I confess that when the e-mail came across my screen from Forbes inviting me to take a look at their choices for America’s Best Beer Bars that I was more than a little skeptical. Forbes has managed to mangle beer stories a number of times since I’ve been monitoring the mainstream media’s beer coverage, but this was from Forbes Traveler, a subdivision that, according to their e-mail, “focuses on the ultimate travel experience and [for which they] create features to keep [their] users up to date on the best vacations and newest travel trends around.”
In their latest feature, they set out to pick “The Best American Beer Bars,” no small feat. So there was a certain amount of schadenfreude that made me check out their list, expecting the worst. What I found was a pleasant surprise. I’ve been to seven of their ten choices, and was very familiar with all but one of the remaining three. And by personal knowledge or reputation, I’d say they put together an astonishingly good list, as these things go. And while there is plenty of personal bias that might cause any of us to wish they’d substitute this one or that one with a personal favorite, it’s hard to really quibble with any of these bars as being deserving. The one I would personally substitute is Monk’s Cafe (Philadelphia, PA), with which I’d replace the Brick Store Pub, but only because I’ve never heard of that one. It may very well be a fine place. It does appear as #16 on Rate Beer’s Best Beer Bars 2008 and #49 on Beer Advocate’s list of the Top 50 Beer Bars from 2005. And it came in at #2 on the Beer Mapping Project’s Highest Reviewed Locations, though it’s worth noting that #1 was Monk’s. There are also plenty of other great places that I’d wrestle with, too, like O’Briens or the Liar’s Club (both in San Diego), Lucky Baldwin (in Pasadena) or the Standard Tap (in Philly).
The Forbes’ choices are also accompanied by a nice story about the recent gains craft beer has been making in terms of both success and respect. The ten bars are listed below in the order they appear in the slideshow, which has photos of each bar along with what makes them special and useful contact information. I’m not clear if they’re meant to be in any particular order or not, but all in all a good list.
- Blind Tiger Ale House (New York, NY)
- Brickskeller (Washington, DC)
- Publick House and Monk’s Cell (Brookline, near Boston, MA)
- Brouwer’s Cafe (Seattle, WA)
- Brick Store Pub (Decatur, GA)
- Great Lost Bear (Portland, ME)
- Falling Rock Tap House (Denver, CO)
- Spuyten Duyvil (Brooklyn, NY)
- Toronado (San Francisco, CA)
- Hopleaf Bar (Chicago, IL)