Mekong Restaurant Named Best Beer Bar!


HopCat, Cloverleaf Tavern, The J. Clyde and The Birch also winners

While you can get a good craft beer just about anywhere these days, these 10 winners for Best Beer Bar offer so much more. Stellar selections of local, rare and unusual brews, knowledgeable bar staff to help narrow down the choice and a great atmosphere make these beer bars must-visits for any craft beer enthusiast.

  • Max's Taphouse
    Baltimore

    Patrons who enter this nondescript brick bar in Baltimore will be blown away by the beer selection: 1,000+ bottles, 100+ taps and 5 casks. From newbies to experts, all levels of beer drinkers can find something to enjoy here - from standard favorites to rare imports - and all it takes is a quick chat with one of the highly knowledgeable bartenders. Max’s also hosts a range of events including an annual Belgian Beer Fest, Hopfest and Italian Fest. And for cheap thrills, “Big A** Draft Fridays” feature 32-ounce beers in plastic cups for next to nothing.
    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

  • Brick Store Pub
    Decatur, Ga.

    Located in downtown Decatur, Brick Store is a neighborhood magnet for beer lovers. The main bar, which features one of the best selections in the region, maintains a focus on craft beer and imports from England and Germany. Upstairs is the Belgian Room, dedicated to the finest Belgian beers with eight taps and more than 120 bottles. Beers are served in style-specific glassware at just the right temperature. Plus, the TV-free environs keep the focus on the beer.
    Photo courtesy of Leigh Germy

  • Maria's Packaged Goods & Community Bar
    Chicago

    On Chicago’s South Side in the Bridgeport neighborhood, an old neighborhood “slashie” (bar/liquor store) has evolved into a destination craft beer bar under the longtime ownership of Maria Marszewski, for whom the bar is named. Nearly 450 craft beers are available - on tap, in bottles, and in cans. Expertly-curated local art adorns the walls, and a rotating roster of DJs brings an eclectic mix of music almost every night. The liquor store half of Maria’s is equally impressive, with a huge selection of craft beers and artisanal spirits available for purchase.
    Photo courtesy of HANK PEARL / BLACK PEARL PHOTO

  • Thirsty Monk
    Asheville, N.C.

    Asheville’s premier beer bar features 36 taps and more than 140 bottles plus stunning views of the Great Smoky Mountains. The main floor features American craft beers while a lower level is dedicated to Belgians. As The Monk focuses on including unique and rare beers, tasting notes and historical facts about each pour are available for those thirsty for knowledge. Rare releases, exclusive tappings, festivals and other events keep beer enthusiasts flocking to The Monk.
    Photo courtesy of Ryan Stuart Burns

  • The Bier Stein
    Eugene, Ore.

    With 30 rotating taps and more than 1,000 bottles of craft beer from all over the world, Bier Stein in Eugene is a beer enthusiast’s heaven and one of the best craft beer bars in the Pacific Northwest. Cicerone-certified “beer stewards” help patrons make informed decisions, and style-specific glassware adds to the experience. In addition to enjoying a pint in the pub, a huge selection of bottles are available for purchase in the shop.
    Photo courtesy of The Bier Stein

  • The Birch
    Norfolk, Va.

    Housed in a former industrial building in Norfolk, Va., The Birch is clear-minded in its approach to beer. The carefully selected beer list - with 21 on tap - specializes in imported craft beers, ciders and meads. Periodically throughout the year, to encourage patrons to try something new, The Birch hosts week-long mini festivals during which all the taps and the bottle list adhere to one theme, such as dark, bitter or sour. Beer lovers can also enjoy expert beer and cheese pairings, available on Fridays.
    Photo courtesy of The Birch

  • The J. Clyde
    Birmingham, Ala.

    Stone walls and lots of dark wood give J. Clyde the feel of an old English pub. This beer hall kicked off the craft beer scene in Birmingham and now offers more than 70 beers on tap featuring some of the best breweries in the South and around the country. The draft menu is organized by flavor profile, with a helpful style guide to aid the selection process. A sprawling patio and dedicated staff make this spot a big draw for Southern beer lovers.
    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

  • Cloverleaf Tavern
    Caldwell, N.J.

    Founded in 1933, the Cloverleaf Tavern is one of the oldest businesses in Caldwell, N.J. The friendly, bustling pub attracts loyal customers with more than 20 beers on tap and 65 bottles. Many regulars choose to pursue Cloverleaf’s “MBA” - Masters of Beer Appreciation - program in which participants work their way through a representative list of beer styles, from pilsners and ales to weisses, IPAs, and more. Decidedly unstuffy, this tavern is a welcoming place to explore and celebrate beer.
    Photo courtesy of Cloverleaf Tavern

  • HopCat
    Grand Rapids, Mich.

    HopCat - now with eight locations - started in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 2008 andhas garnered heaps of praise and many awards for its selection of great beer from around the world. Some of the best local, regional, and global craft beers are on tap - there are 49 in all - and more than 250 bottles expands the offerings. It could be their famous “crack fries,” but more likely it’s the wide range of beers, passionate bartenders, a fun atmosphere, and a year-round patio that make HopCat a top destination for beer aficionados.
    Photo courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

  • Mekong Restaurant
    Richmond, Va.

    A destination for beer lovers in a Vietnamese restaurant? That’s right - Mekong Restaurant in Richmond, Va. has more than 50 taps and 200 bottles featuring some of the best American craft beers, European imports and an impressive range of styles. The knowledgeable bartenders are keen to assist by recommending specific beer pairings that compliment selections from the extensive menu of authentically flavorful Vietnamese cuisine. Special tappings and tastings draw regular crowds.
    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

The top 10 winners in the category Best Beer Bar are as follows:

  1. Mekong Restaurant - Richmond, Va.
  2. HopCat - Grand Rapids, Mich.
  3. Cloverleaf Tavern - Caldwell, N.J.
  4. The J. Clyde - Birmingham, Ala.
  5. The Birch - Norfolk, Va.
  6. The Bier Stein - Eugene, Ore.
  7. Thirsty Monk - Asheville, N.C.
  8. Maria's Packaged Goods & Community Bar - Chicago
  9. Brick Store Pub - Decatur, Ga.
  10. Max's Taphouse - Baltimore

A panel of experts picked the initial 20 nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote. Experts Julia Herz (Brewers Association), Jack Muldowney (The Hop Review) and Ale Sharpton (AleSharpton.com) were chosen based on their extensive beer knowledge and experience.

Other bars nominated in this category included Blind Tiger Ale House in New York, ChurchKey in Washington, Closed for Business in Charleston, Easy Tiger in Austin, Falling Rock Tap House in Denver, Grand Trunk Pub in Detroit, Local Option in Chicago, The Pine Box in Seattle, The Porter Beer Bar in Atlanta and Toronado in San Francisco.

10Best and USA TODAY extend their congratulations to all the winning beer bars.

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Alert The Experts

Julia Herz

Jack Muldowney

Ale Sharpton