Dirck the Norseman / Brooklyn, N.Y.
Housed in what used to be a factory near the East River waterfront, colossal, industrial-chic “slashy” eatery-brewery Dirck the Norseman/Greenpoint Beer and Ale Co. opened in March, and is the latest, greatest project from Ed Raven (Brouwerij Lane, Raven Brands) and head brewer Chris Prout (Brouwerij Lane). Swing by for happy hour, when sun streams in through floor-to-ceiling windows alighting a huge square metal bar and sturdy communal tables. Treat yourself to Prout’s expert house beers like the Tupelo IPA, a dank, 9%-ABV hop bomb, or, on the other side of the spectrum, ready yourself for a few Fisticuffs that clock in at just 2.9% but are still soft, malty and brown-sugar-sweet. Rest assured, you won’t leave hungry: A small but swarthy menu of belly-filling pub grub like pig knuckles and brisket awaits. ORDER: Just snacking? Pick up fries and dipping sauces at the kitchen window and settle in with Clifford PL, a citrusy house pale ale.
Rhein Haus / Seattle
Step into Rhein Haus’s* immense, vaulted foyer, and you’re no longer in Seattle’s hipster-ish Capitol Hill; you’re at a raucous Bavarian bash, with communal tables toasting boot-shaped liters of lager and friendly competitors whooping and fist-pumping on five bocce courts.
Rhein Haus seats more than 400, but, the all-Cicerone staff still takes the time to get to know your palate, and bar manager Doug Wargo waxes rhapsodic on his drafts; he’s especially excited about “exceedingly small batches” from Tacoma’s Engine House No. 9 and the Methusalem Sour Altbier from The Monarchy brewery in Germany: “Boozy, with a tart dry finish, and a big dose of Brettanomyces funk, it’s unlike any German beer I’ve ever tasted.”
More than two dozen other taps lean heavy on Germans, of course—Veltins Pilsner, Auer Bier Teufel Helles Bock, Ayinger Bräu Weisse, and Paulaner’s Salvator—though there are a few Seattle staples, too. Rhein Haus’ house lager is crafted in Missoula, Mont., by Bayern Brewing; paired with the house-made beef goulash, it’s heavenly.
Speaking of nosh, don’t miss the house-made sausages—kielbasa, knackwurst, cheddarwurst—or any of the seven varieties of flammkuchen, a pizza-like flatbread. Scoring a seat in one of the two loft areas means you’ll have an easier time hearing your friends, but wherever you sit, you’ll have a view of the over-the-top décor sourced from five countries, like a gigantic clock that originally sat in a Paris metro and the stunning floor-to-ceiling fireplace imported from a German castle. ORDER: The Grillwurstl Schmankerl sausage sampler—four house-made sausages, a whopping 2 pounds of meat—and Hacker-Pschorr’s jaunty, caramely Dunkel Weisse.
* UPDATE: This article has been changed to reflect Rhein Haus’ new name; the restaurant was formerly known as Von Trapp’s.
Tripel / St. Louis
In the heart of the heartland, this elegantly wood-dressed, authentically Belgian eatery showcases the requisite lovely selection of moules frites, but introduces St. Louis diners to deeper cuts like Flanders staple kippenwaterzooi, a typically quiet, creamy, egg-based chicken stew with root vegetables. It is the beer, however, that gives the fledgling eatery real wings: The 40-plus bottles and 16 taps lean toward the motherland; beloved pours like Duvel and Gulden Draak 9000 are welcome surprises on draft. ORDER: Spring for classic Moules a la Marinière in white wine, and pair with the lemony, peppery Saison Dupont.
B Too / Washington, D.C.
As long as there’s been an American craft beer scene, there’s been chef Bart Vandaele reminding everyone where all the good ideas came from. Born in Belgium, he rocked D.C. with Euro beer haven Belga Café in 2004. But if Belga was Vandaele’s opus, B Too is his hit single. Here, he riffs on traditionals like mussels and stoemp, but goes wild at his charcoal Josper oven and waffle bar: The former chars steaks and lobster; the latter irons out apple-and-blood wafels for dinner, and beer-caramel and banana versions for dessert. As you’d expect from a guy knighted into Belgium’s Brewers’ Mashstaff, the beer is impeccable, corralling 150 Old and New World options with nearly as many different glasses to drink them from. ORDER: The Kasteel-brewed B Too Ale and a mussel waffle.