Cocktail Recipes, Spirits, and Local Bars

Draft Cocktails Catch on with Bars, Patrons

Draft Cocktails Catch on with Bars, Patrons

Customers thirsting for the flavor and flair of craft cocktails have an appealing new service option in some bars and restaurants — pre-batched signature drinks on draft that spare them the usual wait for muddling, shaking and stirring.

Although the craft cocktail on draft is a new phenomenon in the bar scene, bulk beverages, of course, are not. Beer and soda have flowed through faucets for ages. In the past several years, a growing number of wineries have packaged premium wine in kegs for easy tap service. Similarly, some watering holes dispense shots of Irish whiskey, bourbon and liqueurs from taps. Little wonder that the turnkey cocktail should dawn as well. Customers seem fascinated by the novelty, and perhaps the quick gratification, too, of a mixed drink served with just a flick of the bartender’s wrist.

At Jasper’s Corner Tap & Kitchen, a new Kimpton restaurant in San Francisco, the Negroni cocktail on draft has become a cult item, reported bar manager Kevin Diedrich.

The formula is equal parts Plymouth gin, Campari and house vermouth, the latter a blend of Punt e Mes and Cinzano, mixed in soft-drink kegs in house. It is served on the rocks from a draft system that also pours keg wine at the bar.

“The idea is neat and kind of geeky, but fun as well,” Diedrich said. Area restaurant employees were the first fans of the drink at Jasper’s, but it soon caught on with guests in general. In fact, the first keg sold out in a day and a half. “Consumers love trends and little quirky things,” Diedrich said.

The fact that it takes just five seconds to serve a draft Negroni is a bonus for Jasper’s bartenders, who handle 300 orders on the busiest nights, not to mention impatient patrons.

“You don’t have to jigger it or stir it in a mixing glass,” Diedrich said. “It gets you out of the weeds pretty quickly.”


11 Telltale Signs You’re in a Great Craft Beer Bar

Craft beer bars are everywhere these days. There are good ones, and there are bad ones. Then, there are great ones.

The abundance of beer-focused establishments is a natural progression in the U.S., considering most of us live within 10 miles of a brewery. But not all beer bars are created equally.

Some are stuck in the past, carrying outdated brands and ignoring the local beer renaissance in their cities. Some jump on the craft beer trend without really knowing the product or how to serve it. And some, though they may have good intentions, boast bottle or draft selections hundreds of brands long, which is an impressive feat until you order an IPA that’s not fresh.

Every Beer Lover Needs This Hop Aroma Poster

We’ve visited hundreds of beer bars around the country and world. Finding the ones worth going back to comes down to a handful of qualities that are easy to spot once you know what to look for. Here are 11 telltale signs you’re in a great craft beer bar.

It’s clean as a whistle. At least, parts of it are.

Not every great beer bar is sparkling, but even the grungy ones care about keeping a few key things clean, such as glassware, draft lines, and bathroom(s). Learn more about the importance of clean draft lines here.

It’s stocked with proper glassware.

A bar that serves its brews exclusively in Tekus cares a lot about its beer — and its image. That’s great! We don’t think all beer needs to be served in stemware, but no one wants a thimble of lager or a mug full of 13-percent-ABV pastry stout. A great beer bar will serve beer in style-appropriate glassware. Sour ales in snifters, hefeweizens in their eponymous vessels, or basically anything in a tulip glass is fair game. Pilsners and IPAs in pint glasses are O.K., but you better drink quickly before the beer warms in your hand. (And good luck getting any aroma!)

The beer is cold, not freezing.

The only thing that should cool down a glass that’s about to have beer in it is a splash of cool water. (Ideally, this occurs via a very nifty glass rinser, also known as a star sink.) If your bartender serves your IPA in a glass that came out of a freezer, you are not in a great craft beer bar. You’re in a sports bar that is, sadly, misinformed.

As a general rule, you want your glass at room temperature so you can appreciate the beer’s flavors. But, Goldilocks, if a bartender serves you beer that’s too warm, don’t be afraid to mention the problem. Either they tapped a keg that was sitting in the heat too long (if that’s the case, the beer will also be super foamy), or there’s something up with the cooler.

The menu is never accurate.

This may seem counterintuitive, and it can be irritating at first, but a messy menu is often a good sign. It means the bar has a rotating draft menu and is selling beer quickly. As soon as one beer kicks, a new one goes up, and the servers don’t get the chance to print a new menu or climb up up the counter to update the chalkboard fast enough. A great beer bar menu might be a beer-stained piece of paper with items scribbled out. Or, it’s a beautifully color-coded chalkboard menu, because the bar was slow earlier that day. (To be fair, it was Tuesday.)

Servers don’t judge you for ordering a lager.

Although it’s unlikely Bud Light will be on tap at a craft-centric beer bar, if that’s your thing, don’t be afraid to say it! (Nicely.) Any quality establishment invests in training its staff and offering excellent service. In this case, the server will hear your Bud Light request and point you toward a similar beer they think you might like. A Night Shift Nite Lite, perhaps, or a Firestone Lager. And, after their shift, you might catch them drinking a High Life at the dive across the street.

The tap list is locally focused.

Granted, this is a relatively new sign of a great craft beer bar. (Ten years ago, most cities simply didn’t have a lot of local breweries. It was a dark time.) At a contemporary craft beer bar, the menu will almost always be stacked with local options. A few regional or imported favorites are much appreciated, too.

Beers appeal to many palates.

Craft beers can be intimidating, and they would be even scarier if their menus had nothing but kettle sours and double IPAs. Unless there’s a special event showcasing a specific type of beer, a great bar curates its menu to include a variety of styles, flavor profiles, and alcohol levels. A super-acidic fruited sour will be complemented by a farmhouse ale, stout, lager, and, probably, several IPAs.

It gets by with a little help from its friends.

Beer bars almost always have some sort of sign, literally or otherwise, that they are involved in their community. Perhaps a local photographer’s artwork is on the walls (watch what you say — she’s a regular here). There might be an event next week raising money for a patron who’s paying off hospital bills. Or, if you’re really lucky, there’s an annual pet costume contest. Whatever the case, warm and fuzzies abound.

There are ‘regulars.’

This one is certainly not unique to craft beer bars, but familiar faces signal you’re in a place people like coming back to. If the bartender is friendly with people across the bar, they’re either buddies, folks in the industry (also a good sign), or they just really love it here.

It wears beer on its sleeve.

Several beer bars we love sell their own branded merchandise, from T-shirts to stickers to tote bags (the author is currently using such a tote). This is not something you need to look for in a great beer bar. What will more accurately signal you’re in a place full of beer lovers is that at least one person is wearing a brewery tee, cap, or hoodie. Again, be careful what you say — it might be the brewer wearing it.

It’s friendly and open to all.

