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America’s 100 Best Beer Bars 2014

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After six years of making this annual list, we had to rethink the definition of a top-notch beer bar. New ones are opening every second, and “good beer bar” no longer equals a zillion taps; there’s just more to it now. We needed to walk out of these places saying, “Now there’s a bar that really, really cares about your experience with beer.” So what does that mean? Having well-cared for, thoughtfully selected beer with an eye toward variety, trends and tradition, in the kind of place you’d want to stay awhile, delivered by someone who knows their stuff. We don’t want to send you to a place where the server doesn’t look up from her texting when you ask questions, or where you’ll be told a saison “is basically a lager.” (And yes, both of those things happened on our visits.) We’d rather you to go to ChurchKey in D.C., where beers are smartly grouped by flavor (citrusy, woodsy, etc.), rather than just by style. We want you to go to Bailey’s Taproom in Portland, Ore., which cares so much about beer freshness, the digital menu says when each keg was tapped and how much is left. We want you to go to all 100 of these places, because they really are a cut above the rest.

SKIP TO REGION: NORTHEAST | SOUTH | MIDWEST | WEST

Tiger!Tiger!
3025 El Cajon Blvd., North Park, Calif.; tigertigertavern.blogspot.com
This popular bar might be San Diego’s most iconoclastic; what other spot would organize an annual day-long bike caravan (with beer breaks!) to pick up kegs from a local brewery? Tiger! Tiger! recently celebrated its second anniversary with a slew of special events like these, including the grand opening of its IPA bar, a bar-within-the-bar for the hop-obsessed. Fashioned from repurposed wood, the IPA bar occupies a corner of Tiger! Tiger!ʼs twinkly, light-strung, shipping container-enclosed back patio, and for the moment, is only open Friday and Saturday nights. Though the main indoor bar hosts 23 taps and the outdoor bar has just four, theyʼre consistently stocked with the best of the West, from Russian Riverʼs Pliny the Elder to hoppy offerings from Automatic Brewing Co., the small brewhouse helmed by co-founder Lee Chase at Blind Lady Ale House, Tiger! Tiger!’s older and equally admired sibling. This bar’s also one of the handful of local brew-centric eateries that serves food as good as the beer; a wood-fired oven bakes oysters under a creamy Rockefeller-like sauce and roasts meat for sandwiches. And the Sunday brunch is one of the cityʼs best; the beer and house-made donut pairing is a killer way to start the day. –Candice Woo

1702
1702 E. Speedway Blvd., Tucson, Ariz.; 1702az.com

Bailey’s TapRoom
213 SW Broadway, Portland, Ore.; baileystaproom.com

Bazi Bierbrasserie
1522 SE 32nd Ave., Portland, Ore.;  bazipdx.com

Beer Revolution
464 3rd St., Oakland, Calif.; beer-revolution.com

Belmont Station
4500 SE Stark St., Portland, Ore.; belmont-station.com

Beveridge Place Pub
6413 California Ave. SW, Seattle; beveridgeplacepub.com

Blind Lady Ale House
3416 Adams Ave., San Diego; blindlady.blogspot.com

Craft and Growler
3601 Parry Ave., Dallas; craftandgrowler.com

Craft Pride
61 Rainey St., Austin, Texas; craftprideaustin.com

Draught House & Brewery
4112 Medical Pkwy., Austin, Texas; draughthouse.com

Encinitas Ale House
1044 S. Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, Calif.; encinitasalehouse.com

Falling Rock
1919 Blake St., Denver; fallingrocktaphouse.com

Hamilton’s Tavern
1521 30th St., San Diego; hamiltonstavern.com

The Hay Merchant
1100 Westheimer Rd., Houston; haymerchant.com

Imperial Bottle Shop & Taproom
3090 SE Division St., Portland, Ore.; imperialbottleshop.com

Mayor of Old Town
632 S. Mason St., Fort Collins, Colo.;  themayorofoldtown.com

Mikkeller Bar
34 Mason St., San Francisco; mikkellerbar.com

Mongoose Versus Cobra
1011 McGowen, Houston; mongooseversuscobra.com

O’Brien’s Pub
4646 Convoy St., San Diego; obrienspub.net

Petrol Station
985 Wakefield, Houston; facebook.com/petrolstation

Pine Box
1600 Melrose Ave., Seattle; pineboxbar.com

Saraveza Bottle Shop & Pasty Tavern
1004 N. Killingsworth St., Portland, Ore.; saraveza.com

The Sixgill
3417 Evanston Ave. N., Seattle; thesixgill.com

Strangeways
2429 N. Fitzhugh, Dallas; 214.823.7800

Stumbling Monk
1635 E. Olive Way, Seattle; 206.860.0916

Surly Goat
7929 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, Calif.; surlygoat.com

