10 Best American Brewpubs Every Beer Fan Should Visit
The beer industry ballooned to nearly 2,000 breweries by the end of last year, according to the Brewers Association craft beer industry group. That growing community also includes 1,063 brewpubs nationwide, which is up from 1,020 in 2009 and includes nearly 60 brewpubs added last year alone.
That's not too shabby for a tool brewers began using only 30 years ago. Prohibition knocked out American brewpubs and brewing taverns that dated back to the Colonial era, but early craft brewers saw them as a means of getting their beer directly to the drinker without going through middlemen such as distributors, bars and liquor stores. In 1992, Scottish import Bert Grant opened Grant's Brewery Pub in a train depot in Yakima, Wash., to brew and promote his pale ale, IPA and Scottish Ale. Though it closed in 2005, Grant's brewpub left a business model and legacy that's become as synonymous with craft beer as high alcohol volume and mounds of hops.
With brewers in every corner of America wooing beer lovers into their brewpubs and American cities pointing tourists directly to those pubs to show off their local flavor, finding the best brewpub for your buck can be a tough task. The editors and readers at beer rating site RateBeer have weighed in on all America's brewpubs and have ranked them by beer selection, food, service, value and ambience. We looked at their list, eliminated redundancies from certain states and came up with the Top 10 brewpubs America has to offer. RateBeer was as thorough as possible, but feel free to hit the comments field if your favorite is missing:
10. Draught House Pub and Brewery
The weird little town seemingly built on Shiner Bock empties knows its beer. The Draught House soaks the city's broad beer palate with 75 taps, including a handful of house brews such as the sessionable 3.9% ABV Guy Smiley mild ale and citrusy Sunburst pale ale. The other dozen or so handles are a who's who of Texas, Midwest and West Coast brews with a smattering of Northeast and Euro beers thrown in for good measure. The five-item menu of pizza, calzones, nachos, quesadillas and chips and salsa aren't exactly overwhelming, but they're more than adequate when paired with weekly specials such as $2.75 themed pints and free bratwurst.
9. American Flatbread Burlington Hearth
RateBeer ranked Vermont brewer The Alchemist's brewpub ahead of this Burlington favorite, but Hurricane Irene destroyed that spot last year by flooding Alchemist's unfortunately named home of Waterbury, Vt., with tap-high water. American Flatbread is a worthy, if far-flung, substitute that offers 22 taps including two casks and more than a dozen homebrews. Combine those with a two-page menu of namesake flatbread pizzas loaded with locally produced and organically grown toppings and you have the brewpub embodiment of Burlington's laid-back, hyperlocal culture.