The 33 Best Beer Bars in the Country
Any bar worth its pretzel salt has at least a beer or two at the ready. These are not those bars. These are bars for serious beer people: places where home brewers flock for inspiration and where the beer world’s best artisans roll out their experimental and hard-to-find suds. You’re not going to find breweries on here (we’re looking for a diversity of product), or necessarily bars with the most beers (we went for quality over quantity). Anyway, enough small talk. Here are the 33 best beer bars in the US. Slainte, pass the pretzels, and -- as always -- let us know what we missed in the comments:
You had to expect New Orleans would do its beer bars a little differently, and -- truly -- imbibing at The Avenue Pub is a drinking experience you won't quite find anywhere else. For one thing, it's open 24/7, which can be both a blessing and a curse. The worn mid-19th century building and sprawling, shutter-backed roof deck give you the sense that people have been imbibing here for generations. While they draw hard-to-find selections from all over the country into their 43-strong tap lineup, make sure you get a round or two of the local stuff as well, like a sessionable Red Beans and Rice Ale recently rolled out by local upstart 40 Arpent.
Named for the traces of foam (aka "Belgian Lace") left behind on the glass after downing a beer, as well as the tasty encased meats they sell to keep you upright after downing said beer, Bangers & Lace has made a name for itself with an impeccable, Cicerone-curated 32-handle tap list that offers everything from hard-to-find Midwest collabs to overseas rarities. To sample the finest of what they have on tap, get a tasting flight of the "six-pack", an antique keg cooler adjacent to the bar holding some of the day's most interesting offerings (and a motley crew of taxidermied critters perched atop it).
Too lazy to go out for beer? Not to worry, Scottish brewers James Watt and Martin Dickie, makers of The End Of History (one of the highest ABV beers ever at 55%) are bringing the malt madness to you. How will they one-up themselves from a first season filled with lobster beer and suds baths? Watch the trailer here and catch the season premiere on Wednesday at 9|8c on Esquire Network.
Half bottle shop and half beer bar, walking into Belmont Station is like walking into a museum, or a temple to the God of Hops (Hopseclese?): With 1,200 bottles crammed into a shop the size of your average convenience store, you can spend hours staring at beers from throughout the world... and drinking them on-site. Whether it’s a bottle of a rare lambic or a bomber of a seasonal from local brewers like Breakside and Hair of the Dog, if it's available on the West Coast, it's here. There's also an adjoining biercafe (and huge patio) serving up one-offs from local brewers and hard-to-find imports, in case you prefer your rare beers in a pint rather than a bottle.
If you're a beer, Blind Tiger is like your Cheers -- everybody knows your name (and pretty much everything else about you). The bartenders at this warm, wood-festooned brew den are über knowledgeable about every type of beer there is, from their ever-changing 30+ craft drafts to their countless bottles and all others beyond. Their house list features some intriguing suds from all over the world (barrel-aged ales, sour Belgian lambics, and vintage beers), but their drafts have an American focus, and you can usually find some otherwise-elusive West Coasters on there (no, we're not talking about Johnny Depp). They're also spitting mad game with their food menu, which is constantly evolving in accordance with their in-stock beers and features some of the city's best wings, in addition to several other killer small plates.
Located beneath a still-glowing “Restaurant” sign that has adorned this historic Warehouse District building since it was a destination for departing WWII troops, Brewmasters is now part of a very different war: the one on your liver and cholesterol. This is a place where everything, including candied bacon, comes by the pint. But you’re here for the beer, and the island of a bar is stocked with dozens of craft cans (Oskar Blues is particularly prominent) and 60+ taps, with special attention paid to NC brewers like Big Boss, Deep River, and Duck-Rabbit. If that’s not enough to prove the local love, the joint also allows local home brewers to take the spotlight some nights, fostering the future of NC’s booming brewery scene.
