Last Call for the Beer Bar?

Discussion in 'Beer News & Releases' started by monstershu, Oct 26, 2021.

  1. monstershu

    monstershu Initiate (39) Jun 10, 2020 Illinois

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  2. Resistance88

    Resistance88 Initiate (146) Apr 9, 2015 California

    I've never been a big bar person. With the exception of visiting Surly Goat in West Hollywood when they have vintage Parabola or Fremont stuff on tap i never understood paying the price of half a pack for 1 pour of something
  3. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,161) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    It might be interesting to start a thread with a poll on BAs preferences on going to Brewery Taprooms vs. Craft Beer Bars.

    Prior to the pandemic I would go to a variety of local craft beer bars. While being shutdown for an extended period of time I have found that after being allowed to 'go outside' I have been going predominantly to Brewery Taprooms vs. Craft Beer Bars with no conscious thought here. Maybe just a situation that I am fortunate to have so many high quality small, local craft breweries (with associated taprooms) nearby?

  4. UrbanCaveman

    UrbanCaveman Crusader (748) Sep 30, 2014 Ohio

    There aren't terribly many "beer bars" billed as such near me - a Yard House downtown is the only thing that jumps out as an example, and it doesn't exactly specialize in rarities, imports, or the like. There are some odd niche places, like Taste of Belgium carrying 12+ quality Belgian imports on tap at all times, though it's primarily a waffle restaurant as opposed to a bar.

    That said, the better bottle shops around here typically have 20+ taps now, and serve pints while one browses plus growler fills to go. Seems to be a lucrative business model.
  5. MrOH

    MrOH Poo-Bah (1,807) Jul 5, 2010 Malta

    Hanging out with friends and not having to worry about cleaning your house, people watching, meeting new people, picking up chicks, etc.
  6. Resistance88

    Resistance88 Initiate (146) Apr 9, 2015 California

    Yea i get that. But we kids from South Central/ Inglewood . We drank in the projects or in alleys
    . Now we're old and married and shit . I do frequent taprooms because of the choice of not having to pay for a full ass pour of something you may hate. 4oz 8oz and 16oz options are the shit. Have met and chatted with new people but that's fun for small time

    I understand everyone's different and i don't wish for bars to disappear.

    One thing i wish for though is baby/kid free taprooms. Make it stop
  7. BigIronH

    BigIronH Savant (956) Oct 31, 2019 Michigan
    Society Trader

    I didn’t think about this aspect but very true and I see it happening here as well. One of my favorite bottle shops usually has a half dozen taps which in my area of Mid-Michigan is as much “craft” beer as you will see on tap at any given place that’s not a brewery. So, I really have no good reason to frequent a bar at this time. Overall, like others have said, I feel I’m more inclined to visit a brewery in general as opposed to a bar. Cheers.
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  8. chipawayboy

    chipawayboy Devotee (461) Oct 26, 2007 Massachusetts

    Glendale Tap ain’t bad either for vintage CA stouts and Barleywines… cheers
  9. Resistance88

    Resistance88 Initiate (146) Apr 9, 2015 California

    They can screw themselves.
    You seen what happened when the people of color exercising their rights as citizens showed up??
    Never setting foot in that place ever.

    Thanks for the advice tho. Cheers!!
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  10. dbl_delta

    dbl_delta Poo-Bah (3,239) Sep 22, 2012 Pennsylvania
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    I hadn't really thought about it until this thread started, but nowadays my default in-person "go to" is a brewery rather than a bar. The prices are lower, the servers are generally more knowledgeable, and the beer is fresher. Plus there are probably fewer people in your immediate vicinity (thank you, COVID-19). I'm not sure this is a good thing, but it's one more example of the ways that the pandemic has changed our lives.
  11. Resistance88

    Resistance88 Initiate (146) Apr 9, 2015 California

    One thing i forgot to mention.
    Servers at the taprooms i frequent always suggest having their beers at the taproom as oposed to a bar. They touch on freshness, proper keg storage and temperature factors all of which the taproom wins in.
    Sucks for business/ bar owners but they know the risks and all and i HOPE they have a plan B
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  12. Giantspace

    Giantspace Champion (893) Dec 22, 2011 Pennsylvania

    I have only been to breweries to have a beer since re opening. I’m sure I will get to a bar at some point but $6 fresh pours at a small local spot is much better for me than a bar.

