20 Best Bars for Beer Geeks Slideshow
September 26, 2011
Ebenezer's Pub (Lovell, Maine)
This destination for craft beer fanatics (and Belgian beer afficionados in particular) is hidden deep in the forests of upstate Maine. Still, anyone who has sampled from its extensive selection (700-plus bottles and 35 Belgian brews on tap) will quickly tell you it's worth the trip.
Toronado Pub (San Francisco)
Our pick for one of the best craft beer bars in America (and a frequent topper on other authorities' lists), this Lower Haight bar is known for its well-curated beer list and unpretentious vibe. Look especially for hard-to-come-by brews from local California breweries.
Publick House (Boston)
Hailed as the best beer bar in Boston by Boston Magazine, this popular spot has you covered on everything from local brews to exotic brands, with 35 taps and an approximate 170 bottles on offer. They also pride themselves on their "cuisine a la biere," a menu of delicious dishes designed to be eaten with beer.
Portsmouth Brewery (Portsmouth, N.H.)
Loyalists have been known to set up camp outside this beloved brewpub for hours in the rain just to get a taste its rare, once-a-year-only Russian Imperial Stout, Kate the Great. The verdict: Totally worth it. Not to mention, beer expert Joshua M. Bernstein called their sampler trays "epic."
Eataly's Birreria (New York City)
Located on the rooftop of New York's Italian specialty food mecca, Eataly, this cool spot is a must-visit for fans of the burgeoning Italian craft beer trend. Not only is it the country's highest brewery on a man-made structure, the project is overseen by some serious industry heavy-hitters: Dogfish Head's Sam Calagione, Birra Baladin's Teo Musso, and Birra del Borgo's Leonardo Di Vincenzo. The three have come together to create three rotating original brews, often inspired by and made with seasonal ingredients from the market downstairs.
ChurchKey (Washington, D.C.)
This bustling bar is a favorite in the city's hop-head scene, making it a formidable opponent against legacy The Brickskeller. The competition mainly drives from their 500 different choices of brews, with 50 different taps running, and five cask ales that are all expertly chosen. The informative, user-friendly menus and knowledgeable bartenders (if you can get their attention), help navigate the large selection so you can find exactly what you need.
The Map Room (Chicago)
Talk about a place that will inspire beer travel wanderlust: The walls here are covered with maps, travel books, and postcards sent to the bar. Beer geeks can choose from a large variety of local and not-so-local microbrews, carefully chosen to fill the bar's 26 taps, in-house cask, and 100-bottle beer list.
Max's Taphouse (Baltimore, M.D.)
Good luck to the indecisive beer geek that comes in for a drink at this much-lauded spot. A frequent beer festival host, expert brew fanatic Casey Hard has helped stock Max's with an enviable selection that includes 100-plus taps, five casks, and more than 1,000 bottles.
Monk's Café (Philadelphia)
This Philadelphia staple is known for having one of the country's best Belgian beer selections (any with doubts about how seriously they take the style need by try the house Flemish Sour Ale). While also known for having a string of bad luck in recent years, the bar's thoughtful collections, highly praised exclusive brews, and authentic Belgian food has kept any chance of business slowing down far away.
The name alone should make this bar a draw to local and visiting hop-heads. The beer selection here is undeniably massive, offering everything from native-to-Chicago selections and American microbrews, to Lambics and Saison-style Belgians. But they go above and beyond by offering a great rotation of lectures and beer pairing dinners.
Falling Rock Taphouse (Denver, Colo.)
You might argue this Denver taphouse has an unfair advantage as an easy favorite given that it is a well-known destination among beer authorities and hop-heads when the Great American Beer Festival is in town. Not without good reason of course, the bar's 75 taps flow with bitter IPAs, stouts, and Belgian-style brews.
The Trappist (Oakland, Calif.)
At this favorite of the West Coast beer community, a 25-tap selection of Belgian brews are always on offer (expertly served at the proper temperature and in the correct glasses, no less). And if you're thirsty for more, there's still the 100-bottle list to peruse and sample from.
Avenue Pub (New Orleans)
Born-in-the-U.S.A. beers are the star at this always-open spot which boasts 47 rotating taps. Home to one of the most comprehensive selections in the Crescent City, it's prone to showing off hard-to-find local brews from NOLA Brewing, Bayou Teche, and Lazy Magnolia.
The Sugar Maple (Milwaukee, Wisc.)
Another bar that tips its hat at the country's craft beer revolution, Sugar Maple proudly offers 60 American craft brews on draft. A star of the city's brewing scene, you'll find a soft focus on local Midwestern brews, and given that the owner is a former bartender of the aforementioned Hopleaf, you can rest assured that the selection is good.
Blind Tiger Ale House (New York City)
This West Village spot is certainly no stranger to "best beer bar" lists, as the 50-plus bottles, 28 rotating taps, and three casks are clearly curated with beer geeks in mind. (Be sure to check out the "Vintage" and "Special Picks" bottle lists.) And as if the beers, top-notch bar food, and regular beer events weren't enough of a draw, don't forget their weekday happy hour lasts from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Horse Brass Pub (Portland, Ore.)
This real-deal English pub with 52-plus brews on tap and countless more bottles proudly shows off its local and West Coast craft beer love. Look for favorites like Deschutes' Twilight Ale, Lompoc's Moster Mash Imperial Porter, and Russian River's Pliny the Elder Double IPA.
Sergio's World Beers (Louisville, Ky.)
With a selection of more than 1,100 beers, this quiet bar and its knowledgeable staff have exactly what you need. That is, if you can find it. The bar has no markings on the outside, a conscious choice by the owner to try to keep the clientele limited to dedicated beer lovers.
Spuyten Duyvel (New York City)
A long-standing favorite in Brooklyn's ever-expanding beer scene, this brew haven has been winning accolades for years now and is still going strong. Although the focus is mainly on Belgian varieties, it expands beyond that with its 140-odd rare bottle collection and rotating hand-pulled cask ale.
Naked City Taphouse (Seattle, Wash.)
Where better to raise a glass to the growing homebrew movement than at this Seattle favorite, known among local beer nerds for its special house brews?
HopCat (Grand Rapids, Mich.)
This bar appears to have it all: a Michigan-centric local beer list, 48 taps, 150 bottles, and a large cask, plus great bar food to absorb all that hoppy goodness. It's worth it to stop in on one of their regular events to learn a few things about local suds, and maybe even meet a few of the brewers.