Writer NOT Attributed. Via draft.com
As craft beer has exploded, so has the number of incredible places that serve it. This list celebrates those special haunts with less than three locations and one passionate focus: beer. There might be darts and a jukebox or candlelight and a turntable; there might be five beers or 500. But in every spot on our list, you’ll find an excellent brew in your glass and people—staff, owners, barflies—who care about that as much as you do. (Read last year’s list here.)
APEX | Portland, Ore.
Whether you’re inside the sleek aluminum bar eyeing the real-time digital tap menu or out front tipping back pints on the fleet of picnic tables, Apex’s hoppy list of 50 brews is the perfect intro to the IBU-centric taste of the Pacific Northwest. 1216 SE Division St., apexbar.com
BAILEY’S TAP ROOM | Portland, Ore.
There’s no better place in downtown Portland to submerse yourself in beer than Bailey’s: Fresh hoppy flavor pours from 20 rotating taps while the locale’s exposed brick, shiny wrap-around wood bar and two-story windows blends city-chic with rustic Northwest attitude. 213 SW Broadway, baileystaproom.com
BEER?REVOLUTION | Oakland, Calif.
“This place is great!?It’s the first place I’ve seen that works at both a crazy selection and making it accessible to everyone. I love the fact that from novice to liver-hardened beer geek, everyone is made to feel comfortable.” –Morgan Cox, Ale Industries 464 Third St., beer-revolution.com
BELMONT STATION | Portland, Ore.
Part bottle shop, part biercafé with all the neighborhood charm you can stomach: This is the spot to tip back a few pints during one of the many (like, multi-weekly) intimate beer events, then pop into the adjacent bottle shop and pick from more than 1,300 beers to take home. Need advice? The staff’s always on point with tips for newcomers. 4500 SE Stark St., belmont-station.com
BEVERIDGE PLACE PUB | Seattle
This neighborly West Seattle pub feels like your grandpa’s den—if your grandpa stocked nearly 200 craft bottles and scored rare kegs from Two Beers and Ninkasi. Just try to find Triplehorn Landwink IPA on cask somewhere else: You won’t. 6413 California Ave. S.W., beveridgeplacepub.com
BLIND LADY ALE HOUSE | San Diego
Peep where your pint of Automatic Transition Pale Ale’s made (hint: in BLAH’s back room) while waiting for an artisan pizza, or get sucked in by walls of vintage cans, retro beer murals and random kegs knocking about this trendy yet beer-serious bar. 3416 Adams Ave., blindlady.blogspot.com
CHURCHILL’S PUB & GRILLE | San Marcos, Calif. (NEW TO THIS YEAR’S LIST!)
Come here for authentic English charm—the cozy nooks, stained glass and WWII photos almost feel better suited to the British countryside—and toast to King and country with an epic list of American beers, like a 2009 bottle of Russian River Temptation. 887 W. San Marcos Blvd., churchillspub.us
THE DAILY PINT | Los Angeles
“Dive bar” is a badge of honor when the beer’s this sublime: Four cask engines and taps that rotate faster than a Tilt-a-Whirl are the hallmarks of this 25-year-old establishment. Dress down, play some darts and kick it with your friends in this beloved, casual LA haunt. 231 Pico Blvd., thedailypint.net
DRAUGHT HOUSE | Austin, Texas
There’s a reason this place has been around 45 years, and it’s still packed almost every night of the week. Line up for superb beer from 70 taps (including stellar house favorites) and hunt for a seat in the two-story chalet-style bar, or join the wisest patrons with a B.Y.O. lawn chair in the parking lot. Fido’s welcome, too. 4112 Medical Pkwy., draughthouse.com
EL PRADO | Los Angeles (NEW TO THIS YEAR’S LIST!)
How can a bar with only seven taps make this list? When one of those seven taps is Ayinger Rauchbier and the bartender, fresh off a visit to the brewery, happily tells you all about it (and, knowledgeably, about the other six selections, too). A candlelit, hallwayesque bar with a turntable and cool, urban vibe make this our favorite small-but-excellent spot. 1805 W. Sunset Blvd., elpradobar.com
ENCINITAS ALE HOUSE | Encinitas, Calif. (NEW TO THIS YEAR’S LIST!)
A few blocks from the surf sits this shaded, hole-in-the-wall beer paradise. Grab a Belgian rarity from the 350-bottle list, a gargantuan garlic burger and a bit of breeze before heading back to the beach. 1044 S. Coast Highway 101, encinitasalehouse.com
FALLING ROCK | Denver, Colo.
