planning at the end of June.

The brewery boom has been felt locally, with new operations popping up throughout Boulder County.

Four weeks in operation, Louisville’s Twelve Degree Brewing has been four-and-a-half years in the making.

“Craft beer fans like to sample and experiment, so I think the idea of lots of small breweries — each with its own personality and style — is a very good thing,” Jon Howland, Twelve Degree’s founder, said in an e-mail. “I’m a big fan of Belgium’s beer culture and that’s the situation over there. Almost every little town has its own brewery and, in many cases, more than one.

“It’s really exciting to see this happen in the U.S.”

Craft breweries account for 98 percent of U.S. breweries, officials for the association said.

“More breweries are currently operating in the U.S. than at any time since the 1870s,” Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association, said in a statement. “With each new brewery opening, American craft brewers are reinforcing the (United States’) position as the world’s most diverse brewing nation.”

Overall beer sales fell 2 percent through the first six months of the year, according to the Brewers Association report.

Leading the craft segment’s charges are the continued growth among established brewers within the industry, Herz said.

“The majority of new brewers are not at the volume yet,” she said.

Longmont’s Oskar Blues Brewery, the largest brewer in Boulder County, on Monday reported a 38 percent growth in volume for the first half of 2013, outpacing the craft industry by 25 percentage points.

Fueling the growth was the opening of a Tasty Weasel Taproom and brewery in Brevard, N.C., said Chad Melis, an Oskar Blues spokesman. Oskar Blues opened the additional brewery to increase capacity and to more easily supply the East Coast.

The boom in new craft brewers can help all within the industry, Melis said.

“I think there’s increased competition, but for us I think we’re still a pretty small industry,” Melis said. “As more and more people are opening up breweries, we’re able to tell our story through other people … I think it’s continuing to draw attention to quality beer.”

A Glorious Map Of Craft Beer Across The U.S.

Infographic of the Day as Seen on FastCoDesign.com

Selected as the Infographic of the Day on Fast Company’s web site, this wonderfully created info graphic shows how craft beer has continued to flourish state-by-state. Enjoy this visual map of breweries, consumers and growth across our beer-boasting country.

[button link=”http://craftbrew.cirqlemedia.com/the-invasion-of-craft-breweries-in-the-u-s/” color=”orange”] The Invasion of Craft Breweries in the U.S. – Interactive Map[/button]

Which state makes the most craft beer? California. But that’s only part of the story. Lagunitas makes more than one amazing beer, as does Stone Brewing Co. Today, both of these once-tiny California breweries have blossomed into household names that you can spot on almost any decent tap. But they’re only two of the 316 craft breweries found in the monster state of California, which can boast almost double the craft breweries of the next mightiest beer state, Washington.

It’s one of many factoids you’ll pick up in The New Yorker’s interactive infographic that we have included here Mapping the Rise of Craft Beer. It employs a relatively simple interface–a few toggles and mouseovers–to convey an incredible amount of information, a brown, tan, and yellow state of the union of frothy fuzzyheadedness.

The new craft breweries in 2012.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “I guess I’ve gotta move to California now.” Untrue! A more studied approach to consumption would be to weigh not just how many breweries are in a given state, but how many breweries are in a given state per person. In this regard, Vermont takes the crown. They may only have 25 craft breweries across the state, but with a population of only 626,201 people, that’s the best ratio of man to brewery in the U.S. Or if all-around performance is more your speed, Oregon should probably be your pick. It ranks fourth in variety, fifth in production, and second in breweries per capita.

It’s all enough to make a man wary of the sustainability of the craft beer movement. That is, until he cracks another cold one in the name of supporting the underdog.

[button link=”http://craftbrew.cirqlemedia.com/the-invasion-of-craft-breweries-in-the-u-s/” color=”orange”] The Invasion of Craft Breweries in the U.S. – Interactive Map[/button]

Craft Breweries Top a Record Milestone

U.S. Brewery Count Passes 2500.

