Anyone else noticed just how many great beers there are in America these days? How did this happen? We guess it could be because American microbreweries are now back to the level they were at in the 1900s (going from under 100 to over 1,700 in the last 30 years), strengthening the beer market through diversity and competition. Or it could be that people have stepped out of the "Great taste, less filling" safety bubble. Honestly, we don’t really care why, just so long as it keeps happening. If you’re looking to pair some craft beers with great food, here are ten gastropubs leading the way.
1. Bunkbar: Portland, OR
Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary added the term "gastropub" in 2012, and if the word were accompanied by a picture, it would be of Portland's Bunkbar, who boast a beer selection featuring everything from the dank, astringent Boneyard IPA to the lighter lemon-honey Double Mtn Kolsch. And you'll need to know your beers when you get here, because not matching the right beer with, say, the Pork Belly Cubano or the Oregon Albacore Tuna Melt could be like having the Blazer’s training team rehab your ailing knees - it's still good, but you know it could be better.
2. Revolution Brewery: Chicago, IL
Despite the 20-foot tables and wraparound bar, getting a table at Revolution Brewery in Chicago's Logan Square is a feat – beer and food lovers alike just flock to this place. Not only do they offer an extensive beer list - from local breweries to the beers they brew in-house - but you can also eat-to-regret on their extensive menu (although most people don't make it past the bacon grease popcorn appetizer. Because, you know, it's popcorn. Cooked in bacon grease). If you're one who likes to see behind the scenes of what you consume - be it the sweaty clowns who make cotton candy or watching Snooki’s child grow into the reality TV monster he’s destined to become - this is the place for you. While you chow down on the La Pryor Farms Confit Pork Chop, you can stare at the giant copper tanks as they brew their 14 award-winning beers in the back. That’s quite a view!
3. Slow's BBQ: Detroit, MI
If, like any good American, you assume that the closer you get to Canada, the worse the BBQ has to get, you'll be surprised to see Slow's consistently get rave reviews from even the most southern of folk. Slow's boasts the BBQ spectrum: Texas Style Beef Brisket, Carolina Style Pulled Pork, Alaskan Sockeye Salmon and much, much more. On the sandwich side of things, The Longhorn (thin-sliced beef brisket with onion marmalade, smoked gouda and spicy sauce) and The Yardbird (pulled smoked Amish chicken breast drenched in mustard sauce, tossed with sautéed mushrooms and cheddar and topped with applewood bacon) are favorites. Pair those with one of their weekly-tapped, cask conditioned ales, and you've got yourself a good 'ole fashioned Michigan Meat Mania.
4. Barley's: Greenville, SC
Barley’s stands out on this list because, instead of various forms of meat, their food specialty is gourmet pizza, from the Thai chicken pizza (Thai peanut sauce, chicken, green onions, carrots, red peppers, cilantro and cucumbers) to a laundry list of specifically New York style pizzas. And you could drink beer for days, too – Barley’s boasts one of the “largest beer selections in the South East”. And if drinking a craft wheat beer while eating Roasted Red Pepper Bruschetta is a little too rich for your taste, there’s no shame in ordering an 18” Meat Eater Pizza (bacon, pepperoni, Italian sausage, ham and beefalo) with a Stone Double Bastard Ale.
5. Quinn's Gastropub: Seattle, WA
There's that term again - gastropub. And you better get used to it, because bars - er, gastropubs - like Quinn's are the leading forces in the revolution of how you drink beer and eat food. "We’ve given bar food a promotion," boasts Quinn's website. And they have, with "hand-cut fries, roasted beet salad, classic fish and chips, wild boar sloppy Joe, and an awesome burger." Among their prodigious beer selection are several rare Trappist ales, meaning that, at Quinn’s, you could not only taste some of the rarest ales in the world, brewed by actual Cistercian monks, but use it to wash down a wild boar sloppy Joe. If that doesn’t make you feel like a man’s man living in the Middle Ages, we don’t know what will.
