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100 Best Beer Bars: How About These Five Noted Absences

January 18, 2011 7 comments

No Brouwers? Something went wrong there.

Washington Beer Blog reminded me that Draft Magazine put out their annual 100 Best Beer Bars this week. Thanks for the reminder, Kendall. Now let me go spend two unproductive hours ogling it!

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:

 

  1. 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.
  2.  

  3. 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.
  4.  

  5. 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.
  6.  

  7. 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.
  8.  

  9. 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!?

 

 

Off To San Diego Beer Week, But What The Hell Is The Full Rack?

November 12, 2010 1 comment

 

oh how you tempt me, Full Rack.

Airplane headed to San Diego – I love you. Get

me there quick and safe, for I have drinking to do.

The Beer Blotter squad is off to San Diego to enjoy a little San Diego Beer Week before it fizzles out (its ends on November 14th). We should get a few spots in – nothing crazy (completely psychotic).

The list of intended venues: Hamiltons Tavern, O’Brien’s Pub, the Linkery, Live Wire, Toronado, Ritual Tavern, Blind Lady Alehouse, Pizza Port Carlsbad, Pizza Port Bottle Shop, Alpine Beer Company, Stone Bistro & Brewery, Lost Abbey/Port Brewing, Alesmith Brewing, Ballast Point Brewing…….I mean, we’re not crazy or anything – just motivated.

So, expect to hear a little about San Diego and its amazing beer scene in the coming weeks. I cannot wait to get my hands on some Alpine Beer Co. IPA.

 

The Full Rack

 

But, what of last night? What is the full rack you ask (or you don’t but I’m telling you anyways)?

The full rack is a name we gave to the best beer experience ever at Uber Tavern. Uber recently decided to add 4 oz servings to their beer menu – an unbelievably amazing and genius concept.

Well, Uber has 17 taps. 17 taps + 4 oz servings = The Full Rack. Get it.

We had the ultimate in beer tasting last night. Our Full Rack included Southern Tier Oat, Echte Kreikenbier, Cascade Autumn Gose, Cascade RyePA, Deschutes Hop Trip and another 12 delicious beers.

There is no better way to enjoy a plethora of beer in one sitting. Visit Uber Tavern and thanks to Charlie for having us last night.

 

52 Weeks: O’Briens Pub, San Diego, California.

October 5, 2010 1 comment

Alpine Duet and O'Brien's House Sausage. Deadly Combo.

Week 35 of 52:

O’Brien’s Pub

4646 Convoy Street
San Diego, CA 92111-2315

(858) 715-1745

Rank: 4.5/5

Type of Establishment:

Classic English pub, basking in soccer action. Focus of this place: really good local beer.

Visit:

A Monday morning around 11:00 AM, on a hot summer day. This was our first stop on an epic 1-day cruise through San Diego’s beer scene. Luckily, I was stone sober and able to faithfully review the place.

 

BEERS ON TAP (at time of visit):

 

This is one of the greatest tap lists that I have ever seen. However, this is because they were sporting an unprecedented 8 beers from Alpine Beer Company – my favorite US brewer. The shock factor alone was hard to manage.

The tap list is online here. Its updated frequently and actually looks more attractive right now then when I was there (shocking!). Here is what was pouring during my visit:

Alpine Ale

Alpine Nelson Rye IPA

Weihenstephaner Hefeweizen

The board.

Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA

Alpine Duet IPA

Green Flash West Coast IPA

Coronado Idiot IPA

Bear Republic Tribute Brown

Alpine Good Barleywine

Port Brewing Mongo IPA

Alpine Red Card

Alpine Pure Hoppiness

Lagunitas Olde Gnarleywine

Alpine Ned Flanders Red Sour Ale

…..and a few others.

 

BOTTLED/CANNED BEER:

 

You know what – I did not do my homework. After being forced into a coma over the Alpine tap selection, I failed to get a glimpse of the bottle selection.

However, O’Brien’s knows how to run a beer bar. They have a full list of their bottles on their website, which you can view by visiting this link. Check out the offerings from Alesmith, Ballast Point (Sculpin!), Jolly Pumpkin, De Molen, and other amazing European brewers.

