The Farmhouse Tap & Grill
When you think of Vermont's finest brews, one beer likely comes to mind, and it rhymes with Heady Topper. And Farmhouse has it! When it's not sold out. But if you're lucky enough, you'll go on a night when it's in stock, along with Alchemist's almost-equally praised Focal Banger. But if you're not lucky enough to score either, you're still pretty damn lucky, as you can select from 30 taps at all three of its bars filled with exceptional VT beers from Lawson's, 14th Star, and Hill Farmstead. And if you're in a sour mood (not the kind that annoys everyone around you -- the kind where you're in the mood to drink a specific type of beer), there's plenty of bottled goodies from Rodenbach, Allagash, and Jolly Pumpkin. Can't believe we got through this entire blurb without mentioning Phish! Ah, shit.
For the tens of thousands of beer bars in America that pair brews and pizza (and we are eternally grateful for each and every one of them), there is exactly one that successfully pairs beer with pho. And that's the beauty of Mekong, which offers up a serious helping of pho and all manner of Vietnamese comfort food alongside a curated beer list. Selecting just which dish to order might be the toughest part of visiting outside of selecting a beer, many of which are from Richmond's The Andall. Not coincidentally, it brews a beer called Good Nightmare Mekong, an imperial stout with Vietnamese coffee beans. VA-based favorites like Strangeways and South Street also make appearances in glasses and bottles.
The Pine Box
OK, so the name referencing this Seattle institution's digs in an old funeral home (where Bruce Lee’s funeral went down, no less) is simultaneously cool and a bit creepy, but such novelty only gets you so far. Having a bar crafted from the old shelves of the crematorium is fun and all, but what’s coming from behind said bar is even MORE fun (specifically, 30-plus taps of extremely well-curated, West Coast-heavy brews). Tack on a pizza (smoked wild boar, anyone?) and it'll be like you've died and gone to heaven, but only in the most happy and figurative of senses.
Yes, DC is not technically a state (which is another argument for another time), but truth be told you could put ChurchKey anywhere in the world and it'd instantly be on the short list of the best places to enjoy a beer, with 55 draft lines and 500-plus bottles that manage to deliver on the utmost quality in addition to quantity. In addition to the expected lineup of domestic limited releases and collabs one would expect from a top-flight beer bar, ChurchKey particularly excels at having its finger on the pulse of what's happening craft-wise overseas as well, allowing you to one-up your friends by saying things like, "I've really been impressed by what's happening in Estonia's beer scene lately" with complete seriousness.
Apothecary Ale House & Café
We’re not going to say that Apothecary's the only beer bar in West Virginia, but it's very much the better of the two beer bars in West Virginia. We kid, we kid. But in a state that's not exactly a craft beer haven, having one decent tap's reason to celebrate. Apothecary has a dozen such reasons to celebrate, ranging from barrel-aged goodness from Bridge Brew Works to Chimay and Sierra, plus 150 bottles that each offer up a counterargument to people who insist it's nothing but moonshine in WV.
At the very best beer bars, the beer itself is simultaneously fantastic and somehow not the best thing about the bar. This is very much the case at Burnhearts, where you'll find a thoughtful, just-right-sized tap list heavy on Wisconsin and Michigan’s finest, plus a deep selection of rare bottles (ask about Carl's Secret Stash). But somehow even more importantly, Burnhearts is impossibly welcoming, devoid of pretension, and the kind of bar where you can feel like you've been a lifelong regular in one afternoon (which will likely end up bleeding into the evening), whether you're playing game after game of shuffleboard in back or chatting up the friendly staff up front. Come February, the (outdoor!) charity-minded Mitten Fest brings in people from all over to enjoy some rare beer, live music, and the fact that Wisconsinites refuse to let winter spoil a good time.
Sidewinders American Grill
Fifteen minutes from the Jackson Hole ski area, a new Grand Adventure Park is opening in June, which will feature a ropes course and mountain biking. But why exert yourself physically when it's so much easier to sit on a barstool and drink beers at Sidewinders, which carries organic brews from nearby Snake River Brewing, plus other WY brews from Roadhouse and Wind River. Keeping with the town's sporty vibe are the 30 TVs typically tuned to the night's games, and carb-laden cuisine designed to fill you up after a long day on the slopes, with dishes like BBQ spare ribs, cowboy mac & cheese, and a chicken pot pie recently featured on Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Which is to say, your mom really wants to go here with you. And for once, there's incentive to join her beyond knowing she'll pick up the bill and drive you back to the hotel before you hit Grand Adventure.
Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, and get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.