I guess Portland, Oregon belongs too, but I don’t know it well.
So I just spent about a week and a half in Philadelphia. Often called “America’s Best Drinking City.” Philly does have a magazine for beer “Philly Beer Scene” and a Philadelphia Beer Week. This is pretty awesome.
But, it’s more a place to drink beer out than buy beer. Pennsylvania has strange beer laws where beer is much, much cheaper by case than by 6 pack. You can buy a 6 pack in a bar/restaurant but not a package store where it’s case only.
So sometimes it’s actually cheaper to get a beer on tap than to get it on bottle, which is kind of nuts.
That being said the beer lists in Philadelphia are ridiculously good. Went to the famous Monk’s Cafe, owned by Tom Peters who is often considered the most knowledgable man about Belgian Beer in America. Reminded me a little of Novare Res in a way. Very expensive beers, very high end taps, lots of Belgian beer. Was most impressed by the most excellent mussels that were cooked in Saison Dupont and had all sorts of aromatics. Would go back for the mussels.
Even a dive bar like the Locust Bar has some microbeers and a beer I haven’t had in too long the yummy Yuengling Black and Tan. I wish I bought a case of this over the overrated (to me) Yuengling Lager. The Black and Tan is rich and drinkable, I think it combines the Lager and the Yuengling Porter.
Tria had a great beer list, had the yummy Don de Dieu (Unibroue, Quebec), wish I had the space for a yummy Victory with just one hop. Was also great to see Maine Beer Peeper on tap.
Went into the Boilermaker bar for a moment. They had yet another excellent beer list, but it was just too dark for me (as was Monk’s) and was wicked full of hipsters. Thought about trying it later, but decided against it.
Went to the Good Dog Bar with an old HS friend, and they also had a great beer list. Had a Great Divide Double IPA (CO) .. was good but like my friend Greg I liked the richness, but the taste was harsh. I enjoyed the Philadelphia Beer Kenzinger much, much more. Good flavor and crispness, great session beer. I wish I picked the Yards Philly Pale Ale as the first pour.
And my favorite beer of the week was the delicious Victory Golden Monkey, a very spicy tripel with lots of notes for free with a beer at Tabu. Which was a sports beer/gay bar. The bartender was awesome, and you can’t beat a delicious burger with BBQ sauce, bacon and smoked gouda and a great beer for $7.75. Would totally go back. Especially on a Thursday (the day of the free beer with sandwich).
Comparably, Portland has many bars with great beer selection, but the fact we have 12 breweries in town means our local microbrews take over the beer list often. Of course, Novare Res is known for it’s beer from around the world (especially Belgium) and the Great Lost Bear (my favorite beer bar in town) highlights Maine beer, but also has great out of town beers.
Portland is also a great place to get local beers inexpensively at local package stores and doesn’t have odd case beer laws. Maine does have an issue of having weird laws with out of state beer causing many great beers to not enter the great northeast.
But both towns are great for drinking. Philadelphia is of course a much, much bigger city and probably has more places to get great beer. And Yards, Victory, Troegs, Flying Fish etc. are great breweries.