If you cannot find something on tap – you are unconscious. But, do not fret. The bottle list is out of this world.

 

FOOD OPTIONS:

 

Once again, O’Brien’s does not disappoint. From fried stuff to leafy stuff – O’Brien’s has something for you. Check out their amazing selection of soups, or their fish tacos.

We grabbed a special platter of amazing house sausage. If memory serves me, it was a collection of beer broiled bratwurst, amongst a bounty of cheeses. Really good way to start off your day of beer drinking.

 

BAR OPINION:

 

O’Brien’s Pub is a pub – bar none. There are no two ways about it. They do two things: watch soccer and drink great beer.

O’Brien’s sports a dark and deep bar area. Nothing fancy, nothing dreary. The walls are covered in beer shwag and soccer garb. Soccer is played on the bar’s several screens, including a large projection screen for the big game. We visited during the World Cup; you could feel the fanfare thick in the air.

One of the most impressive elements of the O’Brien’s experience is their relationship with San Diego heavyweight, Alpine Beer Co. O’Briens plays host to several of Alpine’s beer releases and almost always pours 2 or 3 of their beers at any given time. In fact, Alpine brewed a collaboration ale for the bar to sell, in-house.


Alpine's Ned stole the show.

During our visit, the bar was on day 2 of a hefty Alpine taplist. We got to sample Alpine’s barleywine, flemish red and massive IPAs. Not one of these beers disappointed. Nothing stopped our hearts like Alpine’s Ned. A Flemish Red with a mouth puckering sourness, this beer had a dark, rich maltiness that perfectly matched its tart flavor. Champion of our day.

In addition to the Alpine taps, we saw great choices from other locals, Port Brewing, Green Flash Brewing and Coronado

Brewing. Each of these breweries produce a line of incredible West Coast IPAs. You can be sure to see a heavy percentage of IPAs on their tap list, at all times. Check out the current list by following this link.

Now that I have informed you that its nearly impossible to have just one beer, you probably want to know if they have something to soak up all that booze. Luckily for you, O’Briens has some damn good food.

If I can recommend something: get the sausage. I really don’t care which type, just buy some sausage. Its all delicious. O’Briens serves up hot links in the brewers plate, beer braised brats and some spicy italian hot sausage. The sandwich list is rather extensive and with nothing over $7.00 – how can you lose!? Remember, this is Southern California and nothing comes cheap.


The handles.

O’Briens loves happy hour. Each night, they offer something different. Check out the list, but we suggest you make a Monday trip and take advantage of $10.00 craft pitchers! They also pour $3.50 (or cheaper) pints three days a week. I’m thinking Satuday from 12-4, might be your ticket to excellent visit.

This pub has the most impressive of events for San Diego Beer Week – believe us. Check out their offerings by following this link. Try not to miss Day of the Belgians on November 6, Alpine Brewers Night on November 8, or Attack of the Barrels on November 12.

We will get another shot at O’Briens during San Diego Beer Week. With little to dislike about this pub, I’m sure we will have a blast.

 

San Diego Beer Week Releases First Events

October 1, 2010 1 comment

Alpine will be at O'Briens for a special beer night on 11/8!

Earlier this month, we discussed the Second Annual San Diego Beer Week in an article on this site. SDBW will be going down from November 5, 2010 to November 14, 2010.

After San Diego brewers cleaned up at the Great American Beer Festival, I think that there will be a bit more interest in this event. The 10 day festival of SoCal grog will feature some 500 events, including two official San Diego Brewers Guild events on the opening and closing days.

SDBW is finally releasing events, by posting snippets on its website. You can check out the events by following this link. They have finally released enough information to help you make a decision about when to head to the festival.

Don’t miss out on the Brewers Guild events. The November 6th event will take place in Liberty Station from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m, showcasing 10 brewers and a special VIP event for you crazed beer nuts. The Lodge at Torrey Pines (this place is incredible) will play host to the closing event on Sunday, November 14. The Lodge will offer 12 brewers and 24 chefs the opportunity to show their stuff.