Situated in craft beer’s ground zero, this iconic beer bar has hosted every brewer you’ve ever heard of; it’s a serious mind-trip contemplating the gems that have poured through the 75 taps or been served at the endless stream of special events, including the annual, always sold-out Rare Beer Tasting during GABF. 1919 Blake St., fallingrocktaphouse.com
FATHER’S OFFICE | Los Angeles
The rumors about the burger are true, so, yes, the wait in line to get into this pint-sized long-bar is worth it. Better yet, it’s the O.G. of craft beer awesomeness in the trend-driven city that’s finally caught on to beer, so those in the know will feel right at home chatting with knowledgeable servers and sipping from 36 simply perfect taps. 1018 Montana Ave., fathersoffice.com
HAMILTON’S TAVERN | San Diego
Amid San Diego’s crème de la crème beer scene, this neighborhood alehouse is a simple mainstay that brings the best of beer and fun. Sure, hundreds of tap handles dangle from the high ceilings, but the locals here nosh on comfort food from the adjacent café and chat about more than what’s on the taps (and two casks!) or in their bottles (more than 200). 1521 30th St., hamiltonstavern.com
THE HAY MERCHANT | Houston, Texas (NEW TO THIS YEAR’S LIST!)
This frisky new spot along one of Houston’s main thoroughfares is brick-dressed and brings it with 78 beers on tap, 5 of which are on cask. Not only is the selection deep, but it’s one-of-a-kind: The bar lends barrels to breweries for one-off projects. Plus, the food’s got flair, from fried headcheese to Chicken Fried Texas Water Buffalo. 1100 Westheimer Rd., haymerchant.com
HORSE BRASS PUB | Portland, Ore.
You can credit this well-worn, 37-year-old bucket-list bar as one of the nation’s original craft houses. Packed to the gills with classic beer memorabilia and stocked with every stalwart and newfangled beer imaginable, this English-style pub is beer Nirvana. 4534 SE Belmont St., horsebrass.com
LA TRAPPE CAFÉ | San Francisco
Head to the cozy basement of this rustic bar and be whisked away by a beer menu filled with whimsical Belgian rarities. Pair a Cantillon with a plate of mussels and be totally transported. 800 Greenwich St., latrappecafe.com
LITTLE BEAR | Los Angeles (NEW TO THIS YEAR’S LIST!)
This Arts District spot gets points for style (Old World urban with a fresh coat of paint), but even more for its simply sick collection of always-changing Belgian and Belgian-inspired brews—think imported Caracole Saxo, Blind Ambition Belgian-style brown from nearby it-brewery Ladyface, and Brainless Corruption, a Belgo IPA collaboration from Salt Lake City’s Epic and the capital’s DC Brau. 1855 Industrial St., littlebearla.com
NAKED CITY TAP HOUSE | Seattle
A superclean, sprawling space posted with flatscreens and one of the Northwest’s greatest regional tap selections? A rare combo, but it’s exactly what you get at this laid-back tavern. Watch for head-spinning one-offs like early fall’s Notorious ALT, an imperial altbier the taphouse brewed with Ninkasi and Skagit River. 8564 Greenwood Ave., nakedcitybrewing.com
O’BRIEN’S AMERICAN PUB | San Diego
It’s not always location, location, location: This no-frills strip-mall spot holds icon status with a serious following. A self-proclaimed working man’s bar, it draws an in-the-know set, especially when breweries unleash their rare beers on its 20 taps. 4646 Convoy St., obrienspub.net
PAPAGO BREWING CO. | Scottsdale, Ariz.
Beer’s on the rise in the Valley of the Sun, but this strip-mall standout has been home to an elevated selection for 11 years. Recently renovated and doubled in size, it’s still shuffleboard-and-Trivial Pursuit-casual, but now it brings its A-game with 31 rotating taps (including award-winning house beer) and a fridge-lined wall of bottled greats. 7107 E. McDowell Rd., papagobrewing.com
THE PINE BOX | Seattle (NEW TO THIS YEAR’S LIST!)
Shooting to the top of Seattle’s beer scene is this brand-new, airy beer bastion inside a former Capitol Hill funeral home. More than 30 taps and the world’s only built-in Randall pours Evil Twin Hop Flood, Mad Viking Bourbon Imperial Stout and Snipes Mountain lager through chilies, limes and cilantro. 1600 Melrose Ave., pineboxbar.com
PETROL STATION | Houston, Texas (NEW TO THIS YEAR’S LIST!)
This cozy neighborhood hideaway is small, but it hosts a sizable beer selection that makes hopheads in other parts of the state green. Join its active beer-loving community on Facebook and chat about the latest, greatest release, or just head in blindly (you won’t be disappointed) for a burger and beer in this Houston hop spot. 985 Wakefield Dr., 713.957.2875
SARAVEZA BOTTLE SHOP & PASTY TAVERN | Portland, Ore.
Retro beer-brand bric-a-brac fills every crook and wall of this little corner joint beloved by local brewers, while potato-stuffed pasties and Packers football drives home that Wisconsin feel—the stellar West Coast beer selection, however, is decidedly Portlandish. 1004 N. Killingsworth St., saraveza.com
SMALL BAR | San Diego (NEW TO THIS YEAR’S LIST!)