With its chandelier-lit ambiance and a menu that eschews local mainstays like toasted ravioli and Provel for charcuterie and cheese boards, you’d be forgiven for thinking Bridge is a wine bar… because it is. And a damn fine one. But it’s also the city’s best beer bar, with a 200+ bottle selection and 55 taps that rotate local favorites like Civil Life and a vast selection of Belgium’s finest. It’s the perfect place for wine and beer snobs to find common ground, and while it’s a bit more upscale than most bars on the list, it’s important to note that cheese doesn’t need to be melted on a burger to go well with beer.
It only takes one glance at the draft list from the undisputed capital of the capital's craft beer scene to know they're serious, with 50-plus selections broken down by style, with such pertinent info as type of glassware (yes, there's a picture key) used and serving temp meticulously laid out. If you want your decision to be even more difficult, you can peruse the voluminous 29-page bottle menu via candlelight, but if you confine yourself to the well-priced 4oz draft pours you might at least make a dent in the deep-cut draft selections that range from dry-hopped cask IPAs to Burgundy barrel-aged sours from Norway.
Since opening in 2012, this self-proclaimed "Beer Filling Station" has become a fixture within the bourgeoning DFW beer scene on the strength of its Texas-heavy draft list featuring pours like Numb Comfort (a barrel-aged barleywine from nearby Deep Ellum). Come for the frequent specialty tapping events and friendly vibe, but don't forget to grab a to-go growler when you leave. As their name suggests, they do them right, selling seemingly every size and style under the sun and filling them via a high-tech CO2 injecting system that keeps them fresher longer. And if you really like beer, they also sell extras, like an attachment that'll let you turn that growler into a lamp.
Located in the heart of a quaint neighborhood-turned booming bar district, Craft Pride reclaimed the curly and longleaf pine from the previous Rainey Street tenants and turned it into a temple to Texas beer. The 54 taps and two casks all spew Texan suds that are available in tasting flights or served in imperial glasses to allow for a proper foamy head. Expect a rotating cast of local rarities and don't forget to order one of the 33 best pizzas in the country from the trailer in back, which you can eat on-site or with a to-go beer from Craft Pride's amazing bottle shop.
With more than 700 bottles available and a huge tap selection of Belgian rarities and favorites, Ebenezer’s has about 1.5 different beers stocked for each of its tiny hometown’s residents. No list of beer bars in the entire world is complete without Ebenezer’s, which has become Lovell’s star attraction, though stepping inside the place, you’d be forgiven for mistaking it for one of the many farmhouses that double as bars in the Belgian countryside. This is comfort drinking at its best, in a secluded house in the pines where you can explore a world of beer -- including the bar’s signature Black Albert and enough Trappist ales to fill a monastery.
The beauty of El Bait Shop is that it appears to be the kind of bar you’d find in Anytown, USA. The walls are covered in beer ephemera and taxidermy. Big Buck Hunter is a primary light source. The menu features fried everything, including wings by the pound and Iowa’s famous tenderloin sandwich. Oh, and it also happens to have the largest selection of American craft brews in the country, with 150 bottles and 120 taps pouring selections from Portland, OR to Portland, ME… and everywhere in between. There’s also an outdoor patio with its own bar, in the event that you need to get a little fresh air without slowing down your personalized tour of the American craft brewing movement.
Beer is the drink of choice at this bar co-owned by Top Chef Masters contestant Jennifer Jasinski, which pairs a variety of local and not-so-local beers with “international pub cuisine” handcrafted in-house: everything from sausages and pickles to schnitzels and spaetzles. Expect “classic, Old World beers” from Belgium and Germany, as well as Denver-area favorites like Black Shirt Brewing's red ales and an exclusive sour from New Belgium.
It's not news to anyone who pays attention to craft beer that some of the best breweries are in Colorado, so it makes sense that for one of the best beer bars, you have to go to Denver. Falling Rock leverages their owner's 30+ years in the beer business to fill out 30-40% of their 90 taps with stellar CO beers you'd have a hard time finding elsewhere, as well as other assorted goodies from the around the country (and some Belgian beers for good measure). Despite the bar being open for less than 20 years, it feels like stepping into an Old World pub, albeit one with a special vintage bottle menu -- you have to ask for it -- that has Belgian selections worth breaking out the wallet for.
