What makes a good beer bar? First, it's selection: a thoughtful draft and bottle list that changes frequently and offers up a good variety of styles and flavor profiles. Second, it's the people: an educated staff that can help you navigate the myriad of choices they present, point you toward the perfect
But, most important, a good beer bar embodies craft culture itself; it's a place that can turn a Bud Light drinker into an official craft hunter or help you appreciate the various local breweries (perhaps even their now in-house brews) while helping to elevate the suds scene here in South Florida.
Here, our list of the best craft beer bars in Broward and Miami-Dade. Cheers!
1547 SW Eighth St., Miami; 786-313-3919; unionbeerstore.com.
If you're hunting whalez, look no further than Union Beer Store, where it's open season all year long. Lucky for you, this isn't just a beer bar and neighborhood taproom where you can find 21 unique brews on draft, all served up alongside a variety of eats. It's also a beer market, where refrigerated cases house a rotating selection of rare and hard-to-find bottles and cans. Look hard and you'll find beers from Cuba alongside random public tastings from the owner's own personal cellar. And last, it's soon to be a growler fill-up bar, allowing you to grab to-go cans with whatever's on tap to enjoy all that Union Beer Store bounty wherever your craft-beer-loving self desires. The rotating tap list changes more often than you can count, a variety that includes beers on nitro, cask ales from a beer engine, and local stuff you won't find anywhere else (J. Wakefield even created the Slammin Bones IPA just for this place.) Thank husband and wife team David and Cici Rodriguez, both longtime supporters of Miami's craft beer scene. David started at Lokal in 2011 and became manager/partner at the Coconut Grove restaurant's Wynwood sibling, Kush, while Cici helped to launch Miami Brew Bus. Together, these two know their brews and share that passion and knowledge with you.
Boxelder Craft Beer Market
2817 NW Second Ave., Miami; 305-942-7769; facebook.com/boxeldermiami.
This Wynwood craft beer bottle shop and bar
2003 N. Miami Ave., Miami; 305-576-4500; kushwynwood.com.
Think of Wynwood's Kush as the beer-obsessed younger sibling