A wonderful story from the Brewers Association this week highlights the continued growth, and consumer support of the Craft Beer industry in America.

The number of U.S. breweries continues to climb rapidly. Brewery Detective and Membership Coordinator Erin Glass reported the May 31 U.S. brewery count as 2514. This count is up 422 from the May 31, 2012 count of 2092. The count on May 31, 2011 was 1747. So we are at 767 more breweries in just two years. The annual increase in brewery count from May to May looks like:

2013–2514, an increase of 422 in the past year.

2012–2092, an increase of 345 in the year.

2011–1747, an increase of 132 in the year.

2010–1615, an increase of 93 in the year.

2009–1522, an increase of 63 in the year.

The list includes 24 breweries we code as “large” in our database for A-B, Miller-Coors and breweries named for brands of Goose Island (packaging brewery), Leinenkugel’s and Blue Moon. In addition there are 109 regional breweries, 1214 microbreweries, and 1167 brewpubs.

The number of microbreweries passed the number of brewpubs in February 2013 for the first time since 1987.

Our count of breweries-in-planning is at 1559, up from 1228 a year ago. (But we did purge a couple hundred from the roles last fall and winter.)

It makes me thirsty just to think about our current pace of openings. I wouldn’t expect the rate of opening to continue at over two new breweries per day on average, but it sure looks like I’ll be posting about passing 3000 breweries sometime in 2014. When will this trend crest?

Contributor – Paul Gatza, Brewers Association

8 of the Best Beer Towns in America, 2 Spots Remain

The history of beer in the United States is a rich one dating back to the colonies, when soldiers were paid in spruce beer and cider. From there beer weathered a Revolution, Prohibition and a right turn at Albuquerque before positively exploding with deregulation of the industry through the early 1980s.

Ever since, Americans have been sampling, celebrating and sophisticating the unofficial national beverage in ways previously unimaginable, and it seems nearly every town’s gotten into the act.

But not all cities are carbonated equal. Some have begun to take beer personally, innovating its craft and consumption and throwing festivals to honor the finest ales and lagers — creating a blueprint for the rest of the country to follow. Still others have been doing this all along.

This is the story of those towns, the top eight cities in America for beer explorers. While only 8 made our 2013 Cirqle Media list, we recognize that hundreds of cities from coast to coast and around the globe have a passion and fever for their hometown brew.  I encourage you to list your town and favorite draft or native tap – but be sure to explain why you hold a special spot in your heart for your brew.  You might just make the list to round out our final 10-best cities.

We’ve scored each out of 1-10 for history, breweries, bars and events, and would like to think every one of you will read the whole piece quietly, captions and all, nodding sagely as the indisputable truth of every line hits home. But, this is the Internet and if there’s one place where froth belongs besides the top of your pint of ale, it’s the comment box below.

1. Portland, Oregon

History: 6
Breweries: 10
Bars: 10
Events: 7

Portland boasts more breweries (52) than any city in the world. It’s also America’s largest craft brewing market, with 69 breweries in the greater metro area, owing to state sales regulations that favor consumer tastes over discounts and kickbacks, allowing small brewers to compete with mass marketers.

But the Rose City isn’t just about quantity. PDX is where you’ll find Hopworks Urban Brewery, Alameda Brewing Company, Cascade Brewing, and family-owned Hair Of The Dog, all nationally renowned for their care and creativity.

Fairs like The Oregon Brewer’s Festival, the Portland International Beer Festival, and Portland Beer Week — America’s first organic beer festival — ensure that beer spirit in the city runs high all year, while Biketobeerfest celebrates two things exalted by the region: bikes and beer. Portland is also home to five of Draft magazine’s top 100 craft bars — Saraveza Bottle Shop & Pasty Tavern, Horse Brass Pub, Apex, Bailey’s Tap Room, and Belmont Station.