The iconic LA spot has two locations, both of which are renowned for their great beer program -- Russian River holds court alongside Euro imports and other rotating stars -- and a burger that regularly gets placed among the nation’s best. But the newer Culver City one beats out its older brother by pouring out an amazing selection of lovingly curated beers -- catering to beer lovers and geeks alike -- and offers them up on a sprawling patio loaded with picnic tables. In a city where outdoor seating is key, Father’s Office is the big daddy.
While its craft beer bar iteration only dates back to 2006, the location that houses Hamilton's has been slinging suds for more than 75 years, and possesses San Diego's oldest license to sell beer. The owners transformed it into a craft haven after replacing a dive bar named Sparky's, but the place still has a dive's soul (pool, shuffleboard, a stellar jukebox, and tap handles hung from the ceiling). Throw in the steady influx of serious beer from San Diego's stellar brew scene (and the best of everywhere else, too), and you'll find yourself wanting to stick around another 75 years.
This beloved St. Paul destination offers 76 lines of craft beer inside a former fire station from the late 1800s. They're staunch supporters of the local craft scene, which makes the many brews from Surly, Fulton, and Steel Toe a given. But they're also pulling from the country's best breweries, like Lagunitas, Odell, and Clown Shoes. Visit in the Summer to take advantage of the “Minnesota patio experience” and soak up the sun, or in March for the Firkin Fest that features 30-40 breweries, both local and national. No matter when you go, pair a beer with the Game Burger, a delicious mash-up of bison and elk topped with bacon and a lingonberry aioli.
The Houston bar's tap list checks in at an impressive 76, but this isn't one of those places just trying to run up the score with average selections. The thoughtfully curated assembly is broken down into categories even a non-aficionado can understand (Sociable & Refreshing, Sour & Fruity, etc). Do yourself a favor and nab something from the quintet of casks hand-selected by the owner. Or do yourself another favor, and stop by for happy hour on their welcoming patio to enjoy $3 pints of beers that you have no business paying $3 for.
Since opening in 2008, HopCat has become the beer bar go-to for a region that is serious about its suds. The success and accolades have been such that a second East Lansing location has already popped up, and outposts in Detroit and Indianapolis are in the works as well. But you won't get any mega-chain vibes here -- just 48 taps that're heavy on Mitten-state brews (Founders and Brewery Vivant are right there in town). The staff is steadfastly knowledgeable without making you feel bad about your lack thereof. Soak everything up with some Crack Fries -- perfectly sliced, spiced, and beer-battered. Get a side of cheese for dipping -- you're in the Midwest, after all.
One of the Windy City's OG bars for serious beer (opened in 1992), Hopleaf has been steadily drawing patrons from all over the city and beyond to the North Side neighborhood of Andersonville thanks to their encyclopedic beer selection (specializing in Belgian offerings, but don't sleep on their stateside lineup either) and incomparable, heaping servings of moules frites. A 2012 expansion, which nearly doubled its size, alleviated the crowds somewhat, without alleviating the cozy, "I could drink here forever", Old World charm that made it such a draw in the first place.
The late and legendary Don Younger had never been to England when he opened the Horse Brass, so it’s pretty amazing that he created the best and most authentic British pub West of the pond. The wood-covered bar is dark, dank, and cavernous. The fish and chips are Oregon’s best. The Scotch eggs are baseball-sized wonders. The whiskey’s served with a scowl if you ask for it mixed with anything but ice, and the 50+ taps offer the best-curated selection in the city known as Beervana. There’s no board naming what’s on tap at this pitch-perfect watering hole. Just a list, printed off weekly, on which the selections are crossed off as the kegs blow, only to be replaced by another rare or one-off selection from one of the Pacific Northwest’s myriad breweries. The only inauthentic touch? The beers are cold. Thank God.