6. Euclid Hall: Denver, CO
If we could get away with just writing the words "lots of meat, lots of beer" then we would, but we get paid by the word, and we need to eat too. Euclid Hall’s menu boasts a Fresh "Hammed" Kurobuta Pork Chop (cauliflower purée, roasted Brussels sprouts, honeycrisp apple, baby mustard greens, Fynbos vinaigrette) and a Lamb Pho 1317 (five nose to tail preparations of Colorado lamb, rich lamb broth, udon noodles, carrots, cucumber, peppers, herbs) while the beer menu goes on for days. Pair a Beef Short Rib Kielbasa with an Odell IPA, or a Boudin Noir with a Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro, but don't go nuts and get the Steak n' Sauce with an Avery White Rascal because, come on, a wheat beer with smoky steak? What is this, the 8th grade cafeteria?
7. Crescent Moon Ale House: Omaha, NE
This is way better than going to the actual moon: If you were going to the actual moon, you’d be drinking Capri Suns and eating powdered hotdogs - not cramming as many .40c "Inferno" wings down your gullet at the Crescent Moon Ale House in Omaha Nebraska as you can possibly fit in your distended stomach. Sure, on the actual moon you could look back on the Earth in a humbling stupor, thinking about how trivial and alone the human race is compared to the vast, infinite universe that surrounds it... but at the Crescent Moon Ale House in Omaha Nebraska, you can cram $1 sliders into your face all Saturday long while choosing one of the 38 craft beers they have on tap (featuring several from Boulevard Brewing Co., Lagunitas Brewing Co., and The Great Divide Brewing Co.). So decide whether you'd rather be on a lifeless dead rock in the oxygen-less, unforgiving void of space, or meet us at The Crescent Moon Ale House in Omaha Nebraska to drink beer and talk about our sweet beards.
8. El Bait Shop: Des Moines, IA
If the fact that KISS just recently visited (ordering two Root Downs and two beers, then promptly leaving. In face paint, by the way) doesn't have you buying tickets to Des Moines right now, how about their Chili Cheeseburger (1/3 pound, seasoned Angus beef patty, grilled, topped with homemade chili, American cheese and onions)? Claiming to have the biggest selection of American micro-brews in the world, this buried diamond in Iowa is a must-stop. If you're just "driving through" Iowa, or "tailgating for Iowa football with all the Bud Light and Hot Cheetos I need," stop right now. Drop the Bud Light, finish your Slim Jim ("A man shall never waste the cured meat" - Andrew Jackson), grow a beard, go to El Bait Shop and order a Blackened Tilapia Po Boy with Hopburst IPA. Now!
9. Magnolia Pub: San Francisco, CA
Magnolia Pub, located in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco, maintains the atmosphere of its neighborhood while bringing invigorated, state-of-the-art brewing and cooking methods to the table. Not only do they have multiple cask ales on tap, but their house brews have been crafted to perfection. The Proving Ground IPA packs a punch, while the Gris-Gris might be the nectar of the gods. But don’t you dare walk back into the hippie Mecca without first trying one of their various house sausages, or at least the beer-braised short ribs! And if you love surprises and beer, be sure to stop by one of their Cellar Parties where they “pop strange brews and unusual bottles from our cellar!” We’re…pretty sure that’s not a euphemism.
10. Sunset Grill and Tap: Boston, MA
What can we say that would separate us from the extensive list of five-star reviews on Yelp? Biggest beer selection in Boston? Check. Tex-Mex cuisine that will make you forget you're in cold, gray Massachusetts? Check. Incredibly knowledgeable staff that will learn you a thing or two about the fermenting process and complexity of the Grimbergen Blond, just one beer tucked away in their nine-page drink menu? Check. If a night of eating gourmet nachos, enormous servings of buffalo wings and Boston-renowned steam burgers while never drinking two beers from the same country sounds like a good night to you, then Boston's Sunset Grill and Tap is where you need to be.