As the craft beer industry evolves, consumer habits shift. Especially as outdated laws change, breweries sell their product directly to the consumer; folks are buying and drinking beer from the source. Ultimately, that means retail lines are blurred. Beer bars offer bottles and cans to go. Craft bottle shops have at least a handful of draft options. Moreover, we’ve seen an increase in options at some of our favorite local haunts. More than likely that rad beer bar is serving excellent natural wine or has a solid cocktail program. Your favorite coffee shop or record store might stock a carefully curated beer program. There’s certainly a simple elegance in specialization, but we’ve seen exciting combinations of retail, food, and beverage at bars that are starting to look more like all-day cafes than late-night haunts.
Our list of the best beer bars of 2019 reflects some of these changes. Our top pick is a heritage beer bar that sports a drool-worthy natty wine list. We’ve featured three options that blur the line between bar and bottle shop. One is essentially a craft maltster’s portfolio on draft. Craft beer’s landscape is developing and we’re along for the ride.
We’ve listed our top choices. They’re in no particular order except for TOØRST, which we happily proclaim our Best Beer Bar of 2019.
615 Manhattan Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11222 | (718) 389-6034
Sometimes the obvious answer is still the best one. For those in the know, TØRST is a world-class institution in craft beer. And even for those not in the know, it’s a must-visit destination in NYC. Much like maybe Hill Farmstead or Noma, it’s one of those places that feels like cheating to name as the “best,” because everyone says it is. But, after stopping and thinking you realize it’ss the best because it’s proven time and again. TØRST used to house Luksus, a Michelin-starred restaurant, and even after that project closed, the food menu remained outstanding. Since taking over as Beverage Director, Mark Verling has maintained one of the consistently best draft lists around while adding an incredibly robust natural wine program. The hospitality is always on point making guests feel taken care of but not babied. For all these reasons and more (the cozy interior, Verling’s ever-entertaining Instagram stories, frequent tap takeovers, the way the light shines through the front window, the extensive bottle list, etc., etc.), we’ve named TØRST the best beer bar of 2019.
2927 Larimer St, Denver, CO 80205
We’ve been exceedingly impressed by Denver in 2019. Its breweries, its natural wine bars, and its craft beer bars are among the best in the country. Finn’s Manor, like TØRST in NYC, is a must-visit for any visiting beer fan. A fantastic cocktail bar, Finn’s Manor has been sporting one of the best beer lists we’ve come across. The RiNo bar features some of the best beers that Colorado has to offer as well across a diverse selection of styles–although around GABF some were quick to point out a New England IPA-heavy lineup. But, who doesn’t want juice every now and then?
The Rake at Admiral Maltings
5047, 651A W Tower Ave, Alameda, CA 94501 | (510) 666-6419
One of the most unique bars we’ve come across, The Rake, housed within craft malt company Admiral Maltings, pours draft beer from Admiral customers. Meaning, that every beer is an example of Admiral Maltings’ product. It’s a wonderful way to show off your work and demonstrate the importance and quality of craft maltsters. It also happens to be a cool and comfortable place to spend an afternoon. Plus, it’s right next door to Almanac if you happen to get a hankerin’ for some sour beer.
The Grand Delancey
115 Delancey St, New York, NY 10002
The newest venture from East Coast craft beer king Greg Engert (ChurchKey, The Sovereign, Bluejacket), Grand Delancey is New York’s latest craft beer destination. Historically we’ve favored trim and tidy draft lists, but Grand Delancey’s 50 taps are just as well-curated as any teeny beer bar. Showcasing the best of New York City as well as a wide variety of stellar beers from around the country and beyond, the beer list is broken up into flavor categories–like Engert’s other ventures–for a helpful drinking experience.