But in the quest for a headline – and to incidentally promote its other activities – the Money.co.uk website has given it a go. Working on the three measures of price, brewery density and bar density, it lists the top three as Asheville (in North Carolina), Prague and Krakow, with major craft beer destinations such as Denver, San Francisco and yes, London, way down the list.
What they’ve done is to take brewery numbers from Ratebeer, venue counts from TripAdvisor, and the average price per pint from cost-of-living tracking site Numbeo.
Those who know the US scene will not be surprised by presence there of Asheville, a party-town full of small breweries, nor I suspect by Fort Collins, where 20+ craft brewers, most notably New Belgium and Odell, have grown in the shadow of a massive Budweiser factory. Prague and Krakow, on the other hand, benefit more from low beer prices and thriving nightlife.
Pricing – or rather the extortionate rate of beer tax in the UK – is a big part of what pushes London to an absurd 39th out of 40. And that’s despite London having more than twice as many breweries as any other city on the list, and being second only to Tokyo in its number of venues. Well, that and the fact that Money’s analyst has normalised by population, which drops sprawling London down below even Antwerp and Anchorage on "Breweries per 10,000 people".
Re-sorting the full list of 40 cities it’s interesting to see other effects apparently at work. For example, craft beer meccas such as Portland Oregon, San Diego and Denver report beer prices around $6 a pint, while in the likes of Kansas City and Milwaukee it’s nearer $4.
Is that because more people in the latter two drink cheaper macro, or because they’re less fashionable and wealthy areas, so prices are lower? I don’t know – although a quick look at Numbeo suggests that its data may not be the most reliable as it merely quotes average prices for “domestic” and “imported” beers. This is a crappy old Americanism from the days when the typical menu choice was Bud/Miller/Coors for Joe Regular, and Heineken or Amstel for Joe Posh.
It’s all a bit of fun though, and it certainly generates a few ideas for places to visit, as well as a picture of what you can expect to be charged in different countries around the world. Just don't take Money's promotion of debit cards as gospel – cash remains king in many places, including Germany where pre-pandemic habits are reasserting themselves.
Let's rephrase it them: what’s your favourite city for beers, and why?
The city I happen to be in at the time.ReplyDelete
Rather a tricky question, but I have several favourite beer cities. Top of my list would be Bamberg, for the sheer diversity of the city’s breweries and pubs, but Prague also features, as does Munich.ReplyDelete
Beers from the Bavarian capital’s “Big Six” breweries, might not be the most exciting, but when enjoyed under the summer sun, in one of Munich’s wonderfully atmospheric beer gardens, I can think of few things better.
I also took a closer look at that list and was disappointed to see London appearing so low (No. 39 out of 40). Krakow at No.3 is also surprising, and whilst I was impressed from my Sept. 2019 visit, with what the city has to offer in terms of pubs, bars and breweries, I think it’s a little premature to place it so high in the ratings.
There are quite a few other cities I would like to visit, that are on that list, once we’re allowed to go travelling again.
Much as I love Bamberg - we were there a year ago - I wouldn't have called it diverse!Delete
Your point about sunny beer gardens is a great one though, and also explains some of the attraction of Bamberg. It's the whole terroir thing. isn't it? Beer often tastes best in the surroundings it belongs to, so to speak.
And yes, city rankings are indeed weird! So much depnds on the measures you choose and how you weight them. For example, I'd increase the weighting for brewery numbers (=variety of local choice) and decrease price.