From the wooden abbey-style front door to the pointed arch back bar to the moody red-and-black décor, this tiny University Heights spot is Gothic-chic. Beware the looming keg suspended from the ceiling—and limited elbow room—as you peruse the mostly local taps inside this cute watering hole. 4628 Park Blvd., smallbarsd.com
STRANGEWAYS | Dallas, Texas
Just shy of its two-year anniversary, Strangeways is bombed-out in a cool way (think exposed brick and beams) in an emerging D-town ’hood. The beer selection rocks, with 40-plus taps, and the superfriendly staff knows its stuff. Smiths fans, welcome home. 2429 N. Fitzhugh Ave., 214.823.7800
STUMBLING MONK | Seattle
If you never make it to Belgium, this Capitol Hill hole in the wall is the next best thing. Dark and gritty, the place isn’t much to look at, but its unalloyed devotion to Belgian beers—Belgo-brewed and American-made, fresh and vintage, draft and bottle—makes the Monk one of the beer-geek greats. 1635 E. Olive Way, 206.860.0916
SURLY GOAT | Los Angeles
Practically unmarked, this cool West Hollywood bar gets bustling (read: really loud), but if you’re serious about craft beer you’ll find an even more boisterous brew on the 27 taps. 7929 Santa Monica Blvd., surlygoat.com
TIGER! TIGER! | San Diego (NEW TO THIS YEAR’S LIST!)
As Blind Lady’s sister location, expect the same thoughtfully curated list of locally minded beers, but prepare to make some new friends: The hall’s long picnic tables pack young, hipster patrons shoulder-to-shoulder while pitchers of craft suds give this buzzing bar a fun, social vibe. 3025 El Cajon Blvd., tigertigertavern.blogspot.com
TONY’S DARTS AWAY | Burbank, Calif.
On a suburban thoroughfare in Burbank, this lodgy-feeling outpost loves beer, the earth and you. Stop in for a surprisingly full-flavored vegan sausage and one of 40 California-only taps; chat with your friendly barstool neighbor about all of the earth-friendly efforts (like recycled everything, no bottles and locally sourced food, for starters). 1710 W. Magnolia Blvd., tonysda.com
THE TORONADO PUB | San Francisco
This iconic Haight Street bar’s been a weigh station for craft beer for a quarter-century—and host of the most famous barleywine festival for almost as long—and as evidenced by the throngs of beer geeks (and bikers) that clog the small, crusty bar each night, it’s still the place to sample California’s beer scene. For a slightly roomier version, check out its second location in San Diego’s North Park neighborhood. 547 Haight St., toronado.com
THE TRAPPIST | Oakland, Calif.
Housed in a charming 1870s Victorian building, The Trappist’s Belgian-leaning beer list will knock your socks off. Fear not: There’s a staff Cicerone to guide you through the foreign scroll of rarities on the topnotch l00-plus-bottle list. 460 Eighth St., thetrappist.com
ASHLEY’S | Ann Arbor, Mich.
It’s easy to find excellent beer in Michigan (Short’s, Jolly Pumpkin, Arcadia Ales), but to find it in one wood-dressed place where you’ll rub elbows with grad students and true students of beer, you’ve gotta go to Ashley’s. Some love it for the proximity to campus nightlife, but the savvier set reveres it for the 70-plus taps that often get first dibs on Michigan’s finest. 338 State St., ashleys.com
BANGERS & LACE | Chicago
Fueled by artisan sausages and the Wicker Park hipsters who down them en masse, this vintage-sparse beer bar’s libations are nothing if not thought-provoking: The 32 taps are obscure (Bourganel Biere Au Nougat, previews from newbie Solemn Oath), and the short but sweet bottle list wanders even further off the beaten path (think Sarasola Sagardoa cider from Spain). 1670 W. Division St., bangersandlacechicago.com
BRIDGE | St. Louis
It’s the classiest beer bar you’ll ever have the pleasure of sipping a St. Louis small-batch in, but the knowledgeable yet respectful staff (who can curate a cheese plate like no other) keeps the vibe unstuffy. 1004 Locust St., thebridgestl.com
BUCKEYE BEER ENGINE | Lakewood, Ohio
Grab a seat at the horseshoe bar, order up a cask-conditioned pint from local brewery Indigo Imp, and marvel at the inventive displays of beer paraphernalia—like the beer-bottle light fixtures illuminating this upbeat watering hole. 15315 Madison Ave., buckeyebeerengine.com
CLUBHOUSE BFD | Rochester Hills, Mich. (NEW TO THIS YEAR’S LIST!)
Think traditional beer house, but quirkier: beer-kitsch décor with a sense of humor, samplers served on ping-pong paddles, and the occasional cheeseburger slider sandwiched between two Krispy Kremes. The 40 taps and 150 or so bottles mix world-class pours with Michigan greats. 2265 Crooks Rd., chbfd.com
CRESCENT MOON ALE HOUSE | Omaha, Neb.
