Tag Archives: iTap

Draft Magazine Gets it Right

In 2010, Draft Magazine listed McGurk’s as the best beer bar in St. Louis.   For their 2011 list of Best Beer Bars in America, Draft Magazine seems to have beefed up the STL scouts.  Two of the best “beer bars” in St. Louis, iTap and Bridge, finally made it onto the list.  With nearly 700 beers available between them, these two spots are the most obvious choices in St. Louis.

Congrats to both Bridge and iTap for the well deserved recognition!

While most of the beer news in St. Louis has been the amount of new brew pubs opening up, there are still quite a few beer bars to choose from in the area.  My additions to the “Beer Bar” list for St. Louis, would be the same as last year:

The Stable (http://www.thestablestl.com/)– The fine folks at Stable are definitely doing something right.  Their most recent beer event (tapping a cask of Bell’s Hopslam) saw more than 200 people in attendance and a blown cask in 42 minutes.

Cicero’s (http://ciceros-stl.com/)– Cicero’s continues to be a solidly diverse beer bar that offers free beer school on Wednesdays.

33 Wine Bar (http://www.33wine.com/)– Don’t let the “wine bar” in the name fool you, this  is one of the better kept beer secrets in STL.  They have no sign in front of their Lafayette Square location and, honestly, don’t really need one.  Most of their marketing seems to be from word of mouth and Twitter and from the strength of their awesome beer list.

Best “Beer Bar” in St. Louis?

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:

St. Louis
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.