GOOD FOR WHAT ALES YOU
Drink Like a Local in 6 Beer Cities
We uncover pubs worth the trip in places that seriously know their brews: Brooklyn, Denver, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Portland, and Salt Lake City.
Limited space makes brewpubs a challenge in Brooklyn, but the borough is home to some of the best beer bars in the country. In a disheveled section of the trendy Williamsburg neighborhood, this nearly anonymous bar is marked only by the red wrought-iron bars that protect the stellar beer collection inside. On most nights, the narrow space is packed with local hipsters and not-so-local beer fanatics bent on sampling Spuyten Duyvil's six intriguing draft beers and over 140 bottles. What to drink The draft list is always rotating; owner Joe Carroll nicely balances old world with mostly Northeastern American beers, like those from New Hampshire's Pennichuck Brewing. 359 Metropolitan Ave., 718/963-4140, spuytenduyvilnyc.com.
A warehouse-like space with mismatched bar stools and chipping paint, Barcade is part beer bar and part vintage video game parlor. With more than 20 mostly American craft brews on tap and even more 1980s arcade games, Barcade gets packed with tight-jeaned, shaggy-haired 20-somethings, drinking great beer and trying to impress girls with their high scores on Centipede. What to drink Anything from Southampton Ales, Sixpoint Craft Ales, or the Chelsea Brewing Company. 388 Union Ave., 718/302-6464, barcadebrooklyn.com.
This simple, elegant beer bar is meant for sipping unusual brews and discussing hop varieties rather than chugging cans and talking football. Owners Justin and Tricia Philips will be happy to enlighten you on all topics beer and, if you're nice, might even dip into their basement-aged stash. What to drink Justin Philips rotates his menu daily, so it's wise to seek his advice. He's a big fan of the up-and coming Italian craft beer scene, but he also pours plenty of local beers as well, like ones from Captain Lawrence Brewing, Sixpoint, and Brooklyn Brewery. 427 B Seventh Ave., 718/965-1196, beertable.com.
Great Divide Tap Room
Colorado has more than 100 craft breweries, and arguably the best is Great Divide. Voted 14th best brewery in the world by ratebeer.com in 2008, GD brews intense beers with expansive flavors to match the local landscape. The taproom serves GD standards as well as bar-only specialty brews that can be taken home in bottles, half-gallon growlers, and various keg sizes. What to drink Start with something light like the summer-appropriate Samurai Rice Ale—the addition of rice gives it a slightly sour, fruity flavor. Follow it up with one of the best American stouts: the bold and balanced Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout. 2201 Arapahoe St., 303/296-9460, greatdivide.com.
Wynkoop Brewing Company
The beer-crazy state's oldest brewpub—and supposedly the country's largest—was founded in 1988 and named for Denver's first sheriff, Edward W. Wynkoop. The scene is lively: Students and loosened-tie professionals drink homemade beer and slowly get clumsier at pool, darts, and shuffleboard. Foodwise, expect a hodgepodge of upscale all-American bar dishes made with local meats and produce. What to drink Wynkoop nicely interprets classic styles with its St. Charles ESB, Wixa Weiss, and its signature brew, Railyard Ale, a fruity take on the malty Octoberfest style. Also consider Patty's Chile Beer, a light lager brewed with ancho peppers and Anaheim chiles. 1634 18th St., 303/297-2700, wynkoop.com.
Lakefront Palm Garden
Brothers Russ and Jim Klisch, whose last name couldn't sound more like a brand of beer, have grown Lakefront from humble origins. They began brewing in a former bakery and were soon distributing around Milwaukee. To keep up with their popularity, the Klisches bought a bigger space from the city and in 1999 opened the Palm Garden, a family-style beer hall where visitors can enjoy keenly crafted ales and lagers and, on Fridays, a fish fry with beer-appropriate entertainment: live polka music. What to drink Riverwest Stein beer, a malty amber lager named for the neighborhood where Lakefront was founded. 1872 N. Commerce St., 414/273-8300, cafevecchio.com/palmgarden.
Milwaukee Ale House
This sprawling, multilevel brewpub on the Milwaukee River has a dining room, two bars, and—in the summer—copious dockside seating. Six public boat slips make the transition from "day on the water" to "night at the pub" far too easy, while live blues, rock and reggae, stick-to-your-ribs comfort food (try the Ale House Cheese Burger), and, of course, the beer draw the after-work crowd. What to drink The Solomon Juneau, a crisp golden ale, and Louie's Demise, a malty amber ale honoring a 19th-century Sheboygan bar-goer whose life ended with a beer glass to the head. 233 N. Water St., 414/226-2337, ale-house.com.