The crux of “Beer Corner, U.S.A.” (which includes a few sister bars and a bottle shop) is Crescent Moon, which pulls American barrels and bottles you don’t see everywhere else—including picks from Nebraska outfits like Spilker, Upstream and Empyrean—into one congenial, oh-so-Midwestern beer spot with killer Reubens to boot. 3578 Farnam St., beercornerusa.com
EL BAIT SHOP | Des Moines, Iowa
You’d never guess that this quirky road biker mecca shilling Mexican food takes its beer so seriously—until you find the nearly 200-beer roster and see stuff like Peace Tree Hop Sutra. 200 SW 2nd St., elbaitshop.com
THE FOUNDRY | Kansas City, Mo.
Midcentury chic meets modern beer inside this hip Westport ’hood bar. Sip from an impressive collection of more than 200 brews (neatly divided by character: “crisp, delicate” vs. “crisp, bright”) while knocking out a game of pool on the bar’s vintage table. 424 Westport Rd., foundrykc.com
FOUNTAINHEAD | Chicago (NEW TO THIS YEAR’S LIST!)
Still a baby in Chicago’s beer-bar scene, this buzzing tavern wins over connoisseurs with a pedigreed beer director (he’s a Goose Island and Sheffield’s alum, as well as a Cicerone), a friendly rooftop garden and 200 globe-spanning, rotating beers. The beer’s topnotch, but the mood’s low-key. 1970 W. Montrose Ave., fountainheadchicago.com
El Bait Shop
THE HAPPY GNOME | St. Paul, Minn.
The congenial vibe, large stone hearth and wooden booths are warm shelter from MSP’s wicked winters, so step on in and suit yourself with custom flights (pick five, write ’em down and hand ’em to the server) from a seriously credible beer list of 75-plus taps. 498 Selby Ave., thehappygnome.com
HEOROT | Muncie, Ind.
Often the lone Indiana stop for craft brewers crossing the Midwest, the dark, Viking-ish décor’s not much to look at, but the 450-beer menu is unquestionably world-class. A brand-new brewing setup in the basement means house beers any day now. 219 S. Walnut St., 765.287.0173
HOPCAT | Grand Rapids, Mich.
Powered by the seemingly endless supply of local beer energy (newbie Perrin Brewing launched here; Short’s claims a slew of taps; Founders is a few blocks away), HopCat’s as beer-serious as it ever was, though still upbeat and welcoming in that Midwestern sort of way. 25 Ionia Ave. SW, hopcatgr.com
INTERNATIONAL TAP HOUSE | St. Louis
A bottle-cap mosaic in the foyer heralds the nearly 500 beers spewing from this industrial-styled tavern in the city’s Soulard area; artfully written menu descriptions of the 40 on tap make for entertaining reading. No food, no frills; just excellent beer, a killer patio and bartenders who can spout ABVs and tasting notes on demand. 1711 S. 9th St., internationaltaphouse.com/soulard
KRUG PARK | Omaha, Neb. (NEW TO THIS YEAR’S LIST!)
Bare-bulbed and old-timey, the year-old Krug Park’s wood-and-brick décor gets a shot of life from a cool crowd and a chalkboard tap menu announcing rarer pours from well-known craft breweries. The bar’s Beer Society club (join for $20) gets the sweetest deals: discounts on every order, invites to special events and members-only pours. 6205 Maple St., krugpark.com
LA CAVE DU VIN | Cleveland
A flicker of candle flame and the glow from the bottle coolers is all the light you have to go by in this subterranean beer mecca, which means the handful of taps, discerning bottle selection and vintage list under lock and key are best enjoyed on a date—leave your beer notebook at home. 2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., lacaveduvin.com
LOCAL OPTION | Chicago
If Lars Ulrich had a beer bar, it’d be this edgy Lincoln Park cavern. The rocker crowd’s a little surly, but they’ve got a soft spot for craft beer; 31 taps touch on Belgium’s De la Senne and the East Coast’s High & Mighty, plus a few seriously unsung house beers. 1102 W. Webster Ave., localoptionbier.com
MAP ROOM | Chicago
Want to travel the globe for beer without the jet lag? Visit the great beer nations (Belgium, England, Germany, and the U.S. of A., of course) by pint glass with super-smart staffers as your translators and old National Geographics as your inspiration. You’ll never taste everything—the Cicerone who mans the beer list rotates the spigots often—but it can’t hurt to try. 1949 N. Hoyne Ave., maproom.com
THE MALT HOUSE TAVERN | Madison, Wis. (NEW TO THIS YEAR’S LIST!)