  13. RaulMondesi

    RaulMondesi Poo-Bah (4,030) Dec 11, 2006 California
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    I’m not down for $20 burgers and truffle fries (which seem to go in hand with craft beer bars). Either way, umm, shit…I dunno anymore.
  14. 40ontarget

    40ontarget Zealot (533) Feb 7, 2012 Colorado

    There was no place in the entire world that I would rather drink a beer at than Falling Rock. I will certainly miss that place.
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  15. ChicagoJ

    ChicagoJ Meyvn (1,421) Feb 2, 2015 Illinois

    There is plenty of room for a solid beer bar if they provide good service and products at a reasonable price. I prefer draft and cask conditioned beer over bottles/cans, so I continue to try to both breweries and solid craft beer bars in addition to beers I bring home.

    Any time I head to a new city, I always check out what craft beer bars and breweries are available. Special places like The Silver Stamp (Las Vegas), San Diego Tap Room (Pacific Beach), ChurchKey (DC), HopLeaf and The Beer Temple (Chicago) do such a great job curating their selections and always having great offerings that these types of places should remain in business (baring continued shut downs, the reason a few places in the news article cited for closing), and will always be among the first places I visit.

    I agree general places with a few local and regional beers, not well curated, places with bad lines, stale kegs or service, places with nothing special to offer will have a harder time hanging on in this climate. And I don't go to or understand the 60-100 tap places, not sure how any of it can stay fresh/turnover.

    In terms of Breweries and their Tap Rooms, many breweries brew bad beer. I'd peg 40-60% + should close for the long term health of the beer community. Four breweries recently opened closest to my home since COVID, and they are either terrible or mediocre at best (at least for non haze or pastry stouts, which they mostly brew and I don't drink). Many young drinkers stick with or switch to seltzer, because Americans eat and drink a lot of sweet products, and seltzer is consistent like pop, unlike the hit or miss haze/pastry beers that are common today.
  16. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Poo-Bah (1,906) Mar 12, 2013 California
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    Aren't brewery tap rooms just tied house beer bars? Isn't it ultimately a question of quality, variety, and general vibe?

    I am sure that the explosion of breweries (offering fresher and cheaper beers often) has eaten into demand for dedicated beer bars, as has the permeating of craft beer into the mainstream to the point that many dives or sports bars carry a taplist that serves the beer needs of casual drinkers. But (like @ChicagoJ said) if a venue is willing to make the effort to offer something special then I definitely still see a niche that can be filled.

    My favorite local beer bar may not be a daily drinker spot due to prices but it does offer beer that cannot be had any where else. They currently have sours on from cantillon, fantome, and Russian River. A Pohalla stout that is insanely good, several vintage imperial stouts, Sierra Nevada porter, and just kicked a taras boulba keg. They also have a rotating slew of ipas from highly regarded breweries as well as great selection of European imports and classic styles from exceptional domestic breweries.

    On top of that the bartenders are all top notch and extremely well informed and seem genuinely into beer and the other patrons you encounter at the bar are generally an interesting lot. Certainly not as much beer for my buck as I could get at a local taproom or at some other local bars, but absolutely unique and exceptional offerings that are worth it to me regularly
  17. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Poo-Bah (1,906) Mar 12, 2013 California
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  18. Harrison8

    Harrison8 Poo-Bah (4,543) Dec 6, 2015 Missouri
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    Really would be a shame to lose all craft beer bars. I love popping into them for a pour of something I'd have to otherwise drive 30 minutes across town to get, or to get a pour of a limited bottle that I may not otherwise want to buy. It helps to try hyped beer, whereas a bottle may carry an extremely high trade value or sell out instantly, but remains on tap for a day or two.

    I do spend a majority of my draft beer money at breweries, but I will gladly visit one local craft beer bar. The owner does a good job of keeping real local taps on, and getting some really great distro stuff too.