We can’t promise there won’t be a few geeks glued to their Untappd accounts, but the beer snob stereotype is mostly myth — and talented service professionals do their best to keep it that way. Patrons at great beer bars are there to hang out with friends, have a few laughs, and drink tasty brews. Their hosts are inclusive of all beer drinkers and are queer-friendly, women-friendly, dog-friendly (maybe), and kid-friendly (groan). At the end of the day, we’re all just looking for a good place to get a beer.


11 Telltale Signs You’re in a Great Craft Beer Bar

Craft beer bars are everywhere these days. There are good ones, and there are bad ones. Then, there are great ones.

The abundance of beer-focused establishments is a natural progression in the U.S., considering most of us live within 10 miles of a brewery. But not all beer bars are created equally.

Some are stuck in the past, carrying outdated brands and ignoring the local beer renaissance in their cities. Some jump on the craft beer trend without really knowing the product or how to serve it. And some, though they may have good intentions, boast bottle or draft selections hundreds of brands long, which is an impressive feat until you order an IPA that’s not fresh.

Every Beer Lover Needs This Hop Aroma Poster

We’ve visited hundreds of beer bars around the country and world. Finding the ones worth going back to comes down to a handful of qualities that are easy to spot once you know what to look for. Here are 11 telltale signs you’re in a great craft beer bar.

It’s clean as a whistle. At least, parts of it are.

Not every great beer bar is sparkling, but even the grungy ones care about keeping a few key things clean, such as glassware, draft lines, and bathroom(s). Learn more about the importance of clean draft lines here.

It’s stocked with proper glassware.

A bar that serves its brews exclusively in Tekus cares a lot about its beer — and its image. That’s great! We don’t think all beer needs to be served in stemware, but no one wants a thimble of lager or a mug full of 13-percent-ABV pastry stout. A great beer bar will serve beer in style-appropriate glassware. Sour ales in snifters, hefeweizens in their eponymous vessels, or basically anything in a tulip glass is fair game. Pilsners and IPAs in pint glasses are O.K., but you better drink quickly before the beer warms in your hand. (And good luck getting any aroma!)

The beer is cold, not freezing.

The only thing that should cool down a glass that’s about to have beer in it is a splash of cool water. (Ideally, this occurs via a very nifty glass rinser, also known as a star sink.) If your bartender serves your IPA in a glass that came out of a freezer, you are not in a great craft beer bar. You’re in a sports bar that is, sadly, misinformed.

As a general rule, you want your glass at room temperature so you can appreciate the beer’s flavors. But, Goldilocks, if a bartender serves you beer that’s too warm, don’t be afraid to mention the problem. Either they tapped a keg that was sitting in the heat too long (if that’s the case, the beer will also be super foamy), or there’s something up with the cooler.

The menu is never accurate.

This may seem counterintuitive, and it can be irritating at first, but a messy menu is often a good sign. It means the bar has a rotating draft menu and is selling beer quickly. As soon as one beer kicks, a new one goes up, and the servers don’t get the chance to print a new menu or climb up up the counter to update the chalkboard fast enough. A great beer bar menu might be a beer-stained piece of paper with items scribbled out. Or, it’s a beautifully color-coded chalkboard menu, because the bar was slow earlier that day. (To be fair, it was Tuesday.)

Servers don’t judge you for ordering a lager.

Although it’s unlikely Bud Light will be on tap at a craft-centric beer bar, if that’s your thing, don’t be afraid to say it! (Nicely.) Any quality establishment invests in training its staff and offering excellent service. In this case, the server will hear your Bud Light request and point you toward a similar beer they think you might like. A Night Shift Nite Lite, perhaps, or a Firestone Lager. And, after their shift, you might catch them drinking a High Life at the dive across the street.

The tap list is locally focused.

Granted, this is a relatively new sign of a great craft beer bar. (Ten years ago, most cities simply didn’t have a lot of local breweries. It was a dark time.) At a contemporary craft beer bar, the menu will almost always be stacked with local options. A few regional or imported favorites are much appreciated, too.

Beers appeal to many palates.

Craft beers can be intimidating, and they would be even scarier if their menus had nothing but kettle sours and double IPAs. Unless there’s a special event showcasing a specific type of beer, a great bar curates its menu to include a variety of styles, flavor profiles, and alcohol levels. A super-acidic fruited sour will be complemented by a farmhouse ale, stout, lager, and, probably, several IPAs.

It gets by with a little help from its friends.

Beer bars almost always have some sort of sign, literally or otherwise, that they are involved in their community. Perhaps a local photographer’s artwork is on the walls (watch what you say — she’s a regular here). There might be an event next week raising money for a patron who’s paying off hospital bills. Or, if you’re really lucky, there’s an annual pet costume contest. Whatever the case, warm and fuzzies abound.

There are ‘regulars.’

This one is certainly not unique to craft beer bars, but familiar faces signal you’re in a place people like coming back to. If the bartender is friendly with people across the bar, they’re either buddies, folks in the industry (also a good sign), or they just really love it here.

It wears beer on its sleeve.

Several beer bars we love sell their own branded merchandise, from T-shirts to stickers to tote bags (the author is currently using such a tote). This is not something you need to look for in a great beer bar. What will more accurately signal you’re in a place full of beer lovers is that at least one person is wearing a brewery tee, cap, or hoodie. Again, be careful what you say — it might be the brewer wearing it.

It’s friendly and open to all.

We can’t promise there won’t be a few geeks glued to their Untappd accounts, but the beer snob stereotype is mostly myth — and talented service professionals do their best to keep it that way. Patrons at great beer bars are there to hang out with friends, have a few laughs, and drink tasty brews. Their hosts are inclusive of all beer drinkers and are queer-friendly, women-friendly, dog-friendly (maybe), and kid-friendly (groan). At the end of the day, we’re all just looking for a good place to get a beer.


11 Telltale Signs You’re in a Great Craft Beer Bar

Craft beer bars are everywhere these days. There are good ones, and there are bad ones. Then, there are great ones.

The abundance of beer-focused establishments is a natural progression in the U.S., considering most of us live within 10 miles of a brewery. But not all beer bars are created equally.

Some are stuck in the past, carrying outdated brands and ignoring the local beer renaissance in their cities. Some jump on the craft beer trend without really knowing the product or how to serve it. And some, though they may have good intentions, boast bottle or draft selections hundreds of brands long, which is an impressive feat until you order an IPA that’s not fresh.

Every Beer Lover Needs This Hop Aroma Poster

We’ve visited hundreds of beer bars around the country and world. Finding the ones worth going back to comes down to a handful of qualities that are easy to spot once you know what to look for. Here are 11 telltale signs you’re in a great craft beer bar.

It’s clean as a whistle. At least, parts of it are.

Not every great beer bar is sparkling, but even the grungy ones care about keeping a few key things clean, such as glassware, draft lines, and bathroom(s). Learn more about the importance of clean draft lines here.

It’s stocked with proper glassware.

