Category Archives: Bars

Barfly’s View: Neighborhood in San Diego, CA

Neighborhood Bar San Diego

Today I arrived in San Diego to cover a (non-beer-related) conference, and the first thing I did was seek out some decent beer bars within walking distance of my hotel. I hit a few duds first, but I eventually found Neighborhood. The bar also serves wine and cocktails, so it’s not really a straight beer bar, per se. But the beers it does serve, on tap and in bottles and cans, are clearly selected with love.

Neighborhood is located in downtown San Diego’s East Village, just east of the city’s Gaslamp Quarter, and it’s a solid beer nerd hangout. It has around 30 draft beers on at any given time and between 30 and 40 bottles. (Neighborhood had Pliny the Elder on tap today, which definitely didn’t hurt.) My bartender was friendly and unpretentious, if a bit stereotypically hipsterish. And she was knowledgeable and helpful when I asked for recommendations. The food is unique, upscale pub grub. And the décor and atmosphere both get thumbs-up from me. (Neighborhood also apparently has a secret “speak easy” called Noble Experiment with an entrance near the restrooms that’s hidden with beer kegs, but I didn’t actually see it.)

If you’re in San Diego’s East Village or Gaslamp Quarter and you’re seeking a unique craft brew, you could definitely do worse than Neighborhood.

UBN

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Where the Beer Goes I Go

Bukowski painting in Bukowski Tavern, Boston

“stay with the beer.

beer is continuous blood.

a continuous lover.”

-Charles Bukowski, Love is a Dog from Hell

UBN

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The Best Beer City in the World

City of Beer - Best Beer Cities

During the past week or so, I’ve seen multiple lists of the best beer cities in the world/United States published on a number of different websites.

Here’s USAToday.com’s list of the best beer cities in the world:

  1. Munich, Germany
  2. Denver, Colorado
  3. Montreal, Quebec
  4. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  5. Dublin, Ireland
  6. Boston, Massachusetts
  7. Portland, Oregon
  8. Brussels, Belgium
  9. Prague, Czech Republic

And one more, from TV show host Zane Lamprey:

  1. Munich, Germany
  2. Brussels, Belgium
  3. Dublin, Ireland
  4. Portland, Oregon
  5. Prague, Czech Republic
  6. Asheville, North Caroline
  7. San Diego, California
  8. Denver, Colorado
  9. Boston, Massachusetts
  10. London, England

Here’s a list of the best U.S. beer cities, from GQ:

  1. Los Angeles, California
  2. Denver, Colorado
  3. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  4. Cleveland, Ohio
  5. San Francisco, California

I’m sure another list of best beer cities (or three) will be released next week.

Of course, we all know the world’s best beer city is wherever I happen to be drinking—or at least I know that. You probably think your city is the best…but what the fuck do you know?

Last week the best beer city in the world was San Jose, Calif., because I was working—and drinking—there. This week it’s Boston, Mass., my home. Next week, San Diego will be the best beer city in the world, because that’s where I’ll be. Huzzah.

Okay, I don’t really think that my presence makes one place a “best beer city.” I’m a giant asshole, but I’m not that big of an asshole. The point of this odd rant is that lists of the “best” anything are highly subjective. Trust me, I know; I’ve written hundreds of these foolish lists during the past years. The fact is, you can get great beer in most major cities nowadays, and most of the best beers you find come from another city than the one you end up drinking them in.

The whole wide world is just one fantastic beer bar anyway. So treat it like one, huh?

UBN

Image via artemkas.com

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Make Good on That Drunk Talk

Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk - Hemingway

“Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.” – Ernest Hemingway

I was following Ernie’s advice when I started this blog. I probably should’ve keep my fuckin’ mouth shut.

UBN

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Barfly’s View: Bison County Bar and Grill in Waltham, MA

Bison County Bar and Grill Waltham MA

Bison County Bar & Grill in Waltham, MA, a Boston suburb that’s about 25 minutes outside of the city, is half barbeque joint, half beer bar. I’m not much of a barbeque guy—I don’t eat beef or pork—so I can’t say too much about the food, but Bison has more than 15 draft beers available at any given time and 50 or so bottles, many of which are local. And (most of) the bartenders are cool and willing (and able) to chat craft beer.

A number of Boston Celtics players have also been known to hangout at Bison, since the team’s practice facility is located in Waltham. (I’ve never seen any of the Celts’ “stars” there, though.) The atmosphere is decent, especially since Waltham is known more for its dingy sports bar than beer bars. I’ve even found a few cans of the extremely elusive Heady Topper IPA, from the Alchemist, at Bison.

UBN

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Barfly’s View: Original Gravity Public House in San Jose, CA

Shortly after I arrived in San Jose this week, I wandered over to the Original Gravity Public House—or the O.G. Pub, as I’ve come to call it. I found the Original Gravity Public House in downtown San Jose via a Google search for “best beer bars in San Diego.” And I’m glad I did; the O.G. Pub is a great beer-nerd hangout.