    Emphasis on local, because those beers are made within the city metropolitan area.
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  19. bubseymour

    bubseymour Poo-Bah (3,322) Oct 30, 2010 Maryland
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    I think craft beer bars are going to struggle going forward if the beer is the primary focus of the business, it needs to be a quality restaurant first and foremost with a high quality craft beer taplist as secondary to survive.
  20. bubseymour

    bubseymour Poo-Bah (3,322) Oct 30, 2010 Maryland
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  21. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Poo-Bah (1,794) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    This is a great point. For example, Armsby Abby in MA is the only place that I know of outside of VT in New England that has Hill Farmstead on tap (all the time, and multiple lines).

    I still go to "beer bars", although they're mostly just restaurants that also have great tap lists.

    Sure, I go to breweries more often because, well, there's just so damn many of them around.

    But I still love going to bars to try multiple local craft breweries offerings in one spot. As opposed to traveling all over the place to hit different breweries.

    Not to mention, I still dig imports, especially during Oktoberfest season.

    Finally, I'm not a big food truck guy. I kind of like going to a restaurant and eating.
  22. rgordon

    rgordon Meyvn (1,177) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    Sounds exactly like my 1974 and before. At one point my future and still wife asked me why the dishes were in the bathtub. It was a long story.
  23. Rug

    Rug Meyvn (1,352) Aug 20, 2018 Massachusetts
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    I've been meaning to try Armsby Abby. I go to shows at the Palladium frequently so I'll have to stop in there beforehand one of these days. You recommend it I assume?
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  24. bubseymour

    bubseymour Poo-Bah (3,322) Oct 30, 2010 Maryland
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    Agree with all your points. And food trucks are very hit or miss. Only thing consistent is they are generally expensive, at least the “foodie” ones that show up at the local breweries.
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  25. beerjerk666

    beerjerk666 Poo-Bah (3,054) Aug 22, 2010 Florida
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    I never was one to frequent a bar.
    Just can't seem to justify spending that much money on drinking.
    Now, if the bar has good food and a decent tap list, that's a different story altogether.
  26. ChicagoJ

    ChicagoJ Meyvn (1,421) Feb 2, 2015 Illinois

    Do you care to share the name of what sounds like a treasure we should all consider visiting in California?

    Chicago doesn’t even have a distributor for Cantillon after the Shelton Brothers became bankrupt, in large part due to a $2.1M judgement against them awarded to their OG Chicago “Red House” distributor. Shelton Brothers left them for another, and they were sued as a result.

    Illinois has the worst (or Wirtz) set of laws benefiting distributors / hurting breweries. We previously lost great American breweries like Bell’s for years and New Glarus forever, as a result of these laws.

    There was no Zwanze Day here last month because there Cantillon has stopped distributing here to their most recent distributor, or any other, after conclusion of the lawsuit.
    #26 ChicagoJ, Oct 27, 2021
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2021
  27. LeedsZimbabwe

    LeedsZimbabwe Initiate (154) Nov 23, 2014 New York

    I probably don't have a view that extends to other cities or towns, but I frequent a lot of the beer bars in NYC and have to say that they always have a place in our local beer culture. It's pretty common for my wife and I to go to dinner and grab some drinks once a week, and thanks to the number of interesting beer bars in NYC, we're able to stop by somewhere with at least a couple of things for each of us to matter what part of town we are in. Additionally, with the pandemic a lot of these establishments offer cans and bottles to go that would otherwise mean trading or travelling to acquire.

    The cost itself, while higher than buying cans and drinking at home, is well-justified in my opinion. Many places have a nicer taplist than my fridge, many bars have nice sidepull taps (one even specializing in Mliko pours), and the beertenders themselves are often worth the visit alone - a local bar to me has 2-3 beertenders, all of whom are cicerones, make stellar suggestions and know far more about the history of beer than I do, and have a personal knowledge of breweries and people who own breweries and are in the industry.

