It wasn’t so long ago we were happy to step into any bar that had a selection stretching beyond a handful of identical light lagers. Now, every city in America has at least a handful of craft beer bars that carry dozens of taps – many featuring upwards of 100 beers at a time. The best craft beer bars now rotate their selection, curate theme nights, and forge personal connections with their favorite brewers to ensure that they’re first in line for hot new releases.
But how did the boom begin? A handful of lasting craft bars set the precedent year ago that great modern beer bars have followed. Much like legendary music clubs, beer tourists descend upon them like pilgrims and brewers jockey relentlessly for space on their tap handles. Here are the beer bars that set the pace for the rest of the country.