Every year, Draft Magazine compiles a list of America's best beer joints with an emphasis on craft selection. Because Draft excludes chains, brewpubs and breweries, the magazine admittedly notes that only a few new bars make it on the list each year. (Craft Pride was one of those rare rookies in 2014.)
While CultureMap already picked some of our other favorite beer bars last year, we recently stumbled across another list by Aaron Chamberlain we found even more comprehensive.
Chamberlain is the co-editor/co-founder of Austin Beer Guide and author of the Craft Austin blog. Though he claims to be too "tongue-in-cheek" to be a real beer authority, we respectfully disagree. When Chamberlain released his own rankings of Austin's top 100 best beer bars, we pored over the list to find our favorites.
What started out as an off-handed quip on Twitter turned into what Chamberlain jokes is "the most important thing I've ever done." In one afternoon Chamberlain was able to craft a personal listicle of the best places in Austin to grab a beer. Unlike Draft Magazine, Chamberlain included chains, gastro-pubs and breweries on his list.
Unlike Draft's compilation, which does not actually rank the top 100, Chamberlain puts these local bars in order of his favorites. Unsurprisingly, Draught House takes the No. 1 spot, but Craft Pride comes in third behind Wright Bros. Brew and Brew, which Chamberlain says has a better atmosphere.
Among his picks is Crown & Anchor Pub, which comes in at No. 4, followed by Pinthouse Pizza at No. 5. Whip In (No. 6), Billy's on Burnet (No. 7) The ABGB (No. 8), Hopfields (No. 9) and Black Star Co-op (No. 10) round out the top 10.
Chamberlain points out that he did not have a strict rating structure for his list. Instead, he factored in everything from the abundance of local beers on tap to the variety in selection. One factor that did weight heavily was atmosphere, which had a large role in determining the ranks. (Some commenters have already disagreed with his approach, claiming that Chamberlain does not pay enough homage to bars like Brew Exchange that sell rare beers.)
But Chamberlain asserts that his list is less about glorifying craft beers and more about recognizing the best bars in Austin to grab a good beer and have a good time. "I feel like the people who complain are the people who are all about these list things. They go to a bar and drink a super rare beer and go home," says Chamberlain, which is not what Austin's beer scene is about. "If you don't like it, make your own list," he jokes.
Check out Chamberlain's full list of the top 100 best beer bars at Craft Austin.