In September, Draft Magazine published a list of the 150 Best Beer Bars of 2010. They “scoured the country from Alaska to Hawaii and Portland, Maine to Portland, Ore., to find the bars where you’re guaranteed to sip unmatched suds.” For St. Louis, they picked McGurk’s Irish Pub and Garden.
This is, if not a completely wrong choice, at the very least an odd one. McGurk’s is definitely a good bar/pub/restaurant. I’ve had great food there and have enjoyed a beer by the fire in their “garden”. But the fact that they have an amazing patio, good Irish pub food and a substantial client base, notwithstanding, I don’t think anyone in St. Louis would call this a “Beer Bar.”
From the article:
JOHN D. MCGURK’S IRISH PUB & GARDEN
Irish imports don’t come strictly in the form of beer at this 31-year-old pub; McGurk’s also brings in the Emerald Isle’s musicians to play its stage seven nights a week. Pouring 80 beers in all, the beer list predictably pours Guinness and Belhaven Wee Heavy, but rounds out with offerings from Schlafly and Odell. Sample the house beer, McGurk’s Irish Ale, in the 8,000-square-foot garden with the pub’s legendary fish and chips, or a bowl of Mrs. McAteer’s Potato Soup. 1200 Russell Blvd., mcgurks.com
In my estimation, a “beer bar” should be a bar with the philosophy of “furthering the culture of craft beer” at the forefront of its business, not just a place you can get a good beer. Anyone can stock an Imperial Stout but it takes true guts to be a bar in STL that stocks an Imperial Stout and which doesn’t even sell Bud Light.
Here are some “Beer Bars” in St. Louis getting it right:
iTap is by far the front runner in the STL Beer Bar scene. They have two locations (Chesterfield and Soulard), nearly 500 beers available (40 or so on an ever-changing tap) and a multitude of special events that bring craft beer to the masses. If you haven’t experienced iTap, change this fact now.
Cicero’s has 53 beers on tap. 153 in bottles. And have been around for 30 years. Their Beer School aims to educate its students on the “many varieties, flavors, and intricate ways of the brewer’s craft.” Plus it’s free (the school–not the beer).
A relative newcomer to the scene, Bridge serves up 250+ beers with 55 of those on tap. Bridge holds quarterly beer dinners that serves the foodies and beer geeks alike with great beer and great food.
Stable almost doesn’t fit into the category of beer bars in that they are also a microbrewery (Amalgamated Brewing). However, their guest taps are plenty and are ALWAYS great. Stable doesn’t merely carry other brewers’s beers to fill some hole that the brewery itself is unable to fill (e.g. Paulaner Oktoberfest around Oktoberfest time). Instead, they seem to be saying, “Here are our beers to sample. But please have some of these fantastic beers as well.”
33 Wine Shop and Tasting Bar
Don’t let the name fool you, this is a Beer Bar. Located in a nondescript building –with no sign– in Lafayette Square, 33 Wine has an extremely impressive beer list. The back patio, which connects to Bailey’s Chocolate Bar, lends itself to drinking and general merriment.