The bar had more than 20 quality craft beers on tap, a good percentage of which were local, and a small-but-interesting bottle list. I visited two days in a row, and on the second day they had three different beers on tap. Original Gravity Public House opened relatively recently, and the atmosphere could use a little work. But it does have the cool, bar-top glass rinsers I wrote about recently. The bartenders are friendly. It serves delicious sausage from local Bay-Area butchers and gourmet grilled cheese. (I can’t vouch for the cheese sandwiches, but the spicy chicken sausage sandwich I had was fucking awesome.) And it’s the only bar I’ve ever been to that has a beer list in HD on a big-ass flat screen TV.

UBN

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Barfly’s View: Good Karma Vegan Cafe in San Jose, CA

Good Karma Vegan Cafe in San Jose, CA

I’m working in San Jose this week, and one of the first things any self-respecting urban beer nerd does when he/she is out of town is find a reputable beer bar, post haste.

My (wonderful, beautiful and tolerant) girlfriend, who stayed at home in Mass. this week, is always trying to get me to eat at vegan joints in Boston. For the most part, her efforts are for naught; I’m not really a full-on meat eater—I do not dig on swine, nor the bovine—but I love chicken, and I’m definitely not a vegetarian or, gasp, VEGAN, either. My girlfriend definitely is a vegan, which makes for some interesting situations, as you can imagine, especially after we’ve hit a few beer bars.

Anyway, my point: No sooner did I leave Boston today than I ended up in a vegan/vegetarian spot: Downtown San Jose’s Good Karma Vegan Cafe. Good Karma was recommended to me by the bartender at the Original Gravity Public House, which is right across the street from Good Karma in San Jose. (Barfly’s View of the OG Pub House coming soon.)

I’ve only been to Good Karma once, but it was love at first sight—and I’ll be returning before I head home later this week. It’s not really a bar; it’s a café. But its craft beer selection shames many other legitimate beer bars. Whoever is stocking Good Karma’s shelves knows what they’re doing. The café has between 15 and 20 drafts at any given time (Russian River’s Pliny the Elder is frequently on draft) and a packed refrigerator of great, rare brews. If you’re ever in San Jose, and you’re seeking a unique local draft or a hard-to-find bottle, you won’t be disappointed with Good Karma—especially if you’re a vegetarian or a vegan.

UBN

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Barfly’s View: The Gaff on Moody St. in Waltham, MA

The Gaff beer bar in Waltham, MA

The Gaff beer bar on Moody St. in Waltham, Mass., is a diamond in the rough. Waltham is a blue-collar suburb about 25 minutes outside of Boston, and Moody St. is Waltham’s “restaurant row.” Moody St. is packed with mediocre bars and ethnic restaurants, with a few shining exceptions—Solea Restaurant & Tapas Bar and Ponzu, a Japanese/sushi joint, both come to mind.

Moody St. literally has more than 10 bars within a half-mile stretch of road, but as far as beer bars go in Waltham, The Gaff truly stands alone. There’s even a brewery on Moody St., about a quarter mile from the Gaff, Watch City Brewing Co., but it gets no love from this Urban Beer Nerd. (In fact, you suck, Watch City.)

The Gaff has 20 or more beers on tap at any given time, many of which are local brews. And 30 or so bottled beers are also available. For these reasons and more, The Gaff makes my list of best Boston-area beer bars.

UBN

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Barfly’s View: The Publick House in Brookline, MA

The Publick House in Brookline, MA

A couple of weeks ago I posted a Barfly’s View from my favorite Boston-area beer bar, the Publick House in Brookline, Mass.’s Washington Square. In that post, I spotlighted one of my favorite things about the bar: The cool green-marble taps in the Publick House’s Monk’s Cell, where they pour only Belgian beers.

I stopped by the Publick House yesterday for a draft Gueuze Tilquin and some chicken-and-garlic mac and cheese, and I snapped this new Barfly’s View. If you’re ever in the Boston area and you’re looking for a beer-nerd hangout spot, the Publick House’s 36 taps and 100+ bottles will not disappoint, which is why it sits atop my list of the best Boston beer bars.

UBN

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CraftBeer.com Wants Your Vote for Best American Beer Bar

I’m a little disappointed to see that none of my favorite beer bars are listed in CraftBeer.com’s online poll for best American beer bars. I spent quite a bit of time hunting for the best beer bars in Massachusetts, New York and California, and there’s only one bars I’m familiar with on the list that I’d consider to be a great beer bar. That’s Armsby Abbey in Worcester, Mass.

CraftBeer.com Great American Beer Bars

Alas, I admit haven’t been to all of the nation’s best beer bars—I plan to do my best to get to as many possible before my liver quits on me. But I thought I’d give the CraftBeer.com poll some attention. If you, like me, don’t know many of the bars listed here, why not give Armsby Abbey a vote up? It’s a great bar in New England’s second largest city after Boston, and they deserve it. I promise.

Check out the all the bars that were nominated for CraftBeer.com’s great American beer bars and cast your vote here.

UBN

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