A bar that serves its brews exclusively in Tekus cares a lot about its beer — and its image. That’s great! We don’t think all beer needs to be served in stemware, but no one wants a thimble of lager or a mug full of 13-percent-ABV pastry stout. A great beer bar will serve beer in style-appropriate glassware. Sour ales in snifters, hefeweizens in their eponymous vessels, or basically anything in a tulip glass is fair game. Pilsners and IPAs in pint glasses are O.K., but you better drink quickly before the beer warms in your hand. (And good luck getting any aroma!)

The beer is cold, not freezing.

The only thing that should cool down a glass that’s about to have beer in it is a splash of cool water. (Ideally, this occurs via a very nifty glass rinser, also known as a star sink.) If your bartender serves your IPA in a glass that came out of a freezer, you are not in a great craft beer bar. You’re in a sports bar that is, sadly, misinformed.

As a general rule, you want your glass at room temperature so you can appreciate the beer’s flavors. But, Goldilocks, if a bartender serves you beer that’s too warm, don’t be afraid to mention the problem. Either they tapped a keg that was sitting in the heat too long (if that’s the case, the beer will also be super foamy), or there’s something up with the cooler.

The menu is never accurate.

This may seem counterintuitive, and it can be irritating at first, but a messy menu is often a good sign. It means the bar has a rotating draft menu and is selling beer quickly. As soon as one beer kicks, a new one goes up, and the servers don’t get the chance to print a new menu or climb up up the counter to update the chalkboard fast enough. A great beer bar menu might be a beer-stained piece of paper with items scribbled out. Or, it’s a beautifully color-coded chalkboard menu, because the bar was slow earlier that day. (To be fair, it was Tuesday.)

Servers don’t judge you for ordering a lager.

Although it’s unlikely Bud Light will be on tap at a craft-centric beer bar, if that’s your thing, don’t be afraid to say it! (Nicely.) Any quality establishment invests in training its staff and offering excellent service. In this case, the server will hear your Bud Light request and point you toward a similar beer they think you might like. A Night Shift Nite Lite, perhaps, or a Firestone Lager. And, after their shift, you might catch them drinking a High Life at the dive across the street.

The tap list is locally focused.

Granted, this is a relatively new sign of a great craft beer bar. (Ten years ago, most cities simply didn’t have a lot of local breweries. It was a dark time.) At a contemporary craft beer bar, the menu will almost always be stacked with local options. A few regional or imported favorites are much appreciated, too.

Beers appeal to many palates.

Craft beers can be intimidating, and they would be even scarier if their menus had nothing but kettle sours and double IPAs. Unless there’s a special event showcasing a specific type of beer, a great bar curates its menu to include a variety of styles, flavor profiles, and alcohol levels. A super-acidic fruited sour will be complemented by a farmhouse ale, stout, lager, and, probably, several IPAs.

It gets by with a little help from its friends.

Beer bars almost always have some sort of sign, literally or otherwise, that they are involved in their community. Perhaps a local photographer’s artwork is on the walls (watch what you say — she’s a regular here). There might be an event next week raising money for a patron who’s paying off hospital bills. Or, if you’re really lucky, there’s an annual pet costume contest. Whatever the case, warm and fuzzies abound.

There are ‘regulars.’

This one is certainly not unique to craft beer bars, but familiar faces signal you’re in a place people like coming back to. If the bartender is friendly with people across the bar, they’re either buddies, folks in the industry (also a good sign), or they just really love it here.

It wears beer on its sleeve.

Several beer bars we love sell their own branded merchandise, from T-shirts to stickers to tote bags (the author is currently using such a tote). This is not something you need to look for in a great beer bar. What will more accurately signal you’re in a place full of beer lovers is that at least one person is wearing a brewery tee, cap, or hoodie. Again, be careful what you say — it might be the brewer wearing it.

It’s friendly and open to all.

We can’t promise there won’t be a few geeks glued to their Untappd accounts, but the beer snob stereotype is mostly myth — and talented service professionals do their best to keep it that way. Patrons at great beer bars are there to hang out with friends, have a few laughs, and drink tasty brews. Their hosts are inclusive of all beer drinkers and are queer-friendly, women-friendly, dog-friendly (maybe), and kid-friendly (groan). At the end of the day, we’re all just looking for a good place to get a beer.


11 Telltale Signs You’re in a Great Craft Beer Bar

Craft beer bars are everywhere these days. There are good ones, and there are bad ones. Then, there are great ones.

The abundance of beer-focused establishments is a natural progression in the U.S., considering most of us live within 10 miles of a brewery. But not all beer bars are created equally.

Some are stuck in the past, carrying outdated brands and ignoring the local beer renaissance in their cities. Some jump on the craft beer trend without really knowing the product or how to serve it. And some, though they may have good intentions, boast bottle or draft selections hundreds of brands long, which is an impressive feat until you order an IPA that’s not fresh.

Every Beer Lover Needs This Hop Aroma Poster

We’ve visited hundreds of beer bars around the country and world. Finding the ones worth going back to comes down to a handful of qualities that are easy to spot once you know what to look for. Here are 11 telltale signs you’re in a great craft beer bar.

It’s clean as a whistle. At least, parts of it are.

Not every great beer bar is sparkling, but even the grungy ones care about keeping a few key things clean, such as glassware, draft lines, and bathroom(s). Learn more about the importance of clean draft lines here.

It’s stocked with proper glassware.

A bar that serves its brews exclusively in Tekus cares a lot about its beer — and its image. That’s great! We don’t think all beer needs to be served in stemware, but no one wants a thimble of lager or a mug full of 13-percent-ABV pastry stout. A great beer bar will serve beer in style-appropriate glassware. Sour ales in snifters, hefeweizens in their eponymous vessels, or basically anything in a tulip glass is fair game. Pilsners and IPAs in pint glasses are O.K., but you better drink quickly before the beer warms in your hand. (And good luck getting any aroma!)

The beer is cold, not freezing.

The only thing that should cool down a glass that’s about to have beer in it is a splash of cool water. (Ideally, this occurs via a very nifty glass rinser, also known as a star sink.) If your bartender serves your IPA in a glass that came out of a freezer, you are not in a great craft beer bar. You’re in a sports bar that is, sadly, misinformed.

As a general rule, you want your glass at room temperature so you can appreciate the beer’s flavors. But, Goldilocks, if a bartender serves you beer that’s too warm, don’t be afraid to mention the problem. Either they tapped a keg that was sitting in the heat too long (if that’s the case, the beer will also be super foamy), or there’s something up with the cooler.

The menu is never accurate.

This may seem counterintuitive, and it can be irritating at first, but a messy menu is often a good sign. It means the bar has a rotating draft menu and is selling beer quickly. As soon as one beer kicks, a new one goes up, and the servers don’t get the chance to print a new menu or climb up up the counter to update the chalkboard fast enough. A great beer bar menu might be a beer-stained piece of paper with items scribbled out. Or, it’s a beautifully color-coded chalkboard menu, because the bar was slow earlier that day. (To be fair, it was Tuesday.)

Servers don’t judge you for ordering a lager.