Top draws: Hopworks Urban Crosstown Pale, Deschutes Hop Trip Ale

2. San Francisco, California

History: 8
Breweries: 9
Bars: 9
Events: 7

The Bay Area is bursting with micro- and nanobreweries that have been experimenting with food-inspired brews like nowhere else. Take Almanac, which uses seasonal produce in its brews, or Moonlight Brewing Company, which picks redwood twigs and cedar bark from brewer Brian Hunt’s own backyard.

There’s history here, too. The sale of Anchor Steam Brewery in the 1960s precipitated the production of several signature beers at a time when mass-marketed light beers were the trend. The following decade saw the opening of New Albion Brewing in Sonoma, the first new brewery in California since Prohibition and the first microbrewery in America.

Following suit have been 21st Amendment Brewery, Speakeasy, Drake’s, Black Diamond and Social Kitchen and Brewery. Notable bars include La Trappe Cafe and The Toronado Pub, which hosts arguably America’s preeminent barleywine festival. And finally, there’s San Francisco’s Beer Week and the San Francisco International Beer Fest.

Top draws: Moylan’s Tipperary Pale Ale, 21st Amendment Brew

3. San Diego, California

History: 5
Breweries: 10
Bars: 9
Events: 8

There are 67 breweries in San Diego and another 13 slated for opening this year. With 60-plus breweries in the county and its own IPA category, San Diego’s a beacon on any beer explorer’s map. For a pint, hit up Jay Porter’s beer-centric restaurant, the Linkery, which offers brew-paired dinners, and Toronado, which boasts an exhaustive beer list.

A trip to San Diego isn’t complete without sampling the suds at Karl Strauss, Ballast Point, Lost Abbey, Green Flash, and Stone Brewing Co., declared by BeerAdvocate magazine the “All-Time Top Brewery on Planet Earth.”

As for events, San Diego was chosen to host the 2012 World Beer Cup — the “Olympics of Beer” — and San Diego Beer Week draws crowds from all over to celebrate 10 days of tastings, pairings and live music. If you visit, don’t miss five San Diego bars mentioned in Draft mag’s top 100 American beer bars: Tiger! Tiger!, Small Bar, O’Brien’s American Pub, Blind Lady Ale House, and Hamilton’s Tavern.

Top draws: Alpine Ale, Lost Abbey Duck Duck Gooze

4. Boston, Massachusetts

History: 10
Breweries: 7
Bars: 8
Events: 7

The first brewery in Massachusetts emerged not long after the Pilgrims dropped anchor, owing to the fact that beer was safer to drink than the water. Though the Pilgrims were aiming for Virginia, they ran out of brew and stopped in Massachusetts — thus a beer town was born.

Eventually, Boston was blessed with a number of microbreweries, including the best-selling craft brewer in America, Boston Beer Co. — producer of Samuel Adams — and Harpoon Brewery. Notable hits on the bar crawl include Cambridge and Cape Ann Brewing Cos., Deep Ellum and The Publick House, alongside historic pubs like Green Dragon, The Warren Tavern (Boston’s oldest) and Sunset Grill & Tap.

With this lively scene, it’s not hard to believe that Boston consumes the most beer per capita in the United States. It’s also home to the American Craft Beer Fest, the East Coast’s largest celebration of domestic micros, featuring 600+ varieties from 125+ American brewers.

Top draws: Harpoon IPA, Beer Works Bunker Hill Blueberry Ale

5. Denver, Colorado

History: 7
Breweries: 8
Bars: 7
Events: 8

Colorado is fourth out of 50 states in breweries per capita, and while there are only a handful in Denver proper, there are loads of notable breweries outside town and in nearby Boulder.

Neighborhoods like Platte Street and the Art District on Santa Fe are peppered with breweries. Elsewhere you’ll find Avery, Renegade, New Belgium, Strange Brewing, Dry Dock and others, including Bull & Bush, which writer Steve Body declared “may well be America’s best brewpub and restaurant.”

