New Brewery Map

After a bit of a play around with new colours, I’ve landed don this beaut-

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/497619474/alternative-map-of-all-the-breweries-in?ref=shop_home_active_1

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And a bit closer:

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Closer still:

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You can find it here:

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/497619474/alternative-map-of-all-the-breweries-in?ref=shop_home_active_1

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Mapped: The Best Beer Bars in the USA.

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According to some people, these are the best beer bars in the contiguous USA. Granted, I took this list from a 2010 publication of Beer Magazine (I think), so it may be a bit dated, but you can’t manufacture historical whimsy, so at least some of these must still be right. I have only visited those with a blue label, so there’s much to look forward too.

75. Pivovarsky Klub, Prague, Czech Republic

You really have to want to find the Pivovarsky Klub.

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After spending some 30 minutes following a picture of a picture of a bad map, we were committed and had to make the cumulative efforts worthwhile. What didn’t help is an anonymous suburban location, past a run-down underpass.

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The exterior is unappealing grey pebble-dash, but inside you are met with a very modern conversion. This first floor is more bottle shop than bar, and does lack warmth as a result.

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Typical of Prague, downstairs hosts the main room in a cave-like warren. This is a great space with some classy features and thoughtful lighting. However, there is much more of a restaurant feel, where the interior offered ample opportunities to facilitate a great, cosy bar.

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The beers we tried were so-so. The unfiltered pilsner was OK, but once you have tried the incarnation served at 1516 in Vienna, the bar is high. The blueberry beer was a decent desert tipple, but not remarkable.

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The staff we met were great and really had everything under control. We were offered fresh beers before we ran out which made us feel looked-after, rather than pestered.

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Taken outside, waiting for the rain to lessen.

Venue: 4/10

Upstairs is really a (very good) bottle shop. Downstairs is decent, but lacks some charm.

Beer: 5/10

The tap beers were not remarkable, but the large bottle shop upstairs is somewhat redeeming.

Worthy? No.

It’s a good bar, for sure, but the cave theme is an oft used one in Prague, and the top floor is vanilla at best.

Candidate #5- Zero Degrees, Bristol, England

Zero Degrees is a brewpub chain of four: Bristol was the second venue and a local institution in the town I called home for my college years.

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The Bristol venue is the most unique as the location, nestled in amongst the historic Christmas Steps, provided an architectural challenge that was successfully met with stylish innovation. The steeply dipping hills allowed for three terraces and arresting views over the city. Some of the interior is of course reserved for the brewery, where glass walls enable the patrons to keep a discerning eye on the beer-monkeys as they go about their business. The brewery spills out over the bar with great arching pipes, emphasising the industrial chic design.

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Gratuitous shot of Bristol looking lovely. This is no where near the bar.

Although several of the beers have won some very prestigious awards, such as a CAMERA award for the pilsner, the mango beer is the reason people come back, frequently. I’m told it was an experimental guest beer, indeed it is unnamed on the menu, but they struck gold, so that the “Speciality” option is now synonymous with mango, regardless that the blurb explains this beer to be a changing, experimental compliment to the fixed pilsner, wheat and black lager. In five years, this guest has never changed apart from a cranberry Christmas brew. On a summer’s day, this mango beer is probably the best thing you could imbibe.

Venue: 7/10

Architecturally sumptuous, but perhaps a little cold on the inside.

Beer: 6/10

Mango beer. Much, much better than it sounds.

Worthy? Maybe

38. The Wynkoop Brewery, Denver, CO

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The Wynkoop Brewery opened for business in 1988 and became Denver’s first brewpub and craft-brewery. They are pioneers in this brewpub-crazy state (Colorado ranks 4th in craft breweries per capita) and have been getting a lot right since their inception, such as their commitment to the environment and localism.

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Somehow they procured the  J. S. Brown Mercantile Building, built in 1899, and originally home to a mercantile emporium during Denver’s pioneering early days. This building is really quite magnificent and retains a lot of the built-to-last original features such as thick timber pillars and  pressed-tin ceilings. Unfortunately, this expansive former warehouse is a difficult space to renovate as a brewpub and the promise of the exterior is not fulfilled inside.

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The Wynkoop Brewing Company raises the question of “At what size does a ‘craft’ brewery lose its name”? Whilst Wynkoop is far from the Blue Moon and Sierra Nevada scale, their website bangs on about their corporate offerings and their new beer-canning operations. I don’t think they can be thought of as a micro-brewery anymore. Will the quality suffer as their business grows?

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Rocky Mountain oysters are bulls testicles. Just so you know.