Although it’s unlikely Bud Light will be on tap at a craft-centric beer bar, if that’s your thing, don’t be afraid to say it! (Nicely.) Any quality establishment invests in training its staff and offering excellent service. In this case, the server will hear your Bud Light request and point you toward a similar beer they think you might like. A Night Shift Nite Lite, perhaps, or a Firestone Lager. And, after their shift, you might catch them drinking a High Life at the dive across the street.

The tap list is locally focused.

Granted, this is a relatively new sign of a great craft beer bar. (Ten years ago, most cities simply didn’t have a lot of local breweries. It was a dark time.) At a contemporary craft beer bar, the menu will almost always be stacked with local options. A few regional or imported favorites are much appreciated, too.

Beers appeal to many palates.

Craft beers can be intimidating, and they would be even scarier if their menus had nothing but kettle sours and double IPAs. Unless there’s a special event showcasing a specific type of beer, a great bar curates its menu to include a variety of styles, flavor profiles, and alcohol levels. A super-acidic fruited sour will be complemented by a farmhouse ale, stout, lager, and, probably, several IPAs.

It gets by with a little help from its friends.

Beer bars almost always have some sort of sign, literally or otherwise, that they are involved in their community. Perhaps a local photographer’s artwork is on the walls (watch what you say — she’s a regular here). There might be an event next week raising money for a patron who’s paying off hospital bills. Or, if you’re really lucky, there’s an annual pet costume contest. Whatever the case, warm and fuzzies abound.

There are ‘regulars.’

This one is certainly not unique to craft beer bars, but familiar faces signal you’re in a place people like coming back to. If the bartender is friendly with people across the bar, they’re either buddies, folks in the industry (also a good sign), or they just really love it here.

It wears beer on its sleeve.

Several beer bars we love sell their own branded merchandise, from T-shirts to stickers to tote bags (the author is currently using such a tote). This is not something you need to look for in a great beer bar. What will more accurately signal you’re in a place full of beer lovers is that at least one person is wearing a brewery tee, cap, or hoodie. Again, be careful what you say — it might be the brewer wearing it.

It’s friendly and open to all.

We can’t promise there won’t be a few geeks glued to their Untappd accounts, but the beer snob stereotype is mostly myth — and talented service professionals do their best to keep it that way. Patrons at great beer bars are there to hang out with friends, have a few laughs, and drink tasty brews. Their hosts are inclusive of all beer drinkers and are queer-friendly, women-friendly, dog-friendly (maybe), and kid-friendly (groan). At the end of the day, we’re all just looking for a good place to get a beer.


11 Telltale Signs You’re in a Great Craft Beer Bar

Craft beer bars are everywhere these days. There are good ones, and there are bad ones. Then, there are great ones.

The abundance of beer-focused establishments is a natural progression in the U.S., considering most of us live within 10 miles of a brewery. But not all beer bars are created equally.

Some are stuck in the past, carrying outdated brands and ignoring the local beer renaissance in their cities. Some jump on the craft beer trend without really knowing the product or how to serve it. And some, though they may have good intentions, boast bottle or draft selections hundreds of brands long, which is an impressive feat until you order an IPA that’s not fresh.

Every Beer Lover Needs This Hop Aroma Poster

We’ve visited hundreds of beer bars around the country and world. Finding the ones worth going back to comes down to a handful of qualities that are easy to spot once you know what to look for. Here are 11 telltale signs you’re in a great craft beer bar.

It’s clean as a whistle. At least, parts of it are.

Not every great beer bar is sparkling, but even the grungy ones care about keeping a few key things clean, such as glassware, draft lines, and bathroom(s). Learn more about the importance of clean draft lines here.

It’s stocked with proper glassware.

A bar that serves its brews exclusively in Tekus cares a lot about its beer — and its image. That’s great! We don’t think all beer needs to be served in stemware, but no one wants a thimble of lager or a mug full of 13-percent-ABV pastry stout. A great beer bar will serve beer in style-appropriate glassware. Sour ales in snifters, hefeweizens in their eponymous vessels, or basically anything in a tulip glass is fair game. Pilsners and IPAs in pint glasses are O.K., but you better drink quickly before the beer warms in your hand. (And good luck getting any aroma!)

The beer is cold, not freezing.

The only thing that should cool down a glass that’s about to have beer in it is a splash of cool water. (Ideally, this occurs via a very nifty glass rinser, also known as a star sink.) If your bartender serves your IPA in a glass that came out of a freezer, you are not in a great craft beer bar. You’re in a sports bar that is, sadly, misinformed.

As a general rule, you want your glass at room temperature so you can appreciate the beer’s flavors. But, Goldilocks, if a bartender serves you beer that’s too warm, don’t be afraid to mention the problem. Either they tapped a keg that was sitting in the heat too long (if that’s the case, the beer will also be super foamy), or there’s something up with the cooler.

The menu is never accurate.

This may seem counterintuitive, and it can be irritating at first, but a messy menu is often a good sign. It means the bar has a rotating draft menu and is selling beer quickly. As soon as one beer kicks, a new one goes up, and the servers don’t get the chance to print a new menu or climb up up the counter to update the chalkboard fast enough. A great beer bar menu might be a beer-stained piece of paper with items scribbled out. Or, it’s a beautifully color-coded chalkboard menu, because the bar was slow earlier that day. (To be fair, it was Tuesday.)

Servers don’t judge you for ordering a lager.

Although it’s unlikely Bud Light will be on tap at a craft-centric beer bar, if that’s your thing, don’t be afraid to say it! (Nicely.) Any quality establishment invests in training its staff and offering excellent service. In this case, the server will hear your Bud Light request and point you toward a similar beer they think you might like. A Night Shift Nite Lite, perhaps, or a Firestone Lager. And, after their shift, you might catch them drinking a High Life at the dive across the street.

The tap list is locally focused.

Granted, this is a relatively new sign of a great craft beer bar. (Ten years ago, most cities simply didn’t have a lot of local breweries. It was a dark time.) At a contemporary craft beer bar, the menu will almost always be stacked with local options. A few regional or imported favorites are much appreciated, too.

Beers appeal to many palates.

Craft beers can be intimidating, and they would be even scarier if their menus had nothing but kettle sours and double IPAs. Unless there’s a special event showcasing a specific type of beer, a great bar curates its menu to include a variety of styles, flavor profiles, and alcohol levels. A super-acidic fruited sour will be complemented by a farmhouse ale, stout, lager, and, probably, several IPAs.

It gets by with a little help from its friends.

Beer bars almost always have some sort of sign, literally or otherwise, that they are involved in their community. Perhaps a local photographer’s artwork is on the walls (watch what you say — she’s a regular here). There might be an event next week raising money for a patron who’s paying off hospital bills. Or, if you’re really lucky, there’s an annual pet costume contest. Whatever the case, warm and fuzzies abound.

There are ‘regulars.’

This one is certainly not unique to craft beer bars, but familiar faces signal you’re in a place people like coming back to. If the bartender is friendly with people across the bar, they’re either buddies, folks in the industry (also a good sign), or they just really love it here.

