Today's drinkers become more educated by the day, and the breadth of choices available to them has never been so extensive. This is great for beer lovers and beneficial on the supply side as well, as a high-quality product created by friendly, local brewers means consumers will pay for good beer. It's no longer uncommon for enthusiasts to plan a brewery visit into their vacation.
In fact, the opposite is trending: Plenty of people actually plan their vacations around a great beer destination.
Here are five recommended cities to visit on your beer-based travels.
# Austin, Texas
Brewing sends kegs all over Austin and South Texas. Their Pecan Porter is delicious.
Jester King began brewing farmhouse-style ales in 2009 and quickly developed a loyal following. Although state law prohibits them from selling beer directly to customers, the brewery tour is a fun way to spend an afternoon in the Texas Hill Country.
Live Oak Brewing's focus on a just handful of beer styles pays off: Their hefeweizen is among the best made anywhere.
Drive about hour south on I-35 to Freetail Brewing in San Antonio. Here, you'll find an enjoyable mix of traditional American ales with barrel-aged stouts and wild ales. This may be one of the best breweries in Texas.
# Grand Rapids / Kalamazoo, Michigan
Founders Brewing has mastered the art of producing exceptionally high-quality beer on a macro scale. Their Grand Rapids brewpub is a popular destination.
In Kalamazoo, Bell's Brewery bottles and kegs an impressively diverse range of beers for all tastes. Some of their best work is only found at the brewpub, however, so stop by to see for yourself.
Dark Horse Brewing's fanbase has grown rapidly. Stop in to find out why.
# Detroit / Ann Arbor, Michigan
The Warren suburb of Detroit is home to Kuhnhenn Brewing, a unique brewpub and meadery. Ever had a bourbon barrel-aged Banana French Toast Mead? Here you can.
Jolly Pumpkin's brewpub in Ann Arbor brings this farmhouse brewery's drinks to the city. If you are tired of hoppy beers, try their tart JP brew.
# Fort Collins, Colorado
New Belgium Brewing has a diverse selection of beers. You might not know they were one of the first sour programs in the US, though, so stop by for a tour and a sample or three.
Oskar Blues led the charge to promote canning in the beer industry.
Left Hand Brewing's popular Milk Stout gained them notoriety, and a visit to their home base will prove they aren't a one-trick pony.
# Montpelier area, Vermont
Drive 30 minutes off the highway, turn down a dirt road for a few more miles, and don't be shocked to see that a line has already formed at Hill Farmstead, in nearby Greensboro Bend.
Take a short drive to Waterbury and stop by The Alchemist, where you'll discover the other beers they make are often just as impressive as their excellent Heady Topper.
Head to the seasonal farmer's market in Montpelier or nearby Warren to find imperial stouts and IPAs from Lawson's Finest Liquids.