Home > Chicago, US, Cleveland, US, New Orleans, US, New York, US, Portland, US, San Diego, US, Seattle, US, The Grog Spot > 100 Best Beer Bars: How About These Five Noted Absences

100 Best Beer Bars: How About These Five Noted Absences

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.

  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.

  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.

  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.

  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!?



  1. BT
    January 18, 2011 at 9:50 am

    While I don’t have issue with most of the entries on the list, there are better (in my opinion) entries for New Orleans than Cooter Brown’s. At the very least, I would consider DBA (sister bar to the NY,NY establishment) to be much better than Cooters. However, try as they might, nobody in / around this area will touch The Avenue Pub. Polly has done an absolutely brilliant job of bringing hard to find, limited edition and small batch beers to the local market. And this isn’t just limited to American craft beers. That should be the first stop for any true beer fan when they come to the city.

    • January 18, 2011 at 10:03 am

      Agreed – in all respects. I love Avenue Pub. Cooters is a college hangout. Its a place where you go drown your hangover in waffle fries and watch a football game. Not much of a beer bar.

      Avenue Pub is our favorite. I think that most beer fans would agree its tops.

      Thanks for the comment

  2. January 18, 2011 at 10:45 am

    Yeah, the Brouwer’s omission is amusing. Even if they had a bad experience there or have issues with someone there, it’s just pretty unacceptable to leave it off the list.

  3. derkruk
    January 18, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    RE: #5 New York’s Forgotten Trio
    To be fair to Draft Magazine, at the very end of the article online, they have a link to beer-bar chains they love. It’s there that they list both D.B.A. and the Ginger Man.

    But yeah, how do you leave off Brouwer’s? Also, Churchill’s in North County is as worthy as any other place in San Diego. They had a sour fest last October that was pretty amazing.

    • January 20, 2011 at 9:28 am

      I wish I had made it to Churchills. It was high on our list but we were so hungover by the time that we made it up North, we had only enough energy for Port/Lost Abbey.

      Thanks for the comment.

  4. Aaron
    January 19, 2011 at 8:45 am

    If customer experience is part of the list, then I can see leaving Brouwer’s off. I think their arrogance and crap service is wearing thin.

    • January 20, 2011 at 9:35 am

      This has been a topic on this site in the past. I think that a lot of people get upset by what they experience over there. But, to add a bit of perspective, they are a hardworking bunch who have to deal with a lot of questions, indecision and taste requests.

      That said, there is no debate that the bar staff can be a bit rigid. But we have come to accept this as part of their motif and charm. Even been to Toronado in SF? They made the list.

      Good comment.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s