Today's serious beer drinkers have it pretty good. OK, like, really good.
It's no secret that the country's craft beer revolution has been growing with fervor over the last decade -- filling taps, bottles and cans with a richly diverse array of inspired and boundary-pushing creations dreamed up by breweries both large and small.
There are the intensely hopped and aggressively aromatic double IPAs -- its fans' faces happily affected by the bitterness of the brews. For those looking to channel a different taste, there is an uprising of Belgian-inspired sour ales, daringly inoculated with various strains of wild yeasts and bacteria before receiving the barrel-aged treatment. And to satiate the curious, there is a constant stream of new elixirs to try -- perhaps fashioned from a just-discovered strain of hops or a less traditional grain (we're looking at you rye beer fanatics).
More so now than ever before, it seems as though beer has come into its own as a drink that demands to be taken seriously. The passion and excitement with which the knowledgeable community of beer geeks and hop-heads approaches the drink helps make it so. They're a tight but mostly inclusive crew, whose nerdy but infectious enthusiasm is eagerly shared.
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For these folks, a unique breed of bar exists. Places like San Francisco's Toronado Pub, favored for its well-curated list and divey, unpretentious vibe. Or ChurchKey, in Washington, D.C., whose menu includes a staggering collection of some 500 craft labels. You can find them everywhere, in major metropolitan brewing hubs (Monk's Café in Philadelphia, for example) to off-the-beaten-path locales (Belgian beer destination Ebenezer's Pub in Lovell, Maine).
To that end, we've put together a list of favorite and highly acclaimed bars across the country where the suds-swilling crowds go to geek out.
- Maryse Chevriere, The Daily Meal
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This destination for craft beer fanatics (and Belgian beer aficionados in particular) is hidden deep in the forests of upstate Maine. Still, anyone who has sampled from its extensive selection (700-plus bottles and 35 Belgian brews on tap) will quickly tell you it's worth the trip. Related: Click for the complete 20 Best Bars for Beer Geeks Photo Credit: © Flickr/Bernt Rostad
Our pick for one of the best craft beer bars in America (and a frequent topper on other authorities' lists), this Lower Haight bar is known for its well-curated beer list and unpretentious vibe. Look especially for hard-to-come-by brews from local California breweries. Related: Click for the complete 20 Best Bars for Beer Geeks Photo Credit: © Amber DeGrace/Amberdegrace.com
Hailed as the best beer bar in Boston by Boston Magazine, this popular spot has you covered on everything from local brews to exotic brands, with 35 taps and an approximate 170 bottles on offer. They also pride themselves on their "cuisine a la biere," a menu of delicious dishes designed to be eaten with beer. Related: Click for the complete 20 Best Bars for Beer Geeks Photo Credit: © Flickr/travlr
Loyalists have been known to set up camp outside this beloved brewpub for hours in the rain just to get a taste its rare, once-a-year-only Russian Imperial Stout, Kate the Great. The verdict: Totally worth it. Not to mention, beer expert Joshua M. Bernstein called their sampler trays "epic." Related: Click for the complete 20 Best Bars for Beer Geeks Photo Credit: © Jonathan Burr
Located on the rooftop of New York's Italian specialty food mecca, Eataly, this cool spot is a must-visit for fans of the burgeoning Italian craft beer trend. Not only is it the country's highest brewery on a man-made structure, the project is overseen by some serious industry heavy-hitters: Dogfish Head's Sam Calagione, Birra Baladin's Teo Musso, and Birra del Borgo's Leonardo Di Vincenzo. The three have come together to create three rotating original brews, often inspired by and made with seasonal ingredients from the market downstairs. Related: Click for the complete 20 Best Bars for Beer Geeks Photo Credit: © Maryse Chevriere
This bustling bar is a favorite in the city's hop-head scene, making it a formidable opponent against legacy The Brickskeller. The competition mainly drives from their 500 different choices of brews, with 50 different taps running, and five cask ales that are all expertly chosen. The informative, user-friendly menus and knowledgeable bartenders (if you can get their attention), help navigate the large selection so you can find exactly what you need. Related: Click for the complete 20 Best Bars for Beer Geeks Photo Credit: © Flickr/Bernt Rostad
Talk about a place that will inspire beer travel wanderlust: The walls here are covered with maps, travel books, and postcards sent to the bar. Beer geeks can choose from a large variety of local and not-so-local microbrews, carefully chosen to fill the bar's 26 taps, in-house cask, and 100-bottle beer list. Related: Click for the complete 20 Best Bars for Beer Geeks Photo Credit: © Flickr/Bernt Rostad
Good luck to the indecisive beer geek that comes in for a drink at this much-lauded spot. A frequent beer festival host, expert brew fanatic Casey Hard has helped stock Max's with an enviable selection that includes 100-plus taps, five casks, and more than 1,000 bottles. Related: Click for the complete 20 Best Bars for Beer Geeks Photo Credit: © Flickr/Daquella manera
This Philadelphia staple is known for having one of the country's best Belgian beer selections (any with doubts about how seriously they take the style need by try the house Flemish Sour Ale). While also known for having a string of bad luck in recent years, the bar's thoughtful collections, highly praised exclusive brews, and authentic Belgian food has kept any chance of business slowing down far away. Related: Click for the complete 20 Best Bars for Beer Geeks Photo Credit: © Flickr/ConspiracyofHappiness
The name alone should make this bar a draw to local and visiting hop-heads. The beer selection here is undeniably massive, offering everything from native-to-Chicago selections and American microbrews, to Lambics and Saison-style Belgians. But they go above and beyond by offering a great rotation of lectures and beer pairing dinners. Related: Click for the complete 20 Best Bars for Beer Geeks Photo Credit: © Flickr/Bernt Rostad
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