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 16 (December 2016/January 2017).
Sabatini’s Beer Bar (Exeter, Pennsylvania)
A bottle shop with a massive -international selection on one side and a beer bar on the other
What it is: Sabatini’s Pizza (pictured at top) is a landmark in northeastern Pennsylvania, and when they set out to open a beer bar across the parking lot, they didn’t back down. After renovating an old supermarket, they created Sabatini’s Beer Bar, which pours twenty-one taps of beers from all over the world and from local breweries. Perusing their bottle list is akin to reading the final Harry Potter book—engrossing and seemingly never-ending. They offer a pared-down menu from the restaurant, and if you want something more than pizza, it’s a short trek across the parking lot.
Why it’s great: An eclectic, super-friendly, and highly knowledgeable staff can help you make a decision. There is literally something for everybody here, and if you don’t find something you like on tap or on the bottle menu (very unlikely), you can walk a few steps into the bottle shop. Roughly 2,000 beers await, and the shop has a chiller that’ll ice your beer to the perfect drinking temperature in six minutes—you can drink another beer while you wait. —Libby Murphy
Hours: 10 a.m.–close, Sunday–Thursday; 10 a.m.–2 a.m., Friday & Saturday
Address: 1925 Wyoming Ave., Exeter, PA
The Grey Lodge Pub (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
An old-man bar for the younger generation
What it is: The Grey Lodge Pub (above) is a 1950s-era bar in a working-class neighborhood far from the city’s hotspots that, thanks to owner Mike “Scoats” Scotese’s early adoption of both craft beer and the Internet, has earned itself a place on some impressive international “best of” lists. Even though the first floor still looks a lot like an Elk’s Club, the vibe itself is as tongue-in-cheek yet unassuming as it can get. The second floor has more tables and is better for family dining. Scoats rotates his twelve taps with mostly local, low-ABV offerings while stocking cans and bottles of out-of-state standards such as Stone’s Arrogant Bastard, Bell’s Two Hearted, and—in keeping with the décor—Miller’s High Life. The food menu is extensive, mixing usual pub fare with additions from Cuba, Puerto Rico, India, Thailand, and more.
Why it’s great: So many days are holidays at The Grey Lodge, which gives Scoats an excuse to pull aged kegs out of the cellar and tell everyone to dress up in costume. Don’t believe us? Visit during celebrations for Groundhog Day, Festivus, Friday the Firkenteenth, or Christmas in July. On a regular afternoon, you can cozy up to regulars such as two of Philly’s top beer writers hiding out for a mellow one and eating the award-winning hand-cut fries or a chimichurri cheesesteak. —Tara Nurin
Hours: 10:00 a.m.–2:00 a.m. daily (bar)
Address: 6235 Frankford Ave., Philadelphia, PA
12 Bones Smokehouse (Asheville, North Carolina)
A community-focused smokehouse with killer barbecue, its own line of sauces, and a to-die-for tap list to boot
What it is: 12 Bones Smokehouse (above) in Asheville, North Carolina’s River Arts District is known as one of the best barbecue joints on the planet (try the rack of ribs with the blueberry chipotle sauce), but rarely is it recognized for its bang-up beer program. Not only does it offer an impressive tap list of local beers, 12 Bones also regularly collaborates with Asheville breweries on festivals, dinner events, and even recipes.
Why it’s great: In 2014, when the Asheville Brewers Alliance asked its twenty-seven members to help smoke 1,000 lb (5.4 kg) of sweet potatoes for the Tater Ridge Scottish Ale that went into Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp Collaboration 12-Pack, 12 Bones pitched in on the smoking. To boot, this craft-beer savvy restaurant published 12 Bones Smokehouse: A Mountain BBQ Cookbook in 2015. It also sells locally and online its famous sauces, including Oatmeal Porter Mustard, which is created with Highland Brewing Company’s Gaelic Ale. —Emily Hutto
Hours: 11 a.m.–4 p.m., Monday–Friday; Closed Saturday & Sunday
Address: 5 Riverside Dr., Asheville, NC
Hours: 11 a.m.–4 p.m., Tuesday–Saturday; Closed Sunday & Monday
Address: 3578 Sweeten Creek Rd., Arden, NC
PHOTOS (from top): DAVE MURPHY; COURTESY JEFF RAZLER/THE GREY LODGE PUB; COURTESY LIZ KOH/12 BONES SMOKEHOUSE