Can you think of anything more draining than traveling? After planning, packing, getting yourself, your bags, and your traveling companions to the airport, waiting in an endless line to check in, doing the security shuffle, and dragging what’s left of yourself to the gate only to discover that you have inevitably been delayed, the first thing you want is a beer to take the edge off.
There was a time when I would have been satisfied with a big old Coors Light. Or, maybe I was going “fancy” and having a Blue Moon. Those days are over. These days, now that my tastes are more refined, I’m finding that the stock options at most airport bars are not up to snuff. However, with the proliferation of craft brewers across the country more and more airports are seeing their local offerings being served up just past the seemingly endless throng of weary travels and the groping hands of TSA agents. Welcome to the new breed of airport craft beer bars!
Not every airport has bars or lounges dedicated to local and craft beers. You’re still going to find Stella Artois, Budweiser, and Shock Top among the better brews. Some airports have dedicated brewery offerings and brewpubs, though. Let’s explore a few of these.
San Diego International Airport – Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens
So, you were in San Diego and you didn’t make it to the actual Stone brewery? Fear not, traveler! Terminal 2 at the San Diego airport now features one of the better craft beer spots for flyers. At nearly 3,000 square feet, the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens is a place that will make you hope that your flight gets delayed. They feature 12 taps (10 Stone beers, and 2 brews from other local brewers) and a full menu of everything from mac ‘n’ cheese to sausage to duck confit hash. On my last trip through San Diego International I was able to try some Enjoy By 5.16.14 IPA and Arrogant Bastard Ale on draft. Some rotating guest taps they have include Ballast Point, Lost Abbey, Pizza Port, and Green Flash. I didn’t know this when I was there, but I was told you can get bombers to-go. Can anyone out there confirm this? Definitely one of the better craft beer bars to check out if you have time to kill.
Cigar City Brewing – Tampa International Airport
Probably best known for their Jai Alai IPA, Tampa’s Cigar City Brewing has an outpost at which you can while away the hours while waiting for your plane to arrive. It’ll be hard to not try everything on the menu. Besides their ubiquitous and unstoppable Jai Alai, they also offer Florida Cracker White Ale, Vanilla Maduro Brown Ale, and an airport only exclusive Tony Jannus Pale Ale, named for the first pilot of commercial flight, based out of – you guessed it – Tampa. Prices are reasonable and when there’s not seating at the bar there are plenty of tables and chairs. Seek this one out and take in the tastes of Florida.
Rogue Ales Public House – Portland International Airport
Portland, Oregon is no slouch city when it comes to craft beer, so it’s good to know that there is an option to have one of the better, more prolific brewers, Rogue Ales, have their own pub in the terminal. Should you find yourself in Concourse D of PDX head over to Rogue Ales Public House and grab a flight of some of their most popular beers. They also do food, but with 12 taps of their great beers and various 22 oz. ceramic bombers to-go, who needs food? They have Bud on tap as well, for the faint of craft beer heart.
Schlafly Beer Bar & Grill – Lambert-St. Louis International Airport
One of my favorite IPAs is Schlafly American IPA. So it’s definitely a treat when I get to fly through STL and stop at Schlafly Beer Bar & Grill. They carry, on tap, a variety of their excellent offerings including the delicious Oatmeal Stout.
Loft – NYC -John F. Kennedy Internation Airport
Okay, this one is a little biased since this is out of my home airport, but this is a heavily trafficked airport and you think that the craft beer game would have been stepped here a bit. Unfortunately there’s not a whole lot to offer in JFK, unless you happen to be flying JetBlue out of Terminal 5. In that case, head down to Loft where you can order craft beer and food off of an iPad. It’s a bit pricey, but you can kill some time trying out beers from New York breweries such Ommegang, Brooklyn, and Sixpoint. The iPad beautifully displays photos of the beer along with little descriptions to help you decide.
As you can see there is a growing number of airports catering to beer loving travelers such as you and I. Do you have a favorite beer bar in your home airport? Leave a comment and let’s discuss!