Okay, these things are pretty easy to pick apart because no one will ever agree on where the “best” or “top” destinations are for anything, beer or otherwise. I understand that top x lists are very popular. Hell, I enjoy making them myself. They can be fun. But take a look at what the Travel Channel, written by NYC-based travel writer Jimmy Im, has chosen as the Top 7 Beer Destinations.
- Asheville, North Carolina
- Los Angeles’ Popular Breweries
- Virginia’s Lagers and Ales
- Toronto’s Craft Breweries
- Finger Lakes, New York’s Beer Hub
- Atlanta’s New Brews
- Traverse City, Emerging Beer Town
So while I’m sure none of the places he’s listed are bad beer destinations, and certainly a few of them deserve to be on this list, I have a hard time accepting these as the very top destinations. The list strikes me as being from someone who’s not really connected to the beer community in any meaningful way. If they had only resisted calling them the top beer destinations and called them instead something like “seven beer destinations worth visiting” that might have worked, but they didn’t. Im specifically states that “these destinations that are fast becoming beer scene kings that offer some of the best suds in town.”
So while I have no problem with Asheville being here, ignoring Philly, Portland (both Oregon and Maine), San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle, Denver, Boston, Chicago and several others makes this list more infamous for what it’s left out than what was chosen. Certainly L.A. is an up and coming beer city, and has made great strides over the last few years, but I’m not sure I’d put it as the second-best beer destination, especially over so many others left out. And he singles out the Strand Brewing Co. and El Segundo Brewing Company as “two of the more popular breweries.” No disrespect to those two breweries — I haven’t been to either of them but I’m sure they’re fine places — but those are not the L.A breweries that are making a splash lately.
Third is the entire state of Virginia, and Im seems to have chosen the Old Dominion State because it’s “so obsessed with its beer culture, it is officially naming the month of August ‘Virginia Craft Brew Month'” and now has 40 breweries. Well July is Oregon Beer Month and February is California Beer Month. Oregon has over 160 breweries and California around 325. So while Virginia is a terrific state and undoubtedly has some fine breweries, if obsession, state beer months and the number of breweries is his criteria, then I’m just not sure Virginia is the right one to choose.
The remaning four, Toronto, the New York Finger Lakes, Atlanta and Traverse City, Michigan, again I’m sure are all fine beer places, but do they deserve to be among the “top 7?” By choosing Toronto, he’s also opened the door to other international beer destinations, of which there are numerous examples, many of which most people would choose over some of the destinations on the Travel Channel’s list. With the last one, Traverse City, Im seems even to have forgotten his own mandate, when he refers to the Michigan town as an “emerging beer town.” It may well be, but shouldn’t we wait until it’s emerged before putting it on the list of the top spots?
So while these things are, as I alluded to, very subjective and depend greatly on how you define the criteria used to rank them, these choices wouldn’t pass muster for even a casual beer lover. It could have been a fun list if they’d only resisted the temptation to declare them the “Top 7 Beer Destinations.” They’re just not.