70+ beers dominate a draught menu divided up unpretentiously by simple flavor profiles – “Tart and Funky”, “Crisp”, “Fruit and Spice” -- at one of the South’s finest drinkeries... a place that, between the cobblestone streets outside and stone/brick walls inside, kind of looks like it should be full of slurring Hobbits. Luckily, the staff knows their stuff (in regard to beer, not Orcs or obscure Led Zeppelin songs). Give them a clue of what you like, then order up a flight. They’ll work their magic. They also showcase a good number of local breweries -- Cahaba, Avondale, Trim Tab -- and feature the city’s biggest covered patio. In a region known for its back porches, that really says something.
Though places like the Publick House, Deep Ellum, and Sunset deserve worthy nods in the beer bar category in Boston, Lord Hobo is our current favorite, and not just because that name is kind of the best. Their 40 draughts are eclectic (maybe you’d like to try a sour Berliner Weisse or a Spanish pale ale or a smoked porter with chipotle peppers) without being overly precious, and their beer cheese, dosas, and damn delicious popovers ensure you won’t have to go home with just a belly of beer.
Outside of LeBron, Akron's pride and joy is this comfort food and booze Mecca, with 150 bottles, 12 taps, and grilled cheese sandwiches that kids would be weirded out by. The bottle list is split between local (Great Lakes Brewing from nearby Cleveland), national (Founders, plenty of Bell's), and international (Belgian beers like Corsendonk, plus five different Unibroue labels). Pair any of those beers with one of their six grilled cheeses, like the pepper jack and sautéed jalapeño-stuffed variety on a three-cheese miche bread. And it comes with blue cheese on the side, in case that wasn't enough cheese for you.
It arrived last year to great fanfare and hype, and then somehow, improbably, it was better than even imagined. The first US version of the famous Copenhagen bar, Mikkeller has 42 beers on tap (including four only-at-this-spot Mikkellers -- try the Tenderloin IPA) all controlled by a magical box that keeps each beer’s level of nitrogen and carbon dioxide specific to what’s best for said beer. That they’ve also got a secret downstairs sour room and specialized foodstuffs that pair really damn well with all those beers is just icing on their delicious cake filled with crazy oak-aged wild ales.
Back in the '80s, owner Tom Peters had to convince people to spend $8 on a bottle of Chimay -- nowadays, Monk's has little trouble finding people who want to drink from their 300+ bottles, mostly from Belgium. With antique Belgian beer signs hanging on the wall, the vibe is based on some of Peters' favorite cafes in the European country. The 20 seasonal, mostly Belgian brews on tap pair nicely with the elevated pub food that has achieved local acclaim, like the stout-braised lamb shank and Thai curry mussels made with Monk's own Flemish sour. In addition to more well-known Belgian breweries' wares that're offered, Monk's also features some of the newer kids on the brewery scene there, including ones that even some of his customers from Belgium have never heard of.
Unlike some beer bars in the city, the bartenders at MK actually seem excited when you don’t know a beer and are eager to teach you. And they could teach you a lot: They carry a list of 200 rotating beers (24 on draft, 165 in the bottle, and 15 vintage selections from the cellar) that pair extremely well with their handsome grub, including the cornmeal-fried oysters and the pretzel knot. Go early though -- the place is small and tends to fill up by 6pm on weekdays with people eager to drink sour ales, black saisons, and even -- gasp! -- pilsners.
Located in an old funeral home, and helmed by a serious Seattle beer industry vet, this vaulted beer emporium's slinging mostly West Coast suds (Pike, Lagunitas, Anderson Valley, among others) from behind a U-shaped bar built using shelves that once held ashes in the crematorium, and decorated with a poster of Bruce Lee, whose funeral was held there in 1973. Pour out a sip for the Dragon from a selection of beers that changes daily, but save some to wash down the incredible porcini & rosemary popcorn and pizza... just don't think too hard about the origins of the oven in a former funeral home.
