Twentieth-century poet of the people Charles Bukowski once wrote, “Stay with beer. Beer is continuous blood. A continuous lover.” No need to tell that twice to the members of the Mug Club at his namesake Boston dive, one of America’s best beer bars.
Across the nation, craft beer is having a moment: BrewersAssociation.org reports that a whopping 700 breweries opened in 2013. “The consumer has demanded a higher-quality product,” says beer pioneer Dale Katechis, owner of Oskar Blues, the nation’s largest, privately owned craft beer producer. “We were tired of being force-fed case beer. Life is too short.”
But along with seriously tasty suds, where are the standout places to drink them?
When choosing America’s best beer bars we focused not only on the number of taps and uniqueness of the kegs (plus extras like beer-focused menus and on-point design), but also made sure there were knowledgeable bartenders to help you sort out your saisons from your stouts.
In rural Maine, Ebenezer’s rare Belgian pours and makeshift “beer museum” pull in pilgrims from around the world, while spots like Craft Pride in Austin, TX, and Tony’s Darts Away in Burbank, CA, showcase instead their own state’s regional brews. In NYC, Top Hops bridges the gap between beer store and bar with 20 drafts to sample and almost 700 bottles to take home or cap in the store—a godsend to those new to the brew.
“Craft beer bars are growing with a vengeance,” beams Katechis. (Cheers to that!) Be it a cult icon or newly opened standout, here’s where to get your beer geek on from coast to coast.