Tap and Handle
307 S. College Ave., Fort Collins, Colo.; tapandhandle.com

Tony’s Darts Away
1710 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank, Calif.; tonysda.com

Toronado
547 Haight St., San Francisco; toronado.com

Toronado
4026 30th St., San Diego; toronadosd.com

The Trappist
460 8th St., Oakland, Calif.; thetrappist.com

 

Palm Tavern
2989 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., Milwaukee;  414.744.0393
You might wonder about the metal pineapple. It has kitsch appeal, but the story behind it is quite charming: The artist who restored the ornate pressed-tin ceiling created the cutout to represent the international symbol of hospitality and friendship. And that’s Palm Tavern. In the last decade, its Milwaukee’s Bay View neighborhood has transitioned from a traditional Polish enclave to the stomping ground for bohemians and young families; there’s an old-meets-new feeling in local bars and restaurants to match. In 2003, Palm Tavern opened with a humble locale and a huge list of rare Belgians, though now the menu leans toward American riffs; a binder offers Brother Thelonious on draft or a bottle of a New Belgium-Russian River collaboration. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, but bartenders heed the pineapple and are quick with samples and suggestions. Or, you can always take a cue from the jazz that fills the cozy, low-lit room, and improvise. –Tim Cigelske

7 Monks Taproom
128 S. Union St., Traverse City, Mich.; 7monkstap.com

Bangers & Lace
1670 W. Division St., Chicago; bangersandlacechicago.com

Bier Station
120 E. Gregory Blvd., Kansas City, Mo.; bierstation.com

Bridge
1004 Locust St., St. Louis; thebridgestl.com

Clubhouse BFD
2265 Crooks Rd., Rochester Hills, Mich.; chbfd.com

Crescent Moon
3578 Farnam St., Omaha, Neb.; beercornerusa.com

El Bait Shop
200 SW 2nd St., Des Moines, Iowa; elbaitshop.com

Fountainhead
1970 W. Montrose Ave., Chicago; fountainheadchicago.com

The Happy Gnome
498 Selby Ave., St. Paul, Minn.; thehappygnome.com

Heorot
219 S. Walnut St., Muncie, Ind.; facebook.com/heorot-pub-and-draught-house

HopCat
25 Ionia Ave. SW, Grand Rapids, Mich.; hopcatgr.com

Hopleaf
5148 N. Clark St., Chicago; hopleaf.com

International Tap House
1711 S. 9th St., St. Louis; internationaltaphouse.com

Krug Park
6205 Maple St., Omaha, Neb.; krugpark.com

Local Option
1102 W. Webster Ave., Chicago; localoptionbier.com

Map Room
1949 N. Hoyne Ave., Chicago; maproom.com

The Mitten Bar
109 W. Ludington Ave., Ludington, Mich.; facebook.com/mittenbar

Nano Brew
1859 W. 25th St., Cleveland; nanobrewcleveland.com

Republic
3001 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis; republicmn.com

Romans’ Pub
3475 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., Milwaukee; romanspub.com

Sugar Maple
441 E. Lincoln Ave., Milwaukee; mysugarmaple.com

 

Mahogany Bar
3810 Hardy St., Hattiesburg, Miss.; mahoganybar.net
A massive boar’s head watches over the scene; in these parts, he’s lovingly known as “The Hog.” Vinyl spins behind the bar, sometimes wavering through White Stripes songs I haven’t heard in years. After positioning myself between a few 30- and 40-somethings, I got down to the business of ordering: No small task, mind you, given there are 180 beers (give or take) on the menu. But here’s what’s so great about this place: Not only is every bartender Cicerone-certified, but on this particular day, two of the Hog’s Cicerones walked me through their beer selection, making particular note of Mississippi’s beloved locals and the most stellar IPAs they had on nitro. I chose from the latter, and one of the bartenders offered up an extra hop-shot: Using a French press, he infused my pint with fresh California hops for a custom brew unlike any I’d had before. Talk about Southern hospitality. –Carolyn Heneghan

Avenue Pub
1732 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans; theavenuepub.com

Beer Run
156 Carlton Rd. Suite 203, Charlottesville, Va.; beerrun.com

The Birch
1231 W. Olney Rd., Norfolk, Va.; thebirchbar.com

Brickstore Pub
125 E. Court Square, Decatur, Ga.; brickstorepub.com

Busy Bee Cafe
225 S. Wilmington St., Raleigh, N.C.; busybeeraleigh.com

Closed For Business
453 King St., Charleston, S.C.; closed4business.com

Growlers Pourhouse
3120 N. Davidson St., Charlotte, N.C.; growlerspourhouse.com

Holy Grale
1034 Bardstown Rd., Louisville, Ky.; holygralelouisville.com

Hops + Crafts
319 12th Ave. S., Nashville, Tenn.; hopscrafts.com

Laserwolf
901 Progresso Dr., Suite 101, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; laserwolf.com

Mr. Beery’s
2645 Mall Dr., Sarasota, Fla.; mrbeeryssrq.com

The Nook
3305 Bob Wallace Ave. SW, Huntsville, Ala.; thenooktavern.com

Oak Barrel Tavern
825 Savannah Hwy., Charleston, S.C.; 843.789.3686

Porter Beer Bar
1156 Euclid Ave. NE, Atlanta; theporterbeerbar.com

The Raleigh Times Bar
14 E. Hargett St., Raleigh, N.C.; raleightimesbar.com

Redlight Redlight
2810 Corrine Dr., Orlando, Fla.; redlightredlightbeerparlour.com

Sergio’s World Beers
1605 Story Ave., Louisville, Ky.; sergiosworldbeers.com

Tapwerks Alehouse & Café
121 E. Sheridan Ave., Oklahoma City; tapwerks.com

 

Tørst
615 Manhattan Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y.; torstnyc.com
You walk into Tørst on a chilly November evening to find a handful of Brooklynites sitting on Scandinavian chairs from the ’60s. They huddle comfortably in small groups around a few of the dozen reclaimed wood tables. A lone man with a worn leather Macbook sleeve hunkers down at the bar with a copy of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The House of the Seven Gables.” He sips a thick, delectable-looking beer from a wine glass. A “Shazam”-worthy playlist of R&B, Motown, funk and Greenpoint-approved indie rock plays unobtrusively from above. (“Your Woman,” from one-hit wonder White Town, will be the only song you recognize all night.) You read the beer list corraling 21 drafts and roughly 200 bottles. You order an 8-ounce Omnipollo Nebuchadnezzar double IPA fresh from Sweden; your friends, Olvisholt’s Lava and Thornbridge’s Raven Black IPA. A friendly bartender pours them from taps protruding from the wall, the color of the wooden handles arranged simply and elegantly from lightest to darkest. Your trio chats at one of the tables where tile meets wood on the wall at eye level. You enjoy the beer and the casual atmosphere. You consider another round. Perhaps a Brett Peat Daydream, a Maine Beer Co. Pepper or a B Space Invader? You struggle to decide. You end the night with a can of Hipster Ale from proprietor Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø’s Evil Twin brewing company. It tastes familiar but boasts a nice twist on tradition. –Noah Davis

Armsby Abbey
144 N. Main St., Worcester, Mass.; armsbyabbey.com

Beer Street
413 Graham Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y.; beerstreetnyc.com

Bierkraft
191 Fifth Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y.; bierkraft.com

Blind Tiger
281 Bleecker St., New York City; blindtigeralehouse.com

The Brewer’s Art
1106 N. Charles St., Baltimore; thebrewersart.com

Brouwerij Lane
78 Greenpoint Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y.; brouwerijlane.com

ChurchKey
1337 14th St. NW, Washington, D.C.; churchkeydc.com

Deep Ellum
477 Cambridge St., Allston, Mass.; deepellum-boston.com

Ebenezer’s Pub
44 Allen Rd., Lovell, Maine; ebenezerspub.net

Eulogy Belgian Tavern
136 Chestnut St., Philadelphia; eulogybar.com

The Great Lost Bear
540 Forest Ave., Portland, Maine; greatlostbear.com

The Grey Lodge Public House
6235 Frankford Ave., Philadelphia; greylodge.com

The Jeffrey
311 E. 60th St., New York City; jeffreynyc.com

Lord Hobo
92 Hampshire St., Cambridge, Mass.; lordhobo.com

Max’s Taphouse
737 S. Broadway, Baltimore; maxs.com

Memphis Taproom
2331 E. Cumberland St., Philadelphia; memphistaproom.com

Monk’s Café
264 S. 16th St., Philadelphia; monkscafe.com

Novare Res
4 Canal Plaza, Portland, Maine; novareresbiercafe.com

Proletariat
102 St. Marks Place, New York City; proletariatny.com

The Publick House
1648 Beacon St., Brookline, Mass.; thepublickhousebeerbar.com

Rattle N Hum
14 E. 33rd St., New York City; rattlenhumbarnyc.com

Strangeloves
216 S. 11th St., Philadelphia; strangelovesbeerbar.com

Spuyten Duyvil
359 Metropolitan Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y.; spuytenduyvilnyc.com

Teresa’s Next Door
124 N. Wayne Ave., Wayne, Pa.; teresas-cafe.com

Three Penny Taproom
108 Main St., Montpelier, Vt.; threepennytaproom.com

Top Hops Beer Shop
94 Orchard St., New York City; tophops.com