It wears beer on its sleeve.

Several beer bars we love sell their own branded merchandise, from T-shirts to stickers to tote bags (the author is currently using such a tote). This is not something you need to look for in a great beer bar. What will more accurately signal you’re in a place full of beer lovers is that at least one person is wearing a brewery tee, cap, or hoodie. Again, be careful what you say — it might be the brewer wearing it.

It’s friendly and open to all.

We can’t promise there won’t be a few geeks glued to their Untappd accounts, but the beer snob stereotype is mostly myth — and talented service professionals do their best to keep it that way. Patrons at great beer bars are there to hang out with friends, have a few laughs, and drink tasty brews. Their hosts are inclusive of all beer drinkers and are queer-friendly, women-friendly, dog-friendly (maybe), and kid-friendly (groan). At the end of the day, we’re all just looking for a good place to get a beer.


11 Telltale Signs You’re in a Great Craft Beer Bar

Craft beer bars are everywhere these days. There are good ones, and there are bad ones. Then, there are great ones.

The abundance of beer-focused establishments is a natural progression in the U.S., considering most of us live within 10 miles of a brewery. But not all beer bars are created equally.

Some are stuck in the past, carrying outdated brands and ignoring the local beer renaissance in their cities. Some jump on the craft beer trend without really knowing the product or how to serve it. And some, though they may have good intentions, boast bottle or draft selections hundreds of brands long, which is an impressive feat until you order an IPA that’s not fresh.

Every Beer Lover Needs This Hop Aroma Poster

We’ve visited hundreds of beer bars around the country and world. Finding the ones worth going back to comes down to a handful of qualities that are easy to spot once you know what to look for. Here are 11 telltale signs you’re in a great craft beer bar.

It’s clean as a whistle. At least, parts of it are.

Not every great beer bar is sparkling, but even the grungy ones care about keeping a few key things clean, such as glassware, draft lines, and bathroom(s). Learn more about the importance of clean draft lines here.

It’s stocked with proper glassware.

A bar that serves its brews exclusively in Tekus cares a lot about its beer — and its image. That’s great! We don’t think all beer needs to be served in stemware, but no one wants a thimble of lager or a mug full of 13-percent-ABV pastry stout. A great beer bar will serve beer in style-appropriate glassware. Sour ales in snifters, hefeweizens in their eponymous vessels, or basically anything in a tulip glass is fair game. Pilsners and IPAs in pint glasses are O.K., but you better drink quickly before the beer warms in your hand. (And good luck getting any aroma!)

The beer is cold, not freezing.

The only thing that should cool down a glass that’s about to have beer in it is a splash of cool water. (Ideally, this occurs via a very nifty glass rinser, also known as a star sink.) If your bartender serves your IPA in a glass that came out of a freezer, you are not in a great craft beer bar. You’re in a sports bar that is, sadly, misinformed.

As a general rule, you want your glass at room temperature so you can appreciate the beer’s flavors. But, Goldilocks, if a bartender serves you beer that’s too warm, don’t be afraid to mention the problem. Either they tapped a keg that was sitting in the heat too long (if that’s the case, the beer will also be super foamy), or there’s something up with the cooler.

The menu is never accurate.

This may seem counterintuitive, and it can be irritating at first, but a messy menu is often a good sign. It means the bar has a rotating draft menu and is selling beer quickly. As soon as one beer kicks, a new one goes up, and the servers don’t get the chance to print a new menu or climb up up the counter to update the chalkboard fast enough. A great beer bar menu might be a beer-stained piece of paper with items scribbled out. Or, it’s a beautifully color-coded chalkboard menu, because the bar was slow earlier that day. (To be fair, it was Tuesday.)

Servers don’t judge you for ordering a lager.

Although it’s unlikely Bud Light will be on tap at a craft-centric beer bar, if that’s your thing, don’t be afraid to say it! (Nicely.) Any quality establishment invests in training its staff and offering excellent service. In this case, the server will hear your Bud Light request and point you toward a similar beer they think you might like. A Night Shift Nite Lite, perhaps, or a Firestone Lager. And, after their shift, you might catch them drinking a High Life at the dive across the street.

The tap list is locally focused.

Granted, this is a relatively new sign of a great craft beer bar. (Ten years ago, most cities simply didn’t have a lot of local breweries. It was a dark time.) At a contemporary craft beer bar, the menu will almost always be stacked with local options. A few regional or imported favorites are much appreciated, too.

Beers appeal to many palates.

Craft beers can be intimidating, and they would be even scarier if their menus had nothing but kettle sours and double IPAs. Unless there’s a special event showcasing a specific type of beer, a great bar curates its menu to include a variety of styles, flavor profiles, and alcohol levels. A super-acidic fruited sour will be complemented by a farmhouse ale, stout, lager, and, probably, several IPAs.

It gets by with a little help from its friends.

Beer bars almost always have some sort of sign, literally or otherwise, that they are involved in their community. Perhaps a local photographer’s artwork is on the walls (watch what you say — she’s a regular here). There might be an event next week raising money for a patron who’s paying off hospital bills. Or, if you’re really lucky, there’s an annual pet costume contest. Whatever the case, warm and fuzzies abound.

There are ‘regulars.’

This one is certainly not unique to craft beer bars, but familiar faces signal you’re in a place people like coming back to. If the bartender is friendly with people across the bar, they’re either buddies, folks in the industry (also a good sign), or they just really love it here.

It wears beer on its sleeve.

Several beer bars we love sell their own branded merchandise, from T-shirts to stickers to tote bags (the author is currently using such a tote). This is not something you need to look for in a great beer bar. What will more accurately signal you’re in a place full of beer lovers is that at least one person is wearing a brewery tee, cap, or hoodie. Again, be careful what you say — it might be the brewer wearing it.

It’s friendly and open to all.

We can’t promise there won’t be a few geeks glued to their Untappd accounts, but the beer snob stereotype is mostly myth — and talented service professionals do their best to keep it that way. Patrons at great beer bars are there to hang out with friends, have a few laughs, and drink tasty brews. Their hosts are inclusive of all beer drinkers and are queer-friendly, women-friendly, dog-friendly (maybe), and kid-friendly (groan). At the end of the day, we’re all just looking for a good place to get a beer.


11 Telltale Signs You’re in a Great Craft Beer Bar

Craft beer bars are everywhere these days. There are good ones, and there are bad ones. Then, there are great ones.

The abundance of beer-focused establishments is a natural progression in the U.S., considering most of us live within 10 miles of a brewery. But not all beer bars are created equally.

Some are stuck in the past, carrying outdated brands and ignoring the local beer renaissance in their cities. Some jump on the craft beer trend without really knowing the product or how to serve it. And some, though they may have good intentions, boast bottle or draft selections hundreds of brands long, which is an impressive feat until you order an IPA that’s not fresh.