The real beer crowd escapes Mad Town’s collegiate rowdiness at this humble tavern, where Wisconsin-made 3 Sheeps beers and AeppelTreow ciders mingle with European craft. 2609 E. Washington Ave., malthousetavern.com
MCNULTY’S BIER MARKT | Cleveland
Rich, dark wood tones and soft lighting set the mood for this swanky, Belgian-enriched bar, while bottles of 3 Fonteinen Oud Gueze circa 2009 and plates of pickled pork shoulder help make this joint one of the classiest beer spots in Cleveland to bring a date. 1948 W. 25th St., bier-markt.com
MICHAEL & LOUISE’S HOPLEAF BAR | Chicago
Even a new expansion that doubled its size (not to mention a visit from “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives”) couldn’t squash the humble, neighborhoody vibe of this beer bar icon. The Belgian-leaning food menu’s grown, and with a slew of new taps, the beer list remains one of the world’s best. 5148 N. Clark St., hopleaf.com
THE MITTEN BAR | Ludington, Mich.
If it wasn’t brewed in Michigan, you won’t find it here: This vintage-cool spot intent on beer education pours the best beers brewed within state lines, including kegs you won’t find anywhere else. Here-and-gone food specials like house-smoked pork belly and the live music lineup keep drinkers in their seats. 109 W. Ludington Ave., mittenbar.com
OLD TOWN POUR HOUSE | Chicago (NEW TO THIS YEAR’S LIST!)
More upscale and less neighborhoody than Chicago’s other beer bars but just as beer-heavy, Pour House boasts Cicerone-certified staffers slinging pints from 90-plus taps. The beer’s not your usual Chi-town stuff, either, with Cali’s Port Mongo IPA and Michigan’s Greenbush Distorter Porter pouring alongside Bottlenectar, the bar’s collaboration amber with nearby Two Bros. Brewing. 1419 N. Wells St., oldtownpourhouse.com
PALM TAVERN | Milwaukee
This cozy, drive-by-and-you’ll-miss-it beer joint that’s still somehow under the radar continues to score some of the world’s sweetest barrels—bully for the bar’s adoring beer-geek (but friendly!) public. Picking between pints like 3 Fontienen Zwet.be and New Holland Dragon’s Milk’s a Herculean task, but the patient, smart staffers make for light guesswork. 2989 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., 414.744.0393
REPUBLIC | Minneapolis (NEW TO THIS YEAR’S LIST!)
Tour the Twin Cities’ burgeoning beer scene at this eclectic-cool West Bank pub. More than 50 taps (and one cask) pour delights from all the breweries you haven’t ticked yet—Indeed, Harriet, Steel Toe and more. 221 Cedar Ave. S., republicmn.com
ROMANS’ PUB | Milwaukee
Still gruff, still pouring a head-turning selection of American and Belgian crafts that keep serious tickers busy. Stumble in when the owner’s feeling generous, and you might score a taste of one of the vintages lurking in the cellar. 3475 Kinnickinnic Ave., romanspub.com
ROYAL MILE | Des Moines, Iowa
Shepherd’s pie (both traditional and fried versions), Union Jacks and the best collection of U.K. beer on this side of the pond make this British pub and its upstairs Belgian bar one of America’s best. Boddingtons, Strongbow and Harviestoun Old Engine Oil are all here, but so are lesser-poured greats like Coniston Bluebird Bitter and Isle of Arran Dark. 210 4th St., royalmilebar.com
SHEFFIELD’S | Chicago
Real geeks may scoff at the loud Lakeview crowd, but four separate bars pouring the best in craft, a barbecue menu that stands on its own, and what remains one of the city’s best beer gardens keeps Sheffield’s at the top of the pile. No wonder it’s still a top stop for visiting breweries like Brooklyn, Sierra Nevada and Michigan’s Brewery Vivant. 3258 N. Sheffield Ave., sheffieldschicago.com
SUGAR MAPLE | Milwaukee
The management should really be bragging about Sugar Maple’s quietly awesome lineup of 60 all-American, Wisconsin-heavy craft taps, but they’re too busy booking cultish indie bands to play practically every night of the week—so Tweet-worthy tappings from New Glarus and O’So stay close to the vest. 441 E. Lincoln Ave., mysugarmaple.com
THE ARMSBY ABBEY | Worcester, Mass.
The cozy corner pub Armsby Abbey offers one of the most impressive beer selections on this list: Rarities like Cantillon Iris 2007 and hyperelusive beers like Anchorage Lovebuzz saison make it a beer ticker’s paradise. 144 Main St., armsbyabbey.com
BEER TABLE | Brooklyn
Justin and Tricia Philips focus on the truly artisanal at their tiny Brooklyn haunt, pouring vintage brews, incredible bottles and constantly changing rare taps for experimental pairings with everything from cheese to dehydrated watermelon. Linger for the pairing dinners, or stop into the Grand Central Station retail spot to take the experience home. 427b 7th Ave., beertable.com
THE BIER BARON TAVERN | Washington, D.C.
