10 Best Vacation Cities for Beer Lovers

Fort Collins, Colo.

Colorado has fourth-largest collection of craft breweries in America behind Oregon, Washington  and California and the fourth-most breweries per capita in the U.S., which makes finding a great one relatively easy.

Fort Collins makes a great base of operations thanks to breweries as bold as the Belgian-inspired Funkwerks and its Saison or the prolific Odell Brewing and its Woodcut oak-aged ales and sublime 90 Shilling Scottish ale. We'd be remiss if we didn't mention New Belgium Brewing , which has been cranking out tasty brews such as its Fat Tire Amber Ale and Ranger IPA for 20 years, but also hosts the Tour de Fat bike festival, Bike-In Cinema summer film series for cyclists and its Urban Assault Ride bicycle scavenger hunts.

It's all south from there, as Left Hand Brewery in Longmont has a tasting room teeming with taps of its signature Milk Stout, BlackJack Porter and Wake Up Dead Stout, while nearby Oskar Blues facilities crank out cans of Dale's Pale Ale and Old Chub Scottish on sites that include include a 50-acre farm, a brewpub and music venue called Oskar Blues Home Made Liquids and Solids and the Tasty Weasel Tap Room with live music, skee ball, small-batch brews and brewery tours.

From Longmont, it's decision time. Do beer lovers head south to Boulder for a one-city circuit of breweries including Asher Brewing , Boulder Beer , Mountain Sun , Upslope and heavy hitter Avery Brewing for its cans of White Rascal Witbier or Joe's American Pilsner? Do they head even farther down Interstate 25 to Denver for a Hercules Double IPA at Great Divide Brewing ? Given the gorgeous views in each direction, it's tough to lose.

Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo, Mich.

As we discovered firsthand, the Big 10 rivalry between Michigan and Wisconsin expands well beyond the football field.

The roughly 50-mile stretch between Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo and its roughly eight to nine breweries (depending on the geographic leeway given by the person asked) constitute the heart of Michigan craft brewing, as do the two biggest breweries within it: Bell's and Founders.

Kalamazoo-based Bell's has become one of the Top 10 craft brewers in the country by volume, and its Oberon Pale Wheat Ale is a summer staple. Its brewery tour, Eccentric Cafe brewpub and live music venue and sponsorship of events, including the Ore to Shore mountain bike race after-party and Bayview Mackinac sailing race earlier this month, keep a visitor's attention once that first pint is gone.

Bell's has some friendly craft brewing neighbors in Battle Creek's Arcadia Brewing and Kalamazoo's Olde Peninsula Brewpub , but there's a bigger payoff about an hour north on Route 131 in Grand Rapids. Founder's Brewing has become as well known for high-powered concoctions such as its 12% alcohol by volume Devil Dancer Triple IPA and 7.2% ABV Centennial IPA as it has for its hard-to-find breakfast stouts that have a sad habit of disappearing from shelves as soon as they're stocked.