The “Love Handles” department in _Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine® _is devoted to great beer bars. Here are the three beer bars that we explored in Issue 8 (August/September 2015).
Todd English P.U.B. (Las Vegas, Nevada)
You can’t lose at this Vegas gastropub.
WHAT IT IS: Opening in 2010, Todd English P.U.B. (Public Urban Bar) was the first, and is still one of the best, places on the Las Vegas Strip to imbibe top-notch craft beer. With more than fifty taps to accompany the menu formulated by the four-time James Beard Award–winning chef, this place is a jackpot in a sea of macrobrew-only duds.
WHY IT’S GREAT: Be it for a bachelor party, a conference, or a fondness for losing money, millions of visitors find themselves on the Las Vegas Strip every year. Up until a few years ago, a beer geek would be lucky to score a Fat Tire, but places such as Todd English have changed all that. Draft beers are their strong suit, and there are always four cask options available. Regular tap standbys such as St. Bernardus 12, Saison Dupont, and Firestone Walker Double Jack sit side by side with more limited releases such as Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin and J.W. Lees Harvest Ale. Like everything on the Strip, the beers are pricey (about $13 each), but you can score a relative bargain during their two happy hours (3 p.m.–6 p.m. and 10 p.m.–close) when all drafts are half price. And it’s Vegas, so don’t forget you can pop in and take that St. Bernie to go. —Patrick Dawson
Hours: 11 a.m.–close Monday–Friday, 9:30 a.m.–close Saturday & Sunday
Address: 3720 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas, NV
The Bayou (Salt Lake City, Utah)
An unexpected “beervana” offers fantastic beers (bottle-only over 3.2 percent ABW!) in Salt Lake City.
WHAT IT IS: You’d never expect 300+ beers in a state with such strict drinking laws, let alone a beer menu boasting rare—sometimes even exotic—beers that are hard to find in most beer towns. But at The Bayou (pictured at top), if beer geeks can dream it, they’ve probably got it. It’s hardly Salt Lake City’s best-kept secret given its long list of “best of” awards and national media recognitions, but it’s cozy, cloistered ambiance makes you feel as if you’ve spotted a beer-loving unicorn.
WHY IT’S GREAT: Beyond The Bayou’s twenty-seven taps (all 3.2 percent ABW or below) and stellar bottle selection (with rarities such as Pelican Brewery’s Mother of All Storms), this must-hit bar on State Street features a Cajun- and Creole-inspired menu with some seriously unexpected items. The savory alligator cheesecake (yes, it is made with alligator sausage) and gumbolaya (jambalaya smothered in gumbo) are two surprising and creative dishes you’ll never forget. Add weekly live music by local bands to The Bayou’s food and beer offerings for the perfect trifecta of weekend bliss. —Emily Hutto
Hours: 11 a.m.–12 a.m. Monday, 11 a.m.–1 a.m. Tuesday–Friday, 5 p.m.–1 a.m. Saturday, 5 p.m.–12 a.m. Sunday
Address: 645 S. State St., Salt Lake City, UT
The Beer Trappe (Lexington, Kentucky)
This small shop offers great beers and a neighborly vibe.
WHAT IT IS: A bottle shop with more than 500 specialty selections and a small yet highly curated draft lineup, The Beer Trappe is the go-to spot for local beer lovers. Thanks to top ratings and recognition from national and international press, it’s also become a destination for visiting beer geeks in the five years since opening. Beer-related travels with his father inspired Owner Brett Behr to open up shop and also influenced the décor, with elements from British pubs, Belgian beer bars, and California taprooms. The beer selection leans heavily toward American craft, with a healthy representation of Belgian and other imports.
WHY IT’S GREAT: Lexington’s friendly Southern vibe extends to The Beer Trappe. Belly up to the bar and strike up a conversation with a bartender or one of the many regulars, and you’ll instantly feel as if you’re at a bottle share with like-minded friends. The draft selection changes constantly, with thoughtful descriptions for each beer updated on the draft list and website. Recent offerings included North Coast’s 2011 Old Stock Cellar Reserve, Bell’s The Wild One, and Kentucky Old Fashioned Barrel Ale and Our Finest Regards from the gypsy brewers at Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project. Stop by for Beer School on Sundays when, for $10, you can enjoy a themed flight with commentary from a Cicerone-certified bartender. —Tom Wilmes
Hours: 4 p.m.–10 p.m. Monday, 11 a.m.–12 a.m. Tuesday–Saturday, 1 p.m.–10 p.m. Sunday
Address: 811 Euclid Ave., Lexington, KY