A Washington institution, this cavernous beer hall and inn (formerly The Brickskeller) in the capital’s Dupont Circle neighborhood is as essential to visit as the Smithsonian: Its exhaustive 550-plus beer list spans brewing history, from ancient gruits to black IPAs and everything in between. 1523 22nd St. NW, bierbarondc.com
BIERKRAFT | Brooklyn
The first spot in the Big Apple to sell growlers, this upbeat, 18-tap beer and sammy shop (and biergarten, and bottle shop) is just another testament to Brooklyn’s beer health. Free bites and brew tastings on Tuesday are one reason to go, but an even better one? The creative pours coming from the staff-manned brewing system. 191 Fifth Ave., bierkraft.com
BLIND TIGER | New York City
This Bleecker Street bar exudes Village character: dimly lit, charmingly cramped and packed with whispering patrons sipping on goblets of Belgian sour ales. Go Wednesday nights when the bar offers free cheeses to pair alongside its lengthy list of worldly brews. 281 Bleecker St., blindtigeralehouse.com
THE BREWER’S ART | Baltimore
Sipping snifters inside this historic Baltimore townhome feels like a surreal open house. The venue’s sun-splashed foyer and cozy fireplace set the stage for the brewpub’s delicious Belgian-inspired creations and esoteric guest beers that make this piece of real estate a beer lover’s dream destination. 1106 N. Charles St., thebrewersart.com
CHURCHKEY | Washington, D.C.
Everything beer guru Greg Engert touches turns to gold, but Churchkey remains his crowning achievement: A swanky bar with more beer than D.C. lobbyists, Churchkey’s the spark that started the capital’s craft beer revolution. 1337 14th St. NW, churchkeydc.com
DEEP ELLUM | Allston, Mass.
From beer to spirits, the steam punkish Deep Ellum offers discerning taste without pretension. Its to-die-for beer list (seriously, Cantillon Saint Lamvinus is on there) is so perfectly curated, it’s even more jaw-dropping than the list of historic Manhattan cocktail creations. 477 Cambridge St., deepellum-boston.com
EBENEZER’S PUB | Lovell, Maine
Inside an old farmhouse, bar owner and beer connoisseur Chris Lively stables one of the most extensive beer collections on earth. Beyond the 18 taps pouring impossible-to-find stuff, he serves more than 1,000 bottles (including vintages dating back to the ’60s), and his cellar boasts some of the most obscure beers in the world. 44 Allen Rd., ebenezerspub.net
EULOGY BELGIAN TAVERN | Philadelphia
It’s the bar where everyone knows your name—or, at least, where they’re willing to learn it while tucking into a pot of mussels and a goblet of Duvel. A few blocks from Independence Hall, this shadowy Belgian-inclined pub manages to pack a huge beer list and big Philly hospitality into one tiny colonial space. 136 Chestnut St., eulogybar.com
THE FARMHOUSE | Emmaus, Pa.
The English-style pub inside this 19th-century stone farmhouse specializes in vintage beer, and if you’ve got the cash (like $250 for a bottle of 1994 Chimay Grand Reserve), the drinking sessions in this bucolic setting will be among your most memorable. 1449 Chestnut St., thefarmhouse.com
THE GREAT LOST BEAR | Portland, Maine
Part of the beer-bar Old Guard, this Portland dive has everything you want in a beer bar: a tavern vibe, an unfussy crowd, a gigantic wing-and-burger-driven menu, and a treasure trove of beer. More than 50 taps (including a handful of casks) pour one of the greatest roundups of Northeastern brew, roping in offerings from regional stars like Maine’s Baxter, New Hampshire’s Tuckerman and Vermont’s Switchback. 540 Forest Ave., greatlostbear.com
THE GREY LODGE PUBLIC HOUSE | Philadelphia
This northeast Philly blue-collar bar feels like the same lodge granddad would have escaped to for a few rounds of lager with his war buddies. The laid-back atmosphere and friendly banter remains, but the Lodge’s strict keg-rotating policy and emphasis on fresh regional craft is certainly 21st century. 6235 Frankford Ave., greylodge.com
MAX’S TAPHOUSE | Baltimore
Check your nerd at the door: Sure, you can sip a Goose Island Pere Jacques here, but this Inner Harbor bar’s more than its 140 drafts and 1,200-plus bottles. With a cool twentysomething crowd and vibrant weekend scene, this is the best place around to knock back craft and score digits on a Saturday night. 737 S. Broadway St., maxs.com
MEMPHIS TAPROOM | Philadelphia
Off the beaten path, this classy Kensington corner joint is where locals go to explore everything from Italian barleywines to local pours from the beer engine. If you’re feeling peckish, know this: The Taproom’s kitchen even took Guy Fieri to flavor town on an episode of “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” 2331 E. Cumberland St., memphistaproom.com
MONK’S CAFÉ | Philadelphia
“It’s in my home city of Philly, and it delivers everything a beer lover needs:?All the food incorporates beer, a huge beer selection and a super-knowledgeable and engaging staff.” –Jimmy Seifrit, 10 Barrel Brewing 264 S. 16th St., monkscafe.com
NOVARE RES BIER CAFÉ | Portland, Maine
Blink and you’ll miss the sign pointing the way to this off-the-beaten-cobblestone-path Old Port neighborhood bar. Once inside the delightfully warm, brick pub, grab a seat at one of the communal tables and get decisive: This little bar stocks more than 500 beers from around the world. 4 Canal Plaza, novareresbiercafe.com
Top Hops Beer Shop
THE PUBLICK HOUSE | Brookline, Mass.