Every Beer Lover Needs This Hop Aroma Poster

We’ve visited hundreds of beer bars around the country and world. Finding the ones worth going back to comes down to a handful of qualities that are easy to spot once you know what to look for. Here are 11 telltale signs you’re in a great craft beer bar.

It’s clean as a whistle. At least, parts of it are.

Not every great beer bar is sparkling, but even the grungy ones care about keeping a few key things clean, such as glassware, draft lines, and bathroom(s). Learn more about the importance of clean draft lines here.

It’s stocked with proper glassware.

A bar that serves its brews exclusively in Tekus cares a lot about its beer — and its image. That’s great! We don’t think all beer needs to be served in stemware, but no one wants a thimble of lager or a mug full of 13-percent-ABV pastry stout. A great beer bar will serve beer in style-appropriate glassware. Sour ales in snifters, hefeweizens in their eponymous vessels, or basically anything in a tulip glass is fair game. Pilsners and IPAs in pint glasses are O.K., but you better drink quickly before the beer warms in your hand. (And good luck getting any aroma!)

The beer is cold, not freezing.

The only thing that should cool down a glass that’s about to have beer in it is a splash of cool water. (Ideally, this occurs via a very nifty glass rinser, also known as a star sink.) If your bartender serves your IPA in a glass that came out of a freezer, you are not in a great craft beer bar. You’re in a sports bar that is, sadly, misinformed.

As a general rule, you want your glass at room temperature so you can appreciate the beer’s flavors. But, Goldilocks, if a bartender serves you beer that’s too warm, don’t be afraid to mention the problem. Either they tapped a keg that was sitting in the heat too long (if that’s the case, the beer will also be super foamy), or there’s something up with the cooler.

The menu is never accurate.

This may seem counterintuitive, and it can be irritating at first, but a messy menu is often a good sign. It means the bar has a rotating draft menu and is selling beer quickly. As soon as one beer kicks, a new one goes up, and the servers don’t get the chance to print a new menu or climb up up the counter to update the chalkboard fast enough. A great beer bar menu might be a beer-stained piece of paper with items scribbled out. Or, it’s a beautifully color-coded chalkboard menu, because the bar was slow earlier that day. (To be fair, it was Tuesday.)

Servers don’t judge you for ordering a lager.

Although it’s unlikely Bud Light will be on tap at a craft-centric beer bar, if that’s your thing, don’t be afraid to say it! (Nicely.) Any quality establishment invests in training its staff and offering excellent service. In this case, the server will hear your Bud Light request and point you toward a similar beer they think you might like. A Night Shift Nite Lite, perhaps, or a Firestone Lager. And, after their shift, you might catch them drinking a High Life at the dive across the street.

The tap list is locally focused.

Granted, this is a relatively new sign of a great craft beer bar. (Ten years ago, most cities simply didn’t have a lot of local breweries. It was a dark time.) At a contemporary craft beer bar, the menu will almost always be stacked with local options. A few regional or imported favorites are much appreciated, too.

Beers appeal to many palates.

Craft beers can be intimidating, and they would be even scarier if their menus had nothing but kettle sours and double IPAs. Unless there’s a special event showcasing a specific type of beer, a great bar curates its menu to include a variety of styles, flavor profiles, and alcohol levels. A super-acidic fruited sour will be complemented by a farmhouse ale, stout, lager, and, probably, several IPAs.

It gets by with a little help from its friends.

Beer bars almost always have some sort of sign, literally or otherwise, that they are involved in their community. Perhaps a local photographer’s artwork is on the walls (watch what you say — she’s a regular here). There might be an event next week raising money for a patron who’s paying off hospital bills. Or, if you’re really lucky, there’s an annual pet costume contest. Whatever the case, warm and fuzzies abound.

There are ‘regulars.’

This one is certainly not unique to craft beer bars, but familiar faces signal you’re in a place people like coming back to. If the bartender is friendly with people across the bar, they’re either buddies, folks in the industry (also a good sign), or they just really love it here.

It wears beer on its sleeve.

Several beer bars we love sell their own branded merchandise, from T-shirts to stickers to tote bags (the author is currently using such a tote). This is not something you need to look for in a great beer bar. What will more accurately signal you’re in a place full of beer lovers is that at least one person is wearing a brewery tee, cap, or hoodie. Again, be careful what you say — it might be the brewer wearing it.

It’s friendly and open to all.

We can’t promise there won’t be a few geeks glued to their Untappd accounts, but the beer snob stereotype is mostly myth — and talented service professionals do their best to keep it that way. Patrons at great beer bars are there to hang out with friends, have a few laughs, and drink tasty brews. Their hosts are inclusive of all beer drinkers and are queer-friendly, women-friendly, dog-friendly (maybe), and kid-friendly (groan). At the end of the day, we’re all just looking for a good place to get a beer.


11 Telltale Signs You’re in a Great Craft Beer Bar

Craft beer bars are everywhere these days. There are good ones, and there are bad ones. Then, there are great ones.

The abundance of beer-focused establishments is a natural progression in the U.S., considering most of us live within 10 miles of a brewery. But not all beer bars are created equally.

Some are stuck in the past, carrying outdated brands and ignoring the local beer renaissance in their cities. Some jump on the craft beer trend without really knowing the product or how to serve it. And some, though they may have good intentions, boast bottle or draft selections hundreds of brands long, which is an impressive feat until you order an IPA that’s not fresh.

Every Beer Lover Needs This Hop Aroma Poster

We’ve visited hundreds of beer bars around the country and world. Finding the ones worth going back to comes down to a handful of qualities that are easy to spot once you know what to look for. Here are 11 telltale signs you’re in a great craft beer bar.

It’s clean as a whistle. At least, parts of it are.

Not every great beer bar is sparkling, but even the grungy ones care about keeping a few key things clean, such as glassware, draft lines, and bathroom(s). Learn more about the importance of clean draft lines here.

It’s stocked with proper glassware.

A bar that serves its brews exclusively in Tekus cares a lot about its beer — and its image. That’s great! We don’t think all beer needs to be served in stemware, but no one wants a thimble of lager or a mug full of 13-percent-ABV pastry stout. A great beer bar will serve beer in style-appropriate glassware. Sour ales in snifters, hefeweizens in their eponymous vessels, or basically anything in a tulip glass is fair game. Pilsners and IPAs in pint glasses are O.K., but you better drink quickly before the beer warms in your hand. (And good luck getting any aroma!)

The beer is cold, not freezing.

The only thing that should cool down a glass that’s about to have beer in it is a splash of cool water. (Ideally, this occurs via a very nifty glass rinser, also known as a star sink.) If your bartender serves your IPA in a glass that came out of a freezer, you are not in a great craft beer bar. You’re in a sports bar that is, sadly, misinformed.

As a general rule, you want your glass at room temperature so you can appreciate the beer’s flavors. But, Goldilocks, if a bartender serves you beer that’s too warm, don’t be afraid to mention the problem. Either they tapped a keg that was sitting in the heat too long (if that’s the case, the beer will also be super foamy), or there’s something up with the cooler.

The menu is never accurate.

