Photo by John Holl
Craft Brewed, Nashville
Nashville is becoming the premiere beer destination city of the South, and if you want to taste all that the area has to offer under one roof (and then take some beer to go), this is the place.
What it is: Half bar, half bottle shop, all wonderful for beer lovers. With an impressive, well-curated tap list that pulls heavily from local options but still acknowledges the wider beer world, it does the same with its packaged offerings, much of which is stored in refrigerated coolers.
Why it’s great: It’s become a hub for beer enthusiasts, both local and from afar. Walk in at any time of day, on any day and you’ll encounter folks sharing bottles, stories, and recommendations. A knowledgeable staff has taken time to make sure that the shelves are well stocked and full of diverse selections, meaning you’ll always find something new or that familiar favorite. Plus you can bring in your own food, like hot chicken from Bolton’s located just across the road. —John Holl
Old Devil Moon, San Francisco
A New Orleans–inspired bar that casts a spell with California craft beers.
What it is: Old Devil Moon is a cozy neighborhood bar with a New Orleans vibe. The entryway features a shrine to the occult (think decapitated dolls and tarot cards), but overall the space is inviting, with an expansive bar, several dimly lit booths, and a small patio. In another nod to The Big Easy, the food menu carries traditional or special po’ boys, such as fried oysters rockefeller and fried cauliflower muffuletta.
Why it’s great: Never mind the mystical decorations; the real magic is behind the bar. The nineteen beers on draft are carefully selected by the staff, which includes one Advanced Cicerone and two Certified Cicerones. Expect to find a well-rounded list of choices primarily from California breweries such as Almanac Beer Company, Cellarmaker Brewing Company, Modern Times Beer, The Rare Barrel, and Sante Adairius Rustic Ales. Old Devil Moon also stocks a full bar and offers a dozen cocktails, with a focus on rum and whiskey. Save room for the warm griddled bread pudding with Café du Monde coffee anglaise, a sweet, creamy concoction that makes a sinfully good nightcap. —Jon Page
Paddy Long's, Chicago
A neighborhood bar that does two things well: beer and bacon.
What it is: A celebration of pork and beer without being gimmicky. First timers are made to feel welcome, locals know they’ll always get a good pint and all the strips they can handle. Perfect for day drinking, nightcaps, and Sunday brunch.
Why it’s great: It brings together the two wonderful B-words and introduces us to nuance and flavors beyond the ordinary. Rotating taps mean there’s always something local and fresh on offer. The menu—including the bomb challenge, a 5-pound bacon wrapped meatloaf—ensures we’ll need to schedule a cardiovascular appointment. Plus, it’s just .1 mile to the El, which is great because after a visit its best to leave the transportation up to someone else. —John Holl