First of all, writers and publications are obviously allowed to state their opinions. But, sometimes…opinions are just wrong.
I try to leave rankings, lopsided polls, and the such alone…but yesterday’s article in Men’s Journal calling out the top five beer towns in the US got under my skin. Here are their top five:
1) San Diego
2) New York City
3) Portland (OR)
Before I get into it, this commenter gets it right:
Take it with a grain of salt, I’m glad SD is #1 (yes, I’m from SD) but I’m sure there will be an article soon saying that another city is # 1, oh well, it is just ratings… As long as you are happy with your local beer and have plenty of it, what’s the problem.
He is for sure correct. There are polls/lists like these everywhere that I don’t agree with. But, like I said…this one got under my skin for some reason.
Are all of those very good beer cities? From what I’ve heard, they sure are. I’ve never been to San Diego at all, and I’ve never been to NYC for an honest-to-God “beer trip”. I’ve spent just a couple of weekends in Philly. But, I grew up around Chicago and lived downtown for several years, and I’ve been to Portland quite a few times (going again this Friday!).
In my humble opinion, there are two big things wrong with this list:
1) Portland should be #1. The blog “Dave Knows: Portland” has a piece on exactly what stats the article took liberty with and got wrong. Like I said, I’ve never been to San Diego…I have a friend who just moved there, and I’m highly looking forward to visiting. The SoCal area churns out tons of great beer, no question about it. But, when it comes to “beer culture”, all the article states is the # of breweries (which, they got wrong). There is a lot more to beer culture than that. Portland breathes beer, and it’s obvious just about anywhere you go…not just in certain focused beer bars. When looking beyond stats, I just don’t get how anyone that has been to Portland can say that anywhere else in the country (including my beloved Seattle) has a better beer scene.
2) Seattle should be in the top five. Yeah, I know…I’m biased. But, Chicago? Come on. I can’t make a comment on NYC, but I’d put Seattle just behind Portland and up there with Philly. I love Chicago as a city. I miss the hell out of it. But, beer culture? Breweries? Still far behind Seattle. I hear it’s getting there…but Seattle kicks Chicago’s ass with our hands tied behind our backs. There are some great, great beer spots in Chicago…Map Room, Piece, Hop Leaf, Goose Island, and Sheffield’s are all top-notch. But, not even close to the volume Seattle has…and Chicago is just a wee-bit larger of a city. Also, please tell me which 20 breweries and brewpubs are located in Chicago as the article claims? I can think of Goose Island (2 locations), Piece, and Rock Bottom (one of the better ones in the country). Where are these magical 15 some breweries that I can’t think of?
If I had to sum up why Seattle should be included in the top five:
Seattle’s mix of outstanding local breweries and world-class beer bars put it in the top five conversation not even taking anything else into consideration. About 20 breweries/brewpubs are located within the city limits, and if you extend the count to the Puget Sound area (as the Men’s Journal article seems to do for Chicago and SD), then we’re talking probably twice that. Brouwer’s Cafe, Uber Tavern, Collins Pub, Stumbling Monk, Naked City Taphouse, Beveridge Place Pub, and The Dray are just the tip of the iceburg when it comes to great beer bars in this city. As far as beer awareness and overall preference in Seattle, there are more tap handles for Mac & Jack’s African Amber than for any other beer. Most bars don’t even bother to carry a tap for any “BMC” beers. Even most high-end restaurants in Seattle have figured out that people want good, local craft beer. Beer festivals? Yeah, we’ve got tons of them. Bottle shops? I can think of at least five in Seattle that pretty much sell nothing but great beer (and a little wine); not to mention our grocery stores even have outstanding selections (Thriftway, QFC, Whole Foods come to mind). Moving to Seattle opened up my eyes for craft beer, living in Chicago… I barely even noticed the scene was there.
Anyone have anything to add? Reasons why I’m wrong?