One recommendation: Do not miss O’Briens Pub. O’Brien’s will be holding some of the best events of the festival, including a special Alpine Beer Co night on November 8th and Barrel Aged Night on November 12th.

Stay in tune with the fest by following them on twitter (@sdbeerweek).

Beer Events: Week of August 9, 2010

August 10, 2010 2 comments

Don't Miss Lazy Boy Brewing at Alligator Soul on Thursday

We had a nice little Monday evening, enjoying some of great beer in the process.

One of our good friends received a nice care package complete with about 20 bottles of New Glarus Brewing‘s year-round ales. The Wisconsin brewer makes a couple great beers, and a couple rough ones. We really enjoyed the Moon Man Pale, Cracked Wheat Imperial Weizen (a seasonal) and the Fat Squirrel Nut Brown Ale.

After sucking down a few bottles, we decided to embark on a night of Pink Floyd over at Brouwers Cafe. Apparently, the Seattle beer mecca will be playing concert videos every Monday evening at 10:00 PM. I really enjoyed the show, coupling it with an Ommegang Zuur (a Flemish Brown, very similar to an Oud Bruin) and Mikkeller Frelser (a Triple Bock). Both are excellent beers that you need to try, before they are gone.

By the way, Jessica is over at the Beer Engine in Lakewood, Ohio today. She will be taking notes and letting you all know about it later this week. We are a bit jealous, Beer Engine has Dieu De Ciel Aphrodite, Heavy Seas Loose Cannon, and Founders Cerise on tap!

We are also planning a trip to San Diego for the next beer week. Very excited to attend.

So here are the events for this glorious week…….

 

Monday, August 9, 2010

 

Concert Vids: Seattle, Washington

10:00PM-?? @ Brouwers Cafe

Since we are a day late, I wanted to call attention to Brouwers’ new Monday night feature – music video showings! Brouwers will dim the lights, boost the volume and showcase a different concert/music video each Monday night, starting at 10 PM. Last night’s showing of Pulse by Pink Floyd was epic.

 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

 

Allagash Brewers Night: Brooklyn, New York

6:00PM-10:00PM @ Bar Great Harry

No cost to join Rob Todd’s festival of ale. Check out this list:

1. Blonde
2. Fluxus
3. Hugh Malone
4. Victor
5. Curieux
6. Black
7. Confluence
8. Odyssey
9. Victoria

Do not miss this if you are in Brooklyn area. The Bar Great Harry is an amazing bar and anyone in the area should certainly become acquainted. What better way to do that – than with a pint of Allagash Curieux.

 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

 

Blending Night to Benefit the Berkeley Humane Society: Oakland, California

6:00PM-10:00PM @ Beer Revolution

There are actually a few good brewers nights around the country on this Wednesday. But, the combination of charity and a really cool pub in Oakland – make this one the winner.

Beer Revolution is a very cool little spot in Oakland, where you can find about 12 beers on tap and a plethora of bottles. Beer Revolution does an excellent job of attaining little know, and hard to find beers.

Their blending night brings some blending pros over to show you how to make some fine concoctions from you already have in your cellar. They will be working with the following:

Green Flash Trippel
Green Flash West Coast IPA
Bockor Cuvee des Jacobins Rouge
Lost Abbey Serpent’s Stout
Gouden Carolus Hopsinjoor
North Coast Old Stock

Stop by and check this out. You know why – its FREE!

 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

 

Lazy Boy Brewing’s Brewers Night: Everett, Washington

6:00PM-9:00PM @ Alligator Soul

Its a really slow beer night across our great nation. But, if you live in Seattle, like us, there is something great going on close to home.

Lazy Boy Brewing is holding a brewer’s night at Everett’s blossoming Alligator Soul. The Gator has a growing tap list and well-received food. Read this write up, done by Seattle Beer News’ Geoff Kaiser.

This Thursday, LBB‘s Shawn Loring and Timperial Stout will truck on over to the Gator to serve up some of their incredible beers. These days, LBB is showcasing a Nacho Pilsner (made with chillies), a NW Pale (packed with more hops than you typical IPA) and a NW Hefeweizen (for you men who like hops with their light beer). Check them all out – and remember to look for their Imperial IPA at next month’s Fremont Ocktoberfest.