    I still like having a nice beer at home and watching a movie, but bar culture at least in NYC is an essential, inseparable part of beer culture. I'm not sure how true that is of other cities, but I think it's at least true here.
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  28. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (3,046) Mar 12, 2009 New York
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    Wow hope my stopping beer consumption didn't cut into profits and contribute to this unfortunate trend haha.

    I can think of three beer bars at which I had some of my best drinking experiences, and even though I don't and can't go now I'll be sad if they close. One example I can think of was at DeCicco's back in the day, having a night long side by side tasting of CBS, KBS, Black Biscuit, and FIS on tap, with friends, and the server too (also a friend). Love tap rooms as anyone who even slightly knows me can vouch, but a great beer bar is a treasure.
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  29. dcotom

    dcotom Poo-Bah (2,823) Aug 4, 2014 Iowa
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    I'm all in on whisk(e)y bars these days.
  30. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Poo-Bah (1,906) Mar 12, 2013 California
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    Of course, just saw the headline and thought it was the perfect compliment to this thread.
    Definitely, Dead Reckoning in lovely Arcata, CA. Its home to nice record shop too. And the tap list is consistently impressive, and at times like now, down right astonishing.
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  31. moodenba

    moodenba Zealot (504) Feb 2, 2015 New York

    Not surprising news in the NYTimes article about the closure of beer bars. Restaurants, bars, and brewery outlets are all under pressure. Covid is a primary cause of the problems. But breweries and beer bars are especially at risk because of the proliferation of outlets, as well as the instability of the product mix.
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  32. ChangSing

    ChangSing Initiate (168) May 5, 2013 Illinois

    Craft beer bars don't get the "hype" (all the pastry stouts, fruited sours..) beer 75% of the beer world creams their pants over. This this huge segment of the crowd, having very good and well rounded selection (what was considered great 6 yrs ago, is "Meh" to many now) isn't worth it.

    To me, where I go is all about the service and vibe. I go to Solemn Oath sill in IL because the bartenders are great and so are many of the regulars. The bars I like going to have a solid list, and I can watch football at the same time. And there's girls there too.
  33. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Poo-Bah (1,794) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Ha, I've never actually been (going for the first time in December). But I've heard countless stories on here about how awesome that place is. Heard the food is stellar too, especially the burger.
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  34. woemad

    woemad Poo-Bah (4,000) Jun 8, 2003 Washington
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    There's several great beer bars in and near my city, but I prefer to walk when imbibing whenever I can, and there's 5 good-to-great local breweries within a 15 minute walk from my digs, so they get the most love from me. Consequently, those beer bars don't see as much of me.
  35. bubseymour

    bubseymour Poo-Bah (3,322) Oct 30, 2010 Maryland
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    I just hope the holy trinity of beer bars in Waterbury (Pro Pig, Reservior, Black Back Pub) survive, that is beer Mecca of the US IMO, but I still have a few more places to visit in my journeys. They all have great food, so I think they’ll pull thru.
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  36. jhavs

    jhavs Poo-Bah (2,005) Apr 16, 2015 New York
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    I consider them restaurants more than strictly “beer bars”.
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  37. jhavs

    jhavs Poo-Bah (2,005) Apr 16, 2015 New York
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    Lots of excellent beer bars in my area (Brooklyn) and Manhattan.

    One of my favorites did close down, Mission Dolores.

    Spuytin Duyvil was closed for a while but reopened a couple weeks ago.
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  38. rgordon

    rgordon Meyvn (1,177) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    We lost Preyer Brewing just before Covid. They were always marginal at best. Joymongers, Little Brother, and Natty Greene's down Elm Street are doing well. Along with Oden just over on Lee Street (West Gate City Blvd.) These are still good days for really local beer.....There are more here and there. Avett Brothers at Greensboro Coliseum New Year's Eve. The third best live show I've seen there behind Paul McCartney and Paul Simon. Along with everything else, tickets are more expensive than ever.
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  39. Rug

    Rug Meyvn (1,352) Aug 20, 2018 Massachusetts
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    Good to know lol
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  40. woodchipper

    woodchipper Meyvn (1,420) Oct 25, 2005 Connecticut