Venue: 5/10

The old mercantile building is maintained beautifully and separated cleverly to preserve atmosphere and an affable vibe. The inside is not nearly as remarkable as the exterior though.

Beer: 4/10

A large range for a micro-brewery, which I’m sure I would appreciate if I was local. As a passing guest, I felt that maintaining this breadth was at the expense of individual quality. I was not blown away by their award-winning dark larger (try Flek Thirteen for an excellent example), but they redeemed themselves with the milk stout. The IPA is OK.

Worthy? Just about.

They haven’t got everything right, but they do have that most elusive of qualities: an affable, charming vibe. The staff interact as though they are family.

14. U Fleků, Prague, Czech Republic

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U Fleků is a brilliantly preserved Bohemian experience in the heart of Prague. The first written reference places a brewery on this site since 1499, making this the oldest continuous brewpub in Central Europe.

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If you’ve ever been to Prague, especially if you’ve stood on Charles Bridge, you will have a sense of the strangling number of tourist cloying the streets. It is remarkable U-Fleku-Beersthen, that U Fleků retains such Medieval charm and unspoilt grandeur. There is space inside for a staggering 1,200 patrons siphoned through eight distinct rooms, each with their own character. These range from the chthonic ‘Sausage’ room with arched beamed ceilings, to the resplendent and decadent Academy room which has hosted Czech socialites and celebrities for centuries.

Venue: 10/10

An excellent example of Czech Bohemian grandeur surviving through the ages and coping with the huge summer tourist numbers.

Beer: 8/10

There is literally one beer, the Flek Thirteen; a dark lager whose names derives from its Plato rating of 13 degrees. One could make the perfectly reasonable argument that my rating is far too high for a single-beer bar. To one, I say “Go drink some”.

Worthy? Yes

Legendary.

Candidate #2- Bier Fabriek, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

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Bier Fabriek is a micro-brewery in Amsterdam, currently hidden behind the metro development on the Rokin. This doesn’t keep the numbers down; the weekend demands a reservation. And rightfully so.

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They brew two of their beers on site in the middle of the bar. Size demands that extensions to their range are brewed offsite on their behalf.; this is currently an unfiltered pilsner crafted in collaboration with the family run Brewery Alfa and is bloody splendid. It is quite similar to the “Lager” at 1516, Vienna, if that helps?

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The menu is extensive so long as you want barbecue chicken. Which you should, as it is moreish. And there are great sacks of monkey nuts to snack on and discard their shells all over the floor.

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Venue: 8/10

Industrial-chic isn’t easy to pull off, but De Bierfabriek does it and then some; there are even parts that feel cosy. The service is splendid too, which in Amsterdam is like a virgin behind a window in the Red Light District. There are also monkey nuts everywhere; I don’t think I need to explain why that is brilliant. Some of the tables have their very own taps for you to dispense the beer yourself according to you rwhim.

Beer: 7/10

Only three beers on the menu to choose from, but they are all their own and cover pils, amber-weisse and black. They are good, undoubtedly, but not as fine as the frustratingly micro-brewed offerings at “1516″ in Vienna.

Worthy?

This blog is very young still, so it is hard to opine with conviction. I really enjoy this bar- there is an undefinable quality, a quality that no amount of old beer memorabilia can guarantee. So they have done something right. One of the top 150 in the world though?

108. McMenamins Kennedy School Hotel

The Kennedy School Hotel is a converted elementary school in Portland housing guest rooms, several bars and a movie theatre. The educational theme is quirkily retained; one can drink in the “Detention Room”.

Credit to: ww.darngooddigs.com

Credit to: ww.darngooddigs.com

It is owned by the McMenamins brewpub empire. If I’m going to a pub, I like one with the ‘brew’ prefix. I was naturally hesitant when I found out the size of the McMenamins micro-brewing; fearing for a loss of character and rustic charm. 4785179782_66f3580d6cThat may well be the case to some extent, but it takes the profits of a successful chain to bankroll the renovation of such a unique venue.

Kennedy School Hotel is reviewed quite favourably over on RateBeer; however, these reviews are bolstered by the impressive venue, not the beers. There are some eminently quaffable brews, such as the Hammerhead and the Ruby, but they don’t stand out in the craft brewing scene.

Venue: 9/10

Striking and tasteful. The mezzanine floor is really charming and, despite the size, cosy. A very tasteful and successful conversion.

Beer: 3/10

The brews are really rather good compared to the common swill, but this list deals with the worlds elite, and they struggle for a footing in such company.

Worthy? Yes

There will be few venues as good as the Kennedy School and that alone holds a strong argument for inclusion.