This may seem counterintuitive, and it can be irritating at first, but a messy menu is often a good sign. It means the bar has a rotating draft menu and is selling beer quickly. As soon as one beer kicks, a new one goes up, and the servers don’t get the chance to print a new menu or climb up up the counter to update the chalkboard fast enough. A great beer bar menu might be a beer-stained piece of paper with items scribbled out. Or, it’s a beautifully color-coded chalkboard menu, because the bar was slow earlier that day. (To be fair, it was Tuesday.)

Servers don’t judge you for ordering a lager.

Although it’s unlikely Bud Light will be on tap at a craft-centric beer bar, if that’s your thing, don’t be afraid to say it! (Nicely.) Any quality establishment invests in training its staff and offering excellent service. In this case, the server will hear your Bud Light request and point you toward a similar beer they think you might like. A Night Shift Nite Lite, perhaps, or a Firestone Lager. And, after their shift, you might catch them drinking a High Life at the dive across the street.

The tap list is locally focused.

Granted, this is a relatively new sign of a great craft beer bar. (Ten years ago, most cities simply didn’t have a lot of local breweries. It was a dark time.) At a contemporary craft beer bar, the menu will almost always be stacked with local options. A few regional or imported favorites are much appreciated, too.

Beers appeal to many palates.

Craft beers can be intimidating, and they would be even scarier if their menus had nothing but kettle sours and double IPAs. Unless there’s a special event showcasing a specific type of beer, a great bar curates its menu to include a variety of styles, flavor profiles, and alcohol levels. A super-acidic fruited sour will be complemented by a farmhouse ale, stout, lager, and, probably, several IPAs.

It gets by with a little help from its friends.

Beer bars almost always have some sort of sign, literally or otherwise, that they are involved in their community. Perhaps a local photographer’s artwork is on the walls (watch what you say — she’s a regular here). There might be an event next week raising money for a patron who’s paying off hospital bills. Or, if you’re really lucky, there’s an annual pet costume contest. Whatever the case, warm and fuzzies abound.

There are ‘regulars.’

This one is certainly not unique to craft beer bars, but familiar faces signal you’re in a place people like coming back to. If the bartender is friendly with people across the bar, they’re either buddies, folks in the industry (also a good sign), or they just really love it here.

It wears beer on its sleeve.

Several beer bars we love sell their own branded merchandise, from T-shirts to stickers to tote bags (the author is currently using such a tote). This is not something you need to look for in a great beer bar. What will more accurately signal you’re in a place full of beer lovers is that at least one person is wearing a brewery tee, cap, or hoodie. Again, be careful what you say — it might be the brewer wearing it.

It’s friendly and open to all.

We can’t promise there won’t be a few geeks glued to their Untappd accounts, but the beer snob stereotype is mostly myth — and talented service professionals do their best to keep it that way. Patrons at great beer bars are there to hang out with friends, have a few laughs, and drink tasty brews. Their hosts are inclusive of all beer drinkers and are queer-friendly, women-friendly, dog-friendly (maybe), and kid-friendly (groan). At the end of the day, we’re all just looking for a good place to get a beer.


11 Telltale Signs You’re in a Great Craft Beer Bar

Craft beer bars are everywhere these days. There are good ones, and there are bad ones. Then, there are great ones.

The abundance of beer-focused establishments is a natural progression in the U.S., considering most of us live within 10 miles of a brewery. But not all beer bars are created equally.

Some are stuck in the past, carrying outdated brands and ignoring the local beer renaissance in their cities. Some jump on the craft beer trend without really knowing the product or how to serve it. And some, though they may have good intentions, boast bottle or draft selections hundreds of brands long, which is an impressive feat until you order an IPA that’s not fresh.

Every Beer Lover Needs This Hop Aroma Poster

We’ve visited hundreds of beer bars around the country and world. Finding the ones worth going back to comes down to a handful of qualities that are easy to spot once you know what to look for. Here are 11 telltale signs you’re in a great craft beer bar.

It’s clean as a whistle. At least, parts of it are.

Not every great beer bar is sparkling, but even the grungy ones care about keeping a few key things clean, such as glassware, draft lines, and bathroom(s). Learn more about the importance of clean draft lines here.

It’s stocked with proper glassware.

A bar that serves its brews exclusively in Tekus cares a lot about its beer — and its image. That’s great! We don’t think all beer needs to be served in stemware, but no one wants a thimble of lager or a mug full of 13-percent-ABV pastry stout. A great beer bar will serve beer in style-appropriate glassware. Sour ales in snifters, hefeweizens in their eponymous vessels, or basically anything in a tulip glass is fair game. Pilsners and IPAs in pint glasses are O.K., but you better drink quickly before the beer warms in your hand. (And good luck getting any aroma!)

The beer is cold, not freezing.

The only thing that should cool down a glass that’s about to have beer in it is a splash of cool water. (Ideally, this occurs via a very nifty glass rinser, also known as a star sink.) If your bartender serves your IPA in a glass that came out of a freezer, you are not in a great craft beer bar. You’re in a sports bar that is, sadly, misinformed.

As a general rule, you want your glass at room temperature so you can appreciate the beer’s flavors. But, Goldilocks, if a bartender serves you beer that’s too warm, don’t be afraid to mention the problem. Either they tapped a keg that was sitting in the heat too long (if that’s the case, the beer will also be super foamy), or there’s something up with the cooler.

The menu is never accurate.

This may seem counterintuitive, and it can be irritating at first, but a messy menu is often a good sign. It means the bar has a rotating draft menu and is selling beer quickly. As soon as one beer kicks, a new one goes up, and the servers don’t get the chance to print a new menu or climb up up the counter to update the chalkboard fast enough. A great beer bar menu might be a beer-stained piece of paper with items scribbled out. Or, it’s a beautifully color-coded chalkboard menu, because the bar was slow earlier that day. (To be fair, it was Tuesday.)

Servers don’t judge you for ordering a lager.

Although it’s unlikely Bud Light will be on tap at a craft-centric beer bar, if that’s your thing, don’t be afraid to say it! (Nicely.) Any quality establishment invests in training its staff and offering excellent service. In this case, the server will hear your Bud Light request and point you toward a similar beer they think you might like. A Night Shift Nite Lite, perhaps, or a Firestone Lager. And, after their shift, you might catch them drinking a High Life at the dive across the street.

The tap list is locally focused.

Granted, this is a relatively new sign of a great craft beer bar. (Ten years ago, most cities simply didn’t have a lot of local breweries. It was a dark time.) At a contemporary craft beer bar, the menu will almost always be stacked with local options. A few regional or imported favorites are much appreciated, too.

Beers appeal to many palates.

Craft beers can be intimidating, and they would be even scarier if their menus had nothing but kettle sours and double IPAs. Unless there’s a special event showcasing a specific type of beer, a great bar curates its menu to include a variety of styles, flavor profiles, and alcohol levels. A super-acidic fruited sour will be complemented by a farmhouse ale, stout, lager, and, probably, several IPAs.

