Time to Step Up, Beer Bars

I dined last night at a Toronto wine bar I frequent called Crush. And while I did eventually have a glass of wine, I first had a couple of draught beers, first a local hefeweizen and then a beautifully crisp pilsner, also locally brewed.

It made me wonder if I would fare as well should I wish to drink a couple of different wines in a beer bar. And I suspect that, in most cases, I would not.

Like many beer aficionados, I often criticize fine dining and other wine-oriented places for their abysmal lack of beer selection, and rightly so, I think. But at the same time, when the shoe is on the other foot, I believe most beer places are equally poor at offering alternatives beyond “animal label” wines and simple cocktails. And you know what they say about what’s good for the goose…

Over the past several months, I’ve visited a number of great cocktail bars, like New York’s PDT and Chicago’s Violet Hour, where the beer lists rival anything at a small, beer-oriented destination, and supped wine at places like Crush and Osteria Via Stato in Chicago where several excellent beers were on offer. And yet even finding out what wines are available remains a challenge in most beer bars, much less getting a properly poured Negroni.

Something to think about.

5 Replies to “Time to Step Up, Beer Bars”

  1. Come visit us in New Mexico (when we get there, of course) and I’ll take you to some brewpubs with really nice wine selections. I think the key is to find people who enjoy buying wine for themselves.

    1. Fair enough, Stan, and I think you’re right about needing someone who appreciates the other drinks. The mystery to me is how someone can enjoy flavours enough to be passionate about one drink — be it beer, wine, spirits or cocktails — and yet pretty much dismiss entire categories of other drinks.

  2. My book research for the Brick Store Pub homage “Love at the Pub” yielded numerous patron and professional comments on Michael Gallagher’s modest yet stellar wine list. Alas, one of many stories not covered. You’ll just have to drink a vino next time you’re in Decatur, Georgia.

  3. I’m a new reader, and like what I see so far. My client (and fave restaurant!) Domaine Hudson in Delaware (2 hrs so. of NYC) just began offering an assortment of craft beers to complement their impressive wine offering. You might say it’s about time, but the owner wanted to get it right. Now we’re all learning a little more about beer-food pairing to make sure the menu isn’t an afterthought, which is our observation at many wine bars or beer pubs. I think you’d like the owner; you share his passion for food + drink. So, if you’re ever in the mid-Atlantic area (NY-DC) again, by all means, stop in!

    1. Welcome to the blog, Nancy. Domaine Hudson sounds like a fine restaurant and now a place to add to any beer traveller’s itinerary. Thanks for the heads-up!

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