Draft Magazine is a nationally published magazine focused beer culture. They have been around since 2006, sometimes featuring celebrities on their covers. All in all, its not the nerds guide to beer. Its more of a sassy celebration of all things barley pop.
Don’t let my description drive you away. Draft Magazine is good. In fact, all 3 of the Beer Blotter writers are subscribers. We enjoy the fact that Draft presents a global expose on happenings in the beer world. Its really a good way to locate beer venues from around the world.
Just this week, Draft released its annual Top 100 beer bars list. This list is sorted geographically into 4 regions. I was afraid that they were attempting to force options for each of these regions, but it appears that the selections are not equally divided (for example, the Northeast has many more than the South). So, it appears that the choices are without prejudice.
In scouring the list, I was very pleased to see places like Avenue Pub (New Orleans), Apex (Portland), Blind Lady Alehouse (San Diego) and our very own Monk’s hole – The Stumbling Monk (Seattle).
But, one cannot peruse the list without finding their own list of absentees. While less deserving pubs made it (i.e. Cooter Browns (New Orleans), Green Dragon (Portland), McNulty’s Bier Markt (Cleveland)), some of the nation’s most celebrated beer venues are missing.
While that absentee list will differ for each of us, here are my Top 5 Absentees:
- Brouwers Cafe (Seattle) – They must have pissed off a Draft Magazine writer. Many of us know that Brouwers can sometimes rub the wrong way (and its been stated by commenters here on the site), but there is no better selection of ale in the NW. Brouwers routinely procures 60 taps of rare beer, one of the best bottle lists in the country and an unprecedented number of unmatched in-house beer festivals (See Sour Fest, Hopfest, Big Wood, and Hard Liver). Again, they must have pissed someone off.
- Bangers & Lace (Chicago) – This might simply be too early for Draft to call this place a winner. But, Bangers & Lace has quickly ascended to the top of the Chicago beer world. Presenting an unmatched selection of rare beer, along with phenomenal food, B&L deserves a spot. Guest writer For Whom the Bell Toales agrees that this is the #1 beer venue in Chi-town.
- Small Bar (San Diego) – Ok Ok, they got it mostly right. Hamilton’s Tavern, Blind Lady Alehouse, and O’Brien’s Pub should all be on the list. But, Small Bar gives that Top 3 a run for their money. Mixing a spectacular beer selection with epic food and spunky surroundings, I think it deserved a spot above many of the LA selections.
- Brew Kettle (Strongsville, OH) - Draft picked one of the many Cleveland suburb favorites – Buckeye Beer Engine. But, I think they got the wrong one. The Brew Kettle blends an incredible draft lineup (thank god for the connection with Founders), house made ales, and some spectactular bar grub. Get drunk enough? Go brew a batch in the back. Beyond that – its just a cool dark place to grab a beer.
- New York’s Forgotten Trio – Ginger Man, Mug’s Alehouse and d.b.a. (NY, NY) – They picked a lot of NY spots. I can understand that its pretty tough to run into your editor’s office and say we picked the Top 100 – 20 of them are in NY. Its a tough job to pick between the excellent spots in NYC. In my mind, they got the top 3 on the list – Rattle N Hum, Blind Tiger and Spuyten Duyvil. Those three are iconic, and the three places that I spend the most time while in NY. But, the above three all deserve a shot at the list. The Ginger Man is just a few blocks from Rattle N Hum – many would say its the cooler bar. Mug’s is tucked away in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. But unlike the uber-hipster crowd at Spuyten Duyvil, you will find comfort at this grog spot. d.b.a. is the lone East Village fave. d.b.a. has been pouring beer for a long time and has an excellent wide spread selection.
I will say, writing the Top 5 absentees was pretty tough. All in all they did a great job finding the appropriate bars. The Top 100 is a worthy list and you should take a glance.
What else is missing!?
So……Friday is the day where we will be introducing the Taplist – an adventure into America’s top tap lists. Beer Blotter did a survey (no we didnt), and we tallied the votes (certainly did not) and we decided in unanimity (eh…maybe) that there are 8 epic beer cities in the U.S. of A.
Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Seattle, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, and Denver won out. Thus, they will be routinely displayed here every Friday (morning from now on) so that you know where to go to get a beer in your city, your vacation spot, the place where work stuck you with that guy, the place you got stuck on a layover, the place your in-laws live and you tentatively visit, and/or the place you bought that stuff from that dude that knew that chick.
We will try to get to all 8 cities each week…but this week we only get to 6.
And now for the list……
- The Map Room – Updated 12/11/09 – Founder’s Red Rye Ale is up and seriously lacking a response in the beer community. The reviews are spicy with a great caramel balance. Worth a look. Also, appearing are Cleveland’s Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald, Montreal’s McAuslan St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout (99 on RateBeer), Sierra Nevada/Dogfish Life & Limb (10.2% with maple syrup and birch) – best for last Three Floyds Alpha Klaus (beer of the month = $4)
- The Publican – Get the pig ears. order beer. Green’s Quest is brewed at Mikkeller’s De Proef Brouwerij (8.5% tripel); the list has Port Brewing’s Panzer Imperial Pilz and Older Viscosity (taste like hot pretzels – 2nd at Big Wood); you might want to save your cash and get a Matilda from Goose Island, a beer full of funky yet citrusy belgian flavor while adding a smooth but strong hoppy note.
