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13 U.S. Destinations That Are Secretly Hiding Incredible Beer Scenes

13 U.S. Destinations That Are Secretly Hiding Incredible Beer Scenes

By Ezra Johnson-Greenough for Thrillist

Any list of great beer destinations will include the mainstays: San DiegoGrand RapidsBurlingtonAsheville. Both PortlandsSeattle. Basically any city in Colorado. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find your Traverse City, Michigans, and Hood River, Oregons. They’re all great places. You should go to them and drink all their wonderful beer and enjoy their corn hole tables and eat your weight in Bavarian pretzels. But here’s the thing: The big list of Great American Beer Cities has been sitting around stagnating longer than a hard-to-find stout in a beer snob’s cellar (which is actually just a closet).

To add a little freshness to go with our fresh hops, we tapped some of our favorite and most trusted beer writers to identify the best under-the-radar beer destinations around the US this year. Beyond the beer scenes, they’re places we straight-up love that'd be worth a visit even if they weren't drowning in excellent ales. Pack extra growlers: These are the essential trips for beer lovers this year. 

Yakima, Washington

Essential brewery stops: Bale Breaker BrewingSingle Hill BrewingVarietal Beer Co.

At first glance, this rural Central Washington community seems like more of a stopover for agricultural supplies than a thriving beer destination. But step out into the rolling hillside and you'll immediately be smacked with the glorious scent of fresh hops. With 73% of US hop production based in Washington --  and the majority of that coming out of Yakima -- this might just be the low-key most important beer community in America.

Every fall, brewers from around the world converge on the valley to make their annual hop selections while tasting and smelling the newest trendy hop varietals, making it the epicenter of craft beer innovation. And with that comes great breweries, highlighted by combination hop farm/brewery Bale Breaker, a standout for its impeccable IPAs (duh) and a trailblazer among the dozen-plus established and new breweries in the valley. Visit during October for the Yakima Fresh Hop Festival, the largest single showcase of fresh hop beers in the world. Leading up to fest is Yakima Fresh Hop Week: six days of tastings, brewers dinners, and hop-farm parties. For fans of hoppy beers, this is a bucket list pilgrimage. -- Ezra Johnson-Greenough

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Posted February 27, 2020

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