This Boston-area bar’s packed to the rafters with students each night, but the Publick House isn’t a typical college bar: With its deliciously Old World tap and bottle selection (predominantly Belgian and Belgian-style) and authentic abbey décor, it’s the perfect place to study up on Trappist beer culture. 1648 Beacon St., 617.277.2880
RATTLE N HUM | New York City
Just blocks from the Empire State Building, this beer-geek bar’s the best spot around to escape bustling Midtown Manhattan. An inviting, stretched-out space houses the crowds who make friends at the communal tables in the back. Order something to share, like Sixpoint Grand Crue, or indulge yourself with whatever’s on cask. 14 E. 33rd St., rattlenhumbarnyc.com
SPUYTEN DUYVIL | Brooklyn
Embodying Brooklyn’s cool, artisan vibe, this easy-to-miss spot has a backyard-style garden and a serious beer list served properly, plus a solid collection of Belgians to geek out over. Hungry? Get the artisanal meat and cheese plate, or head across the street to the (same owner’s) lauded BBQ joint, Fette Saue. 359 Metropolitan Ave., spuytenduyvilnyc.com
SUNSET GRILL & TAP | Allston, Mass.
With a selection as vast in scope as the majors of liberal arts students who populate the bar, energetic Sunset’s one of the best spots in Boston to learn beer. Cram your way through epic lists of IPAs, lambics, strong ales and meads before diving into higher-level studies in beer cocktails, like the Cincinnati Lunch Box, a blend of Allagash White, orange juice and Amaretto. 130 Brighton Ave., allstonsfinest.com
THREE PENNY TAPROOM | Montpelier, Vt.
From its wooden sign to its awning and glass bay window façade, this place is a picture-perfect Main Street bar—which happens to reside on an actual Main Street. Inside, the venue’s antique tin ceiling endures, but the liquid is anything but antiquated: A nicely curated list of mostly regional brews (like Lawson’s Finest Hopzilla) makes this charming bar a craft beer force. 108 Main St., threepennytaproom.com
TOP HOPS BEER SHOP | New York City
A former Anheuser-Busch distributor took every guy’s beer-cave dreams and brought them to life in this minimalist Lower East Side tasting room. One of the world’s most stats-rich chalkboard menus details the 20 taps (including when the lines were last cleaned), bright coolers stock more than 700 bottles, and the friendly staff is generous with their help—and samples. 94 Orchard St., tophops.com
THE AVENUE PUB | New Orleans
From Avenue Pub’s second-story balcony you can reign over the Mardi Gras parade, but it’s the ever-personable owner Polly Watt who rules the roost at this all-day, every-day creaky house with 50 taps flowing the finest selection in the Big Easy. 1732 St. Charles Ave., avenuepub.com
BREWMASTERS BAR & GRILL | Raleigh, N.C.
From Monday specials on craft cans to Poker Night Tuesdays to Wednesday Homebrew Humpdays, we simply love this joint’s style; the 66 taps featuring a slew of Carolina brews and the epic pint of bacon (you read that right) are icing on the cake. 301 W. Martin St., brewmastersbarandgrill.com
BRICK STORE PUB | Decatur, Ga.
This big, bricky stalwart has encouraged Decatur to “drink good beer” for 15 years. Linger over crafts at the main bar or trek upstairs to the wholly Belgian setup for some real rarities; then, get really involved and ask about what’s been fermenting in the bank-vault-turned-cellar. 125 E. Court Sq., brickstorepub.com
BUSY BEE CAFÉ | Raleigh, N.C.
Vintage beer, sour ales, barrel-aged brews and a hefty Belgian-style list—and that’s just the bottle selection. The Bee’s two bars split 19 taps from breweries east of the Mississippi, but don’t miss the rare barrel option: These special beers were aged specifically for sale at this craft-obsessed spot. 225 S. Wilmington St., busybeeraleigh.com
CLOSED FOR BUSINESS | Charleston, S.C.