This converted convenience store has taken fridge spaces formerly reserved for Gatorade and Steel Reserve and packed each slot with a unique craft beer -- 550+ choices, each of which owner Julian Siegel can probably describe right down to the yeast. There are also 20 taps offering small-release local drafts from the likes of Miami Brewing Co., Funky Buddha, and Due South, which you can drink inside or out (and with a game of Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots). The place also hosts beer school and home-brew contests. Last, but kind of the best, you can just keep getting up and getting beer from the coolers. When you’re done, just bring the empties to the counter and pay up. Honor bars, apparently, aren’t dead.
When you get to Sergio's, you might not be entirely sure you've gotten to Sergio's, with its unassuming sign-less exterior and windows covered with flags from around the world. Once you get inside you might not be entirely sure what's going on, either: the furniture's mismatched, and there are coolers everywhere. But once you start taking in all the tap handles, glassware, and bottle upon bottle (as in roughly 1,200 of them) of amazing beer, you'll feel like you've stepped into the secret basement hideaway of the world's biggest beer geek -- which is kind of true. Brazilian-born owner Sergio Ribenboim has been traveling the globe for decades making connections with brewers and amassing an unparalleled collection. Bring cash. Ask about what's on tap. Prepare to stay a while.
With a clean, coffee-house vibe, a friendly-but-knowledgeable staff befitting one of America's most storied beer states, and an unassailable all-American 62-strong tap list to match, you won't find any of Milwaukee's most famous brews at the Sugar Maple. What you will find is a boatload of options from Badger State outfits like New Glarus and Central Waters (and other Midwestern standouts like Three Floyds), a sunny patio (sometimes, this is Wisconsin after all), and the option to get four 6oz pours of anything for a paltry $12. Get to work.
Smack dab in the middle of OKC’s Bricktown, TapWerks is… well, it’s big. Really, really firkin big. Each of the historic, brick-and-wood-laden Old World-style pub’s two floors boasts 106 taps (212 in total), plus 100+ cellar-aged bottles from all over the world. Californian stouts, Flemish Blondes, sours, quadruples, pales? Yup. Rarities from big dogs like Founders and Sierra Nevada, and appearances by smaller locals like Prairie? Of course. Tecate? Why the hell not? There’s something for everyone. Except maybe your buddy who only drinks Steel Reserve. But why the hell would you bring him here -- or anywhere -- in the first place?
There are two reasons why Taste of Tops is unlike any beer bar in the country: Four of their employees are Certified Cicerones and have an encyclopedic knowledge of beer (ask for Issa, he's there the most often), and it's connected to a liquor store. Their 24 rotating taps are nice and all, but the real added value is being able to walk into the adjoining liquor store, grab any of their hundreds of bottled beers (including ones from their cellar vintage bottle list) and drink it on the premises in the bar. And if aged beer doesn't do it for you, breweries are always showing up to the store side of things for events, including Colorado craft brew favorites Upslope, Oskar Blues, and Ska Brewing.
Started by a consortium of "hardcore beer and food" types -- including a Momofuku research lab chef, the former beer sommelier from DBGB, and the guy behind Evil Twin Brewing -- this temple to all things brew is dedicated to bringing you some of the tastiest and rarest suds. The 20+ carefully selected taps are hooked to a high-tech, temp-regulating system and are organized from light to dark. Beers -- with a large selection from Evil Twin, naturally -- are served in a chill spot covered with marble and reclaimed wood that resembles the hull of a viking ship on a return voyage from Brooklyn. Like a "for a good time call" message, the constantly changing menu's written on the mirror. Expect to see a lot of stuff you haven't heard of. Luckily, the staff is as knowledgeable as they get.
Andy Kryza is a senior editor on Thrillist’s national food & drink team. He wrote the majority of this article in the Horse Brass. Follow him to increasing hubris via @apkryza.