Denver’s first craft brewery, Wynkoop, was opened in 1988 by John Hickenlooper, who went on to become mayor, then governor, extending Denver’s brewer reach to the highest levels of government. Both Wynkoop and Great Divide are a moon shot from Coors Field, and homemade beers at Blue Moon Brewing Co. are found just behind section 112 in left field.

The Mile-High City also stages what is widely regarded the largest, most prestigious beer festival in the country, the annual Great American Beer Festival, drawing sudsmeliers from all over the world to taste more than 2,200 brews.

Top Draws: Denver Graham Cracker Porter, Renegade Hammer and Sickle

6. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

History: 9
Breweries: 6
Bars: 8
Events: 7

In the city of brewery love, outfits like Victory, Sly Fox, Nodding Head, Yards and Flying Fish have been vanguards of local brewing since the city’s barley rush of the 1990s. And since 1860, McGillin’s Olde Ale House has been a beloved showcase for those and other local brews longer than any in Philly.

Three less-ancient bars made Draft mag’s top 100 — Eulogy Belgian Tavern, Grey Lodge Public House and Memphis Taproom, which enjoys a sterling reputation despite an endorsement by Guy Fieri. And no beer itinerary is complete without writer Michael Jackson’s favorite spot, Monk’s Cafe, a love letter to Belgian (and other) brews that will awe the savviest palate.

Philly Beer Week is the city’s most hoppening event, but the Greater Northeast Philadelphia Beer Festival, begun in 2011, is already proving a worthy companion. One caveat to all this beer-fueled euphoria: complicated state controls regulate the purchase of packaged beer. Don’t let them kill your buzz.

Top Draws: Yards Philadelphia Pale Ale, Victory Hop Devil IPA

7. Bend, Oregon

History: 5
Breweries: 8
Bars: 8
Events: 8

With one brewery for every 9,111 people, descriptors for Bend include “beervana” and “Beer City, USA.” And that number is constantly changing, with newcomers like Crux Fermentation Project and Worthy Brewing Company recently fattening Bend’s ranks.

Already cemented into Bend beer culture is Deschutes, the godfather of local craft brewing, which recently expanded its flagship location. The Ale Apothecary, like its name suggests, blends modern and old-fashioned brewing techniques for what they’re calling Bend’s only steampunk brewery.

Getting your beer passport stamped at all nine of participating breweries on the Bend Ale Trail will net you a prize, and dog lovers will appreciate Boneyard Beer, where they can try the world’s first organic, non-alcoholic brew made for dogs, Dawg Grogg.

Your itinerary’s bound to overlap at least one of Bend’s annual beer celebrations, like Central Oregon Beer Week, The Little Woody Barrel-Aged Brew & Whiskey Festival, Bend BrewFest, The Fermentation Celebration and Bend Oktoberfest.

Top Draws: Deschutes Inversion IPA, Silver Moon Hound’s Tooth Amber

8. Asheville, North Carolina

History: 5
Breweries: 7
Bars: 7
Events: 9

Yes, Asheville. It’s relatively new to the beer scene, but with 11 breweries yielding the highest per-capita total in the country, it’s already building a global rep. A day trip to Asheville offers a chance to try roughly 50 local beers, almost all of which can be tasted at The Thirsty Monk, a must-see on any Ashevillian beer pilgrimage.

But it’s less the number of breweries or bars here than it is the culture that earns Asheville its cred. There is serious pride in the local craft, and its small-town appeal means all you have to do is roll over and you’ll find yourself in one of the city’s renowned breweries, like Wedge, Green Man and Wicked Weed.

The city also pumps beer into mustards, shampoos, ice creams, cakes, dog biscuits, and soaps. And with at least five major beer events, Asheville keeps the party going all year round with its own Oktoberfest, Beer Week and Winter Warmer, Best Firkin, Beer City and Brewgrass Festivals.

Top Draws: Asheville Shiva IPA, French Broad Ryehopper