- The Hopleaf - Updated 12/11/09 – they win for today’s list. The list includes localites Tyranena Rocky’s Revenge (Barrel Aged Brown), Bell’s Two Hearted Ale (quintessential IPA), Two Brothers Heavy Handed IPA (wet hop!), Metropolitan Generator Dopplebock (who makes these? – 8.2% is just right), Half Acre Magnus Schwartz and Point Brewing Cascade Pale Ale. But the show stoppers here are (a) Stone/Brewdog Bashah (8.6%, get this – Black. Belgian. Double IPA – i love these guys) and (b) Goose Island Pere Jacques (9% – banana monster that will turn you upside down)
- Ginger Man – Weyerbacher Quad. enough said. This went up today. Also going up are Abita Christmas Ale (New Orleans favorite), and Smuttynose Big A IPA; but the king has to be Harpoon’s Leviathan Imperial IPA – we sampled this down in New Orleans and were floored. This is an extremely well bittered IPA with perfect smooth sugars. The beer is comparable to Ruination.
- Rattle N Hum – Updated 12/9/09 – Woo. Wow. 40 taps and 4 Dark Star (England) Casks. This list is incredible – we will just rattle them off: Allagash Burnham Road, Smuttynose Finest Kind Kind (2x IPA – no ratings – rare as hell), Captain Lawrence Freshchester Pale, Dogfish Head Burton Baton (2x IPA), Stone Sublimely Self Righteous, Southern Tier Old Man Winter, Brooklyn Back Breaker, and Sixpoint Otis – - but the champs are here Brooklyn Monster ’07 and Cigar City Hunaphu (got to love the NY and FL connection – thank NYC shitty taxes and FL no taxes) . Hunu is a RateBeer Top 50, aged in cigar box wood and severely limited in production. Get it now.
- Monk’s Cafe – East Coasters – they still have Port Brewing High Tide – go get it. Its your last amazing taste of fresh hops for the season. You want a Belgian – get the Nogne O Tiger Trippel.
- Eulogy – Austria’s favorite is Samichlaus (14%) Dopplebock, aged for 10 months and ready for the Holidays. Very rare on tap. The Belgians here are the fare; there are plenty you will like.
- Toronado – Updated 12/11/09 – Unlike the SF version, these guys maintain an ever changing tap list online. Holiday beers on parade. Today you can grab a Lost Abbey Gift of the Magi. This beer is biblical in theme and in effect. An incredible Biere De Garde that has been reviewed as having “hints of egg nog” – really? They also have Mikkeller’ Santa’s Little Helper 2009, Oggi’s- Freakin’ Awsome (SD brewer with some amazing IPAs), Port Brewing Santa’s Little Helper, and Santa Cruz Mountain’s Ginger’s Winter Warmer
- Stone Bistro - Stone Brewing’s own brewpub/bistro has probably the most consistently-impressive tap list in the city. Right now you can grab any of Stone’s brews, including Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale, as well as Avery duganA (one of the more impressive new 2x IPAs), a winter ale offering from Bootleggers of Fullerton, CA, and Mission Brewing’s Armada Imperial IPA (collaboration with San Diego Brewing @ 9.2%). We would love to try and get our hands on that Mission offering.
- Toronado - These guys do not keep an updated taplist. But, they do have a pleasant surprise for you – Speakeasy is holding an Old Godfather Release Party today at this pub. This beer is a tasty caramel barleywine (10.2%). But the versions on tap today will be Barrel-Aged and extra special.
- The Trappist – OK OK we know its in Oakland, but this bar is incredible. They are hold KerstBier Festival right now, with some amazing Belgians. De Struise Tsjeeses (10%), Mikkeller To From, and Brouwerij De Regenboog‘s Catherine the Great Stout.
- Latona – UPDATED 12/12/09 – They just put up their new tap list. Big Time Malaprop 8 is very intriguing. This abbey style ale (7.2%) has excellent reviews and an interesting spiced malt. Check this beer out.
- Naked City Taphouse – UPDATED all the time. Naked City’s use of Twitter has been an excellent tool for beer lovers. Now you can be sure to know what is running on their taps at all time. Its a must follow. Right now they are pouring Speakeasy Brewer’s Reserve Old Godfather, Snipes Diminished Returns Double IPA and Diamond Knot Industrial Ho Ho. We were especially impressed with Snipes’ 2x IPA. The beer is not too bitter, very floral and extremely smooth, while maintaining a high alcohol content (9%). Snipes has been getting a lot of attention for hoppy beers over the past year. Take a trip to Greenwood people!
- Brouwer’s Cafe – UPDATED 12/11/09 – Brouwers put some good beers on last night, notifying us via Twitter.
Let us know if we are missing something. Next week expect to see a post about all 8 cities!