Don’t let the name fool you: This artsy, screen print-lined Charleston spot’s open and pouring the best beer around. Classic and trendy pints abound, but stick to the bar’s perfectly themed flights like Tall Dark and Handsome, featuring a thoughtful collection of black IPAs, stouts, porters and schwarzbiers. 453 King St., closed4business.com
GROWLERS POURHOUSE | Charlotte, N.C.
The refurbished 1936 beer engine inside this charming, exposed-brick bar gives it cred, but so do the beer classes (held the first Tuesday of each month), the beer and cheese pairings, the beer cocktails and, of course, the 14 taps each dedicated to a specific style. 3120 N. Davidson St., growlerspourhouse.com
HARRIKA’S BREW HAUS | Swansboro, N.C.
Located inside a converted beach town bungalow, this recently expanded bar-and-bottle-shop is as quirky as it is serious about beer: Roughly 700 bottles are up for sale (plus a few on tap), ready to be cracked open on the bar’s sculpture-filled yard or umbrella-topped beer garden. 911 Cedar Point Blvd., teaandbeer.com
HOLY GRALE | Louisville, Ky.
A 1905 Unitarian church houses this upscale pub; the look is reminiscent of its holier days. The beer’s all topnotch, with pours from Mikkeller and newbie West 6th. A farm-fresh spin on bar food pleases the pickiest locavores, and yes, homebrewers: Those are hop vines trellising out back. 1034 Bardstown Rd., holygralelouisville.com
THE J. CLYDE HOT ROCK TAVERN & ALEHOUSE | Birmingham, Ala.
Beer’s getting a boost in ’Bama, and for five years, wood-decked pub J. Clyde has fought the good fight for craft. With brewmaster-led beer dinners, tap takeovers and more than 200 brews on offer, it remains a step ahead in this fledgling beer state. 1312 Cobb Ln., jclyde.com
MR. BEERY’S | Sarasota, Fla.
Whether you came for the Wednesday beer pairings, the Thursday craft pitchers or the occasional brewery night with special keg tappings, you’re sure to return for this beach-casual bar’s 24 taps and inventive spirit. Ever sipped a Leffe Brune through a cherry Twizzler? 2645 Mall Dr., mrbeeryssrq.com
THE NOOK | Huntsville, Ala.
“The Nook was the first craft beer bar in the area. Connell Allen bought an old, run-down bar with the idea of making it a nice place to go (clean, nonsmoking, well-lit, great patio) to enjoy craft beer. Most of—if not all— the local breweries debut there, and they always have local beers on tap. Plus, there are weekly special beer releases, and [manager] Beverly is constantly trying to get in rare, special beers from craft breweries throughout the world.” –Dan Perry, Straight to Ale 3305 Bob Wallace Ave. S.W., thenooktavern.com
THE PORTER BEER BAR | Atlanta, Ga.
Husband-and-wife team Nick Rutherford and Molly Dunn committed to beer big-time in their little brick-and-wood Atlanta haunt. Just do the math: 700-plus bottles, a newly unveiled 300-bottle-strong vintage list (give it a few years, it’ll be stunning) and 36 crafts on tap. 1156 Euclid Ave., theporterbeerbar.com
REDLIGHT, REDLIGHT | Orlando, Fla.
This unassuming roadside bar’s got an impressive number of beers (23 taps, two beer engines and 200 bottles). Rare sightings like 10 meads, six farmhouse ciders and five craft sodas round out a healthy selection of IPAs, wheats, Belgians and stouts. 2810 Corrine Dr., redlightredlightbeerparlour.com
SERGIO’S WORLD BEERS | Louisville, Ky.
Go in for a bottle, get suckered into a pint from the more than 40 global taps. With more than a thousand beers to choose from, it’s no wonder the regulars at this humble dive are tight-knit; perusing the shelves and fridges can take hours. The few who know exactly what they want in advance can reserve bottles online. 1605 Story Ave., sergiosworldbeers.com
TAPWERKS ALEHOUSE & CAFÉ | Oklahoma City, Okla.
It’s as fun to explore this three-story Bricktown bar as it is to excavate the whopping 212-tap list. Grab a seat at the bar or seek out a leather chair in a hidden nook, browse books in the upstairs library, shoot pool and darts, or just follow the noise to find live music, which hits the stage three nights a week. 121 E. Sheridan Ave., tapwerks.com
THIRSTY MONK | Asheville, N.C.
More than 50 taps pour inside the two bars at Thirsty Monk’s bright and airy downtown location (plus an additional 200 bottles), but what’s most impressive are the little details: Thorough tasting notes accompany every beer, so a night of sampling becomes an extensive education. 92 Patton Ave., monkpub.com
TRAPPEZE PUB | Athens, Ga.
College town Athens gets a higher-level beer education at the orange-walled, craft-savvy Trappeze Pub. The beer list’s mapped out by style, and with more than 200 bottles (plus 30 on tap) and the half-glass option, you can sip (and learn) like a true beer scholar. 269 N. Hill St., Suite 6, trappezepub.com