The annually evolving list has 23 different bars this year compared to last year.
CraftBeer.com — the beer-focused website from the trade group the Brewers Association — has once again released its annual list of Great American Beer Bars, highlighting the “best” bar for beer in every state as nominated and voted on by about 7,000 of its readers.
What amazes me is how lists like these are necessary now for completely different reasons than they used to be. Even just a decade ago, a list of the best craft beer bar in each state was helpful because there might only be a handful of good craft beer bars. For instance, when I moved to New York in 2008, it didn’t take me long to familiarize myself with every decent craft beer bar in the entire city of 8 million people. (Admittedly, NYC was a bit behind in the craft beer boom at the time, but still….) However, nowadays, we’re spoilt for choice — so instead of simply offering up a decent place to grab a brew, lists like Great American Beer Bars now tease out which of the many options out there have been pegged as truly exceptional.
Along those lines, CraftBeer.com has now been publishing this list since 2012, and yet, at least a third of the bars included for 2019 have never been on the list before. Meanwhile, 23 of the bars this year are different than last year. And last year, about half of the bars were different than the year before — meaning the list continues to change year-to-year as new bars open, established classics become recognized again, and old pubs decide to step up their beer game.
As a result, even if you don’t necessarily agree with who is listed from your state, the entire exercise serves as a reminder that gone are the days of “Oh, you’re in DC, so go to the Brickskellar” (RIP!) or “Oh, you’re in Philly, so go to Monk’s Café” (alive and well and recently pouring Pliny the Younger!) Beer lovers have so many amazing choices of where to grab a beer in 2019 that the fact that your favorite bar isn’t on the list is actually pretty damn awesome. Maybe for 2020, CraftBeer.com can turn the list to the Great American Beer Crawls to help highlight more of these amazing options!
CraftBeer.com’s full list for 2019 can be found here.