It gets by with a little help from its friends.

Beer bars almost always have some sort of sign, literally or otherwise, that they are involved in their community. Perhaps a local photographer’s artwork is on the walls (watch what you say — she’s a regular here). There might be an event next week raising money for a patron who’s paying off hospital bills. Or, if you’re really lucky, there’s an annual pet costume contest. Whatever the case, warm and fuzzies abound.

There are ‘regulars.’

This one is certainly not unique to craft beer bars, but familiar faces signal you’re in a place people like coming back to. If the bartender is friendly with people across the bar, they’re either buddies, folks in the industry (also a good sign), or they just really love it here.

It wears beer on its sleeve.

Several beer bars we love sell their own branded merchandise, from T-shirts to stickers to tote bags (the author is currently using such a tote). This is not something you need to look for in a great beer bar. What will more accurately signal you’re in a place full of beer lovers is that at least one person is wearing a brewery tee, cap, or hoodie. Again, be careful what you say — it might be the brewer wearing it.

It’s friendly and open to all.

We can’t promise there won’t be a few geeks glued to their Untappd accounts, but the beer snob stereotype is mostly myth — and talented service professionals do their best to keep it that way. Patrons at great beer bars are there to hang out with friends, have a few laughs, and drink tasty brews. Their hosts are inclusive of all beer drinkers and are queer-friendly, women-friendly, dog-friendly (maybe), and kid-friendly (groan). At the end of the day, we’re all just looking for a good place to get a beer.


11 Telltale Signs You’re in a Great Craft Beer Bar

Craft beer bars are everywhere these days. There are good ones, and there are bad ones. Then, there are great ones.

The abundance of beer-focused establishments is a natural progression in the U.S., considering most of us live within 10 miles of a brewery. But not all beer bars are created equally.

Some are stuck in the past, carrying outdated brands and ignoring the local beer renaissance in their cities. Some jump on the craft beer trend without really knowing the product or how to serve it. And some, though they may have good intentions, boast bottle or draft selections hundreds of brands long, which is an impressive feat until you order an IPA that’s not fresh.

Every Beer Lover Needs This Hop Aroma Poster

We’ve visited hundreds of beer bars around the country and world. Finding the ones worth going back to comes down to a handful of qualities that are easy to spot once you know what to look for. Here are 11 telltale signs you’re in a great craft beer bar.

It’s clean as a whistle. At least, parts of it are.

Not every great beer bar is sparkling, but even the grungy ones care about keeping a few key things clean, such as glassware, draft lines, and bathroom(s). Learn more about the importance of clean draft lines here.

It’s stocked with proper glassware.

A bar that serves its brews exclusively in Tekus cares a lot about its beer — and its image. That’s great! We don’t think all beer needs to be served in stemware, but no one wants a thimble of lager or a mug full of 13-percent-ABV pastry stout. A great beer bar will serve beer in style-appropriate glassware. Sour ales in snifters, hefeweizens in their eponymous vessels, or basically anything in a tulip glass is fair game. Pilsners and IPAs in pint glasses are O.K., but you better drink quickly before the beer warms in your hand. (And good luck getting any aroma!)

The beer is cold, not freezing.

The only thing that should cool down a glass that’s about to have beer in it is a splash of cool water. (Ideally, this occurs via a very nifty glass rinser, also known as a star sink.) If your bartender serves your IPA in a glass that came out of a freezer, you are not in a great craft beer bar. You’re in a sports bar that is, sadly, misinformed.

As a general rule, you want your glass at room temperature so you can appreciate the beer’s flavors. But, Goldilocks, if a bartender serves you beer that’s too warm, don’t be afraid to mention the problem. Either they tapped a keg that was sitting in the heat too long (if that’s the case, the beer will also be super foamy), or there’s something up with the cooler.

The menu is never accurate.

This may seem counterintuitive, and it can be irritating at first, but a messy menu is often a good sign. It means the bar has a rotating draft menu and is selling beer quickly. As soon as one beer kicks, a new one goes up, and the servers don’t get the chance to print a new menu or climb up up the counter to update the chalkboard fast enough. A great beer bar menu might be a beer-stained piece of paper with items scribbled out. Or, it’s a beautifully color-coded chalkboard menu, because the bar was slow earlier that day. (To be fair, it was Tuesday.)

Servers don’t judge you for ordering a lager.

Although it’s unlikely Bud Light will be on tap at a craft-centric beer bar, if that’s your thing, don’t be afraid to say it! (Nicely.) Any quality establishment invests in training its staff and offering excellent service. In this case, the server will hear your Bud Light request and point you toward a similar beer they think you might like. A Night Shift Nite Lite, perhaps, or a Firestone Lager. And, after their shift, you might catch them drinking a High Life at the dive across the street.

The tap list is locally focused.

Granted, this is a relatively new sign of a great craft beer bar. (Ten years ago, most cities simply didn’t have a lot of local breweries. It was a dark time.) At a contemporary craft beer bar, the menu will almost always be stacked with local options. A few regional or imported favorites are much appreciated, too.

Beers appeal to many palates.

Craft beers can be intimidating, and they would be even scarier if their menus had nothing but kettle sours and double IPAs. Unless there’s a special event showcasing a specific type of beer, a great bar curates its menu to include a variety of styles, flavor profiles, and alcohol levels. A super-acidic fruited sour will be complemented by a farmhouse ale, stout, lager, and, probably, several IPAs.

It gets by with a little help from its friends.

Beer bars almost always have some sort of sign, literally or otherwise, that they are involved in their community. Perhaps a local photographer’s artwork is on the walls (watch what you say — she’s a regular here). There might be an event next week raising money for a patron who’s paying off hospital bills. Or, if you’re really lucky, there’s an annual pet costume contest. Whatever the case, warm and fuzzies abound.

There are ‘regulars.’

This one is certainly not unique to craft beer bars, but familiar faces signal you’re in a place people like coming back to. If the bartender is friendly with people across the bar, they’re either buddies, folks in the industry (also a good sign), or they just really love it here.

It wears beer on its sleeve.

Several beer bars we love sell their own branded merchandise, from T-shirts to stickers to tote bags (the author is currently using such a tote). This is not something you need to look for in a great beer bar. What will more accurately signal you’re in a place full of beer lovers is that at least one person is wearing a brewery tee, cap, or hoodie. Again, be careful what you say — it might be the brewer wearing it.

It’s friendly and open to all.

We can’t promise there won’t be a few geeks glued to their Untappd accounts, but the beer snob stereotype is mostly myth — and talented service professionals do their best to keep it that way. Patrons at great beer bars are there to hang out with friends, have a few laughs, and drink tasty brews. Their hosts are inclusive of all beer drinkers and are queer-friendly, women-friendly, dog-friendly (maybe), and kid-friendly (groan). At the end of the day, we’re all just looking for a good place to get a beer.


Watch the video: Tapsters Owner Shares Experience With Serving Cocktails on Tap (December 2021).