Your guide on where to find the best brew spots in the country.
Travelocity created the index after a survey they conducted last year, where three-fourths of the 1,000-plus participating candidates said they’d like to take a trip that allowed them to explore craft breweries and taste local brews.
The company looked at over 300 U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Areas, basing its list on four factors essential for a "beercation":
- The number of breweries and brewpubs per 1 million residents.
- The availability of rideshare services like Uber or Lyft, or both.
- The number of cities you can get a direct flight from to that area.
- The price of an average room night for the 2015 calendar year.
"The whole idea was try to look at from a much more statistical view rather than opinion-based data since there are a lot of great breweries," said Keith Nowak, director of communications at Travelocity.
"We wanted to look at those cities that have a density that you can tell they have a beer culture starting simply by the amount of breweries you’re seeing in comparison to the size of the city," Nowak told Travel + Leisure.
The top six large metro areas for beer lovers:
1. Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton, Oregon/Washington: With a total of 130 local breweries, visitors to this area can also celebrate the annual Portland Craft Beer Festival in July, which brings exclusive brewers from Portland to enthusiastic beer tasters.
2. Denver-Aurora, CO: Hosting 134 local breweries, this metropolitan area is also the location of the Great American Beer Festival, which brings together the top commercial and home brewers and claims to represent the largest collection of U.S. beer ever served.
3. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Washington: Travelers can enjoy 162 local breweries, or check out the Fremont Oktoberfest in the fall, where they'll be treated to a selection of traditional German beers and Pacific Northwest beers.
4. Portland-South Portland-Biddeford, Maine: Whether exploring one of 27 local breweries in this area or taking the Brewer’s Guilt Maine Beer Trail, which winds you through nearby pubs and breweries, beer-lovers are in for a good time here.
5. Colorado Springs, Colorado: Colorado Springs has 28 local breweries and is also the yearly location of the Springs Beer Fest in August, where more than 50 craft breweries serve up tasty selections.
6. Santa Rosa-Pentaluma, California: Already known for its wine scene, this area also has 25 local breweries and hosts the Sonoma County Beerfest, bringing in over 50 nearby breweries.
The top six small metro areas for beer lovers:
1. Bend, Oregon: Bend boasts the most craft breweries per capita with a total of 28, while its three-day Bend Brewfest brings in a wide variety of popular and rare local beers to sample.
2. Boulder, Colorado: Not only will visitors to Boulder find 40 local breweries to explore, but they can also check out the Boulder Brew Fest, where they can sample beers from 25 craft brewers.
3. Fort Collins-Loveland, Colorado: Sip on a brew at one of the 35 local breweries here, or head to the Colorado Brewers' Festival, where you can choose from more than 90 Colorado beers.
4. Corvallis, Oregon: Those who visit Corvallis in September can enjoy the Corvallis Beer Week, which features brewery tours, tastings, and craft beer events, while the area has nine local breweries to enjoy throughout the year.
5. Missoula, Montana: At the Craft Beer Week in spring, visitors can enjoy special beer releases, boozy brunches with beer and bacon, and even beer trivia competitions.
6. Burlington-South Burlington, Vermont: Besides its 17 local breweries, this area hosts the popular Vermont Brewers' festival, showcasing over 50 breweries.
“As we looked at the numbers, they really lined up with cities that people recognize as leaders in the area,” Nowak said.
Since many of these local breweries often only carry products in or near their location, beer tourism gives travelers the chance to both take part in local experiences but to also engage with local brewers and sample their products.
"Small and independent craft brewers are part of the DNA of their communities," said Julia Herz, craft beer program director at the Brewers Association in a press release. "They are becoming mainstay attractions for travelers," Herz added.
To see the full list of the top 20 small and large metro areas, click here.