What makes a great beer bar? Think of your favorite place to enjoy a pint, what makes it special to you, and that’s what makes a great beer bar. It may have mind-boggling variety, or a small range of beers that are lovingly tended. It may be funky, elegant, noisy, laid-back, spare, or historic; with music or without; serving great food or none at all; grittily urban or gently rustic. But it will certainly stand out from other bar choices for some combination of reasons, enough to bring patrons back again and again, and to lead them to recommend the bar to others.
It may have mind-boggling variety, or a small range of beers that are lovingly tended.
We asked a long list of writers, industry professionals and beer lovers for the names of their favorite bars in their home town, plus a bar away from home that stands out. The list obviously cannot be comprehensive, but each name represents a difficult selection made by someone who loves beer. Check out some of these recommendations, and see if these bars belong on your list of favorites.
Humpy’s, 610 West 6th Ave., Anchorage, 907-276-BEER
Hugo’s, 25 1/2 N Block, Fayetteville, 72701, 501-521-7585.
Pizza D’Action, 2919 W. Markham, Little Rock, 72205, 666-5403.
Sticky Fingerz, President Clinton Blvd, Little Rock, 501-372-7707.
Tiny Tim’s Pizza on the Square, 21 W. Mountain, Fayetteville, 72701, 501-521-5551.
Barclay’s, 5940 College Ave., Oakland, 94618, 510-654-1650.
Father’s Office, 1018 Montana, Santa Monica, 90403, 310-393-2330. We had our first draft Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Grant’s Russian Imperial Stout and Portland Timberline there in 1988 and other memorable beer before that.
Liar’s Club, 3844 Mission Boulevard, San Diego, 92109, 858-488-2340. Best beer selection, bar food, and juke box in San Diego.
O’ Briens, 4646 Convoy St, San Diego, 92111, 858-715-1745. Great beer selection.
The Tilted Stick, 4970 Voltaire St., Ocean Beach, 92107, 619-222-6895. Great beer selection.
Toronado, 547 Haight, San Francisco, 94117, 415-863-2276. Located in the Haight, this small, gritty bar has an interesting mix of biker leather, punked out rockers and plain ordinary folks, and one of the best line-ups of beer on the West Coast. There are other beer bars in the Bay area with a longer list of taps, but it’s doubtful that any are better thought-out than the Toronado. Always several Belgian beers on tap, Anchor and other local products, and a number of “heavy hitters.”