 

Friday, August 13, 2010

 

Alpine Triple Threat: San Diego, California

5:00PM-1:00AM @ O’Brien’s Pub

I cannot express to you all – how damn good this beer tastes. Alpine Beer Company, of Alpine, CA (outside San Diego), is quickly becoming my favorite brewery. I would have no trouble considering them a part of my Top 5 US brewers today, and they are likely gain ground as I get my fill of more from them at San Diego Beer Week in November.

Alpine makes, what I believe to be, the top IPAs in the country. They are abundantly scented, daringly flavorful and perfectly intoxicating. But, I have also had their Barleywine, Flemish Red Sour Ale, and their Irish Red. They all bring tears to my eyes, in a good way.

This is your chance to get a look at 3 of the best of their beers. From the bar’s release:

O’Brien’s Pub will be releasing brand new batches of Alpine Bad Boy, Exponential Hoppiness and O’Brien’s IPA on Friday the 13th. We’ll also have Nelson Rye-IPA, Duet IPA and Tuatara on tap. A great night of rare hoppy beers from Alpine.

Don’t miss this.

 

Saturday, August 14, 2010

 

Great Taste of the Midwest: Madison, Wisconsin

1PM-6PM @ Olin-Turville Park

This might be the most sought-after ticket in all of the Midwest. The Great Taste has become a cult event, showcasing over 100 breweries from the wonderful Midwest, serving over 500 beers.

Tickets were priced at $40.00, but a tweet from Six Point Craft Ales, yesterday, indicated that tickets are going for almost $200.00 on eBay.

You can find the list of specialty beers that were available last year by following this link. Don’t slobber on your keyboard.

Expect to see Three Floyds, Founders, Bells, Great Lakes, New Glarus, Surly and other phenomenal brewers at this party – if you can get in.

 

Sunday, August 15, 2010

 

Strong Beer Festival: Las Vegas, Nevada

5:00PM-??? @ Aces & Ales (also Friday 8/13 and Saturday 8/14)

You never see anything good going down in the City of Sin. So I was very excited to see that a rather impressive beer festival will happen this weekend – and its for charity. In association with Ronnie James Dio’s ’Stand Up & Shout’ cancer fund, the festival will include silent auctions to benefit cancer research.

You can find out more about the event by visiting this link, Aces’ Facebook page.

Aces & Ales will spread the following list over the course of 3 days this weekend:

Dogfish Head:
Burton Baton
Red & White
Olde School Barleywine
Raison D’Etre
Midas Touch
Sah’tea
Theobroma

Stone Brewing:
2007 Old Guardian Barleywine
2010 Old Guardian Barleywine
999 Vertical Ale
13th Anniversary Ale

Noble Aleworks:
IPA
Alpha Red
Dark Sybian IPA

Moylans:
Kilt Lifter Port Barrel
Ryan Sullivan’s Imperial Stout
Old Blarney Barley Wine
Hopsickle Imperial Pale Ale
Moylander Double IPA
Ryan Sullivan’s Imperial Stout
Old Blarney Barley Wine Bourbon Barrel

The Bruery:
Coton
Mischief
Saison Rue
Rugbrod
Autumn Maple

North Coast Brewing Co.:
Old Rasputin
Le Merle
Brother Thelonious

Firestone Walker Brewing Co.:
Union JAck
Parabola
13th Anniversary

Newport Beach Brewing Co:
A Fortnights Journey/14th Ann Barleywine

Tustin Brewery:
Old Town IPA
14th Anniversary Imperial Red

Ballast Point Brewing Co.:
Sculpin IPA

Deschutes Brewery:
Mirror Mirror 2009
 The Abyss 2009 Jubel 2010

Rogue Brewery:
XS Imperial India Pale Ale
Imperial Chocolate Stout
Morimoto Imperial Pilsner
XS Imperial YSB

 

If you attend an event, want us to post about your event, or anything beer event related, please leave a comment or email us at beerblotter@gmail.com. Cheers!

 

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