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Pubs we love: Shipping container bars

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The Container at Ska Brewing, photographed by Brent Bayless

The Container at Ska Brewing, photographed by Brent Bayless

Freight containers are reborn as some of the country’s coolest beer bars.

Austin, Texas // CONTAINER BAR
THE DETAILS: Opened in early 2014, this visually stunning, two-story complex of seven shipping containers arranged around a soar- ing covered patio is America’s most ambitious “cargotecture” bar to date. No surprise that it’s the brainchild of Bridget Dunlap, the master of reinven- tion whose rehabbed bungalow bars (like Clive) established Austin’s Rainey Street as a nightlife destination. THE SIPPING NEWS: The smooth, mildly spicy HefeWeizen from Live Oak, Austin’s oldest craft brewery, drinks easy on hot afternoons. SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL: The interior of each container bar is unique (one, for instance, has a winter motif, while another is embellished with a Technicolor geometric mural); part of the fun is exploring them all. 90 S. Rainey St., austincontainerbar.com 

Chicago, Illinois // PARSON’S CHICKEN AND FISH
THE DETAILS: Sure, its namesake dishes are super tasty, but it’s the Instagrammable outdoor bar that really makes this Logan Square spot shine. An L-shaped configuration of cargo containers fitted with flip-up windows and a wraparound bar anchors a spacious beer garden that’s one of the city’s most stylish. THE SIPPING NEWS: The program of ever-changing, interesting craft brews often features tap takeovers by local outfits like Solemn Oath. SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL: Rather than lying dormant during this year’s long Chicago winter, the beer garden was repurposed as an ice rink, with the container bar serving warming drinks. 2952 W. Armitage Ave., parsonschickenandfish.com

THE DETAILS: This southwestern Colorado brewery is serious about sustainability—it’s 100% wind-powered and insulated with recycled denim—so it’s only fitting that the owners jumped at the change to repurpose a friend’s disused cargo containers. The resulting double-decker tasting room addition is a gorgeous model of industrial-chic design. THE SIPPING NEWS: Look for the creamy, spearmint- and peppermint- infused Vernal Minthe, the spring installment of the brewery’s Seasonal Stout series. SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL: The first-floor container is outfitted with a petite kitchen that incorporates house brews into tasty bites like Steel Toe Stout brownies, while the second story’s large windows dish out stunning views of the mountain landscape. 225 Girard St., containeroffood.com

Las Vegas, Nevada // BIN 702
THE DETAILS: With its dark tones, rustic wood accents and swanky pendant lights, you’d hardly know that this sophisticated spot—part of the sprawling Downtown Container Park dreamed up by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh—began life as a shipping container. Incorporating a bar plus interior seating, the layout here is a masterclass in maximizing small spaces. THE SIPPING NEWS: Brewed right down the street, Banger’s Black Eye P.A. delivers a big mouthful of hops and dark malt. SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL: For a beer with a side of festival vibes, grab a seat overlooking the courtyard where bands play while, in the distance, a giant mantis sculpture (salvaged from Burning Man) shoots flames from its antennae. 707 Fremont St., bin702.com





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