I WENT TO AN ALEHOUSE THAT I USED TO FREQUENT

This week the Aleheads tackle that most omnipresent of conundrums: What is the finest venue for tom-sudsery, sophisticated quaffing, and, of course, plain ol’ American boozing in all the live long land?  Or, more specifically, your land.  We’ll poll our reader(s) daily on major cities across the U.S. of A, tally up the results at week’s end, and announce a winner.  Let the results reflect a venue that a young Max Dupain might have visited for a fleeting taste of his Australian home…  A place that might have appeared amongst the pages of Papa’s prose…  A temple of gustatory excess where furry hobbits might have sung of green dragons… An Alehead alma mater.  Let the great debate commence!

Spoiler alert!  It’s The Hopleaf in Chicago, Illinois, but we’ll let you have your fun nevertheless.

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11 comments

  1. Tough call…I have no qualms about the Hopleaf. Love that place. I would also put the Brickskeller in DC (my old favorite haunt and the hands-down winner for longest beer list in the US), The Publick House in Brookline, Monk’s Cafe in Philly, J. Clyde’s down here in ‘Bama, and the Moan and Dove in Amherst (although it’s been years since I was there). And Sunset in Allston for sentimental reasons, of course.

  2. All great choices, especially Bricksekller. I’d also add Blind Tiger in NYC, but I’ll leave the NY list up to you and Magnus.

    If you want to go international, I think we’ll all agree that “t’ Brugge Beertje” in Brugges, Belgium is one of the greatest beer bars in all the world.

  3. Sudsy von Brue · · Reply

    Look for New York (and Blind Tiger) in tomorrow’s poll.

  4. t’ Brugs Beertje is just ridiculous. Especially since it’s right next door to a Jenever bar that has 30 flavors available. Pamplemousse Jenever followed by a “fresh from the source” De Dolle Export Stout? Yes, please.

  5. Abba's Brew · · Reply

    The Brickstore Pub has a good argument for having the best beer selection in Atlanta. With an ever-evolving list hovering around the large figure of 200 bottles and dozens of draughts, everyone gulps down pints ranging from hometown favorites like Sweetwater to some of the most obscure German high gravitys. Be sure to sneak upstairs to the low-ceilinged Belgian bar, where the hop and barley lover will be treated to Belgium’s finest served by oft-bearded dudes who truly know their brew.

    Check out thier current selection on Draft: http://www.brickstorepub.com/draughtbeer/

  6. I really need to make the 2 hour drive to Atlanta…much better package stores and the Brickstore looks as rock solid as it’s name. I love the new concept of “adding” a Belgian beer bar (they’re doing the same thing at the J. Clyde’s here in B’ham).

    Abba, I assume you’ll hit the Bricks with me? I promise to stay up past 9pm this time…maybe.

  7. Sweeney · · Reply

    Brouwer’s Cafe in Seattle….it’s not an oldie, but it’s a goodie. Extremely large selection of Belgians and has lots of IPAs on tap.

    http://brouwerscafe.blogspot.com/2010/02/5-years-of-brouwers-cafe-10-ipas.html

    Engine House No. 9 in Tacoma….it’s one of older pubs in Tacoma housed in old brick Fire Engine house built 1901, which is pratically the dawn of time on the West Coast. And yes, dear friends, it has a fireman’s pole. It’s home made beers are fresh, if not award-winning and it makes a Pale Ale, which is based on the original recipe for “Tacoma Brew” of Pacific Brewing Company, a pre-prohibition brewery that churned out beers for the good people from 1897 until Washington’s prohibition (4 years earlier than the rest of the U.S.).

  8. Bostonbeerman · · Reply

    The Hop Leaf is excellent, but Toronado blows me away.

  9. I was a little underwhelmed with the Hopleaf – but that could be unfair since most of their list was Belgian, and I tend to not care for most Belgian styles. The draft list on the website was far more expansive than the actual tap list at the bar. J. Clyde will always be my first love. The Brick Store Pub in Atlanta is also a great place.

  10. I really enjoyed the overall ambiance of the Hopleaf. Sharp bartenders, really good food, and a solid tap list. Admittedly, I’m a huge Belgian beer fan, so it was in my wheelhouse, but I can fully understand someone being underwhelmed by the place…particularly after sites like ours build it up so much. J. Clyde is certainly a gem in the relative wasteland that is Birmingham. Agreed about the Brick Store Pub…Abba’s Brew took me there this summer and they had a great selection and a very cool, funky atmosphere. Love the cramped upstairs bar.

  11. Sudsy von Brue · · Reply

    The J. Clyde is certainly a terrific spot. The Baroness, Brother Barley, and I enjoyed a thoroughly sudsy afternoon in the beer garden about a year ago and I was quite impressed with the ambiance and brew list. The Hopleaf will always be very near and dear to my heart, John, because I love Belgian brew, the food is outstanding, and, to me, it just feels like an alehouse as opposed to a pub, beer garden, “beer bistro,” what have you. A few pounds of mussels, fresh bread, world-class beer, and the din of five dozen raucus conversations… For my money, it doesn’t get much better. For an outstanding domestic lineup the next time you’re in Chicago, try The Map Room. They don’t serve food, and it’s packed to the gills, but I’ve enjoyed a beer list more. The Brick Store Pub sounds terrific. Thanks for the tip.

    – The Baron

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