Balls and brews: 10 great craft beer and golf vacations

The next best thing to a city dotted with golf courses is one with a great selection of craft beer breweries and brewpubs.

Nothing tastes better than a cold beer after a round. We're not just talking about any beer, either. Craft beers -- which are painstakingly brewed for maximum flavor, aroma and appearance -- are the best way finish a day of birdies or three putts.

Here are 10 cities with fantastic golf and beer offerings:

1. San Diego

Billing itself as the "Craft Beer Capital of America," San Diego has more than 100 breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs, including four breweries among the 50 largest craft brewers in the U.S. It also has major festivals such as San Diego Beer Week (in November) and San Diego International Beer Competition (in June). It's a golf capital as well with more than 90 golf courses in San Diego County. Suggested places to play: Aviara , The Crossings at Carlsbad , Maderas Golf Club , Sycuan Golf Resort and Twin Oaks Golf Course .

2. Portland, Oregon

Known as "Beervana," Portland helped propel the craft beer movement back in the early 1980s. Today, there are more than 65 breweries with more opening up each year. There are brewpubs in every part of the city, so you can always find a good IPA easily. Suggested places to play: The Reserve Vineyards-North & South , Stonecreek Golf Club , Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club-Ghost , The Resort at the Mountain and OGA Golf Course .

3. Milwaukee

Beer is what made Milwaukee famous. The mega-breweries are gone, but they've been replaced by a long list of superb brewpubs such as the Milwaukee Ale House, Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery, Horny Goat Hideaway and Old German Beer Hall. Suggested places to play: Edgewood Oaks and Pines , The Bog and Broadlands Golf Club .

4. Denver

The Coors Brewery -- located 12 miles from Denver -- has a fantastic tour and put Colorado beer on the map. A plethora of craft beer makers are enhancing its image. Excellent places for a microbrew are Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project, Rock Bottom Brewery, Falling Rock Taphouse and Ale House at Amato's. Suggested places to play: Arrowhead Golf Club , Colorado National Golf Club , Lone Tree Golf Club and Ridge at Castle Pines North .

5. Tampa, Fla.

With nearly 30 craft breweries in the bay area, you don't have to travel far for a great beer after a round. Some of the more popular suds spots are Cigar City Brewing, Tampa Bay Brewing Company and Dunedin Brewery. Suggested places to play: Temple Terrace , Copperhead at Innisbrook , TPC Tampa Bay and Lake Jovita Golf & Country Club .

6. Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn.

Dozens of brewpubs are available in the Twin Cities. If you have some extra energy after golf, try the Craft Beer Bike Ride, an eight-mile long trek that includes several breweries. Suggested places to play: Bluff Creek Golf Course , Deer Run Golf Club , Mississippi Dunes Golf Links and Albion Ridges Golf Course .

7. Tacoma, Wash.

Tacoma's craft beer scene has boomed in the past five years, and there are now 15 craft beer breweries in the area. You'll find the most draught beers at Engine House No. 9, which has 23 taps. Suggested places to play: Chambers Bay , Salish Cliffs Golf Club , Allenmore Public Golf Course , Brookdale Golf Club and Golf Club at Hawkes Prairie Links .

8. Philadelphia

Voted one of "The Five Best Beer Cities in America" by GQ Magazine, Philly has a slew of great places to drink craft beer. Popular watering holes include Dock Street, Manayunk Brewery, Tired Hands and Round Guys. Suggested places to play: Downingtown Country Club , Inniscrone Golf Club , Lederach Golf Club and Wyncote Golf Club .

9. San Francisco

Home to the annual San Francisco International Beer Festival, the City by the Bay has a well developed craft beer scene with top brew havens such as Mikkeller Bar, Monk's Kettle and Tornado heading the list of options. Suggested places to play: TPC Harding Park , Crystal Springs Golf Course and Sharp Park Golf Course .

10. Seattle

Exceptional hops from the Yakima Valley, two hours east of Seattle, help make Seattle's craft beers great tasting and popular. Favorite brew spots include Hale's Ales, Pike Brewing Company, Elysian Brewery and Fremont Brewing Company. Suggested places to play: Druids Glen , Gold Mountain (Cascade Course and Olympic Course ), McCormick Woods Golf Course and White Horse Golf Club .

Ed Schmidt, publisher of The Golf Travel Guru Blog, is the author of two books on Florida golf and more than 2,500 articles and columns on golf resorts, courses and destinations around the world. Follow Ed on Twitter at @golftravelguy.
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Balls and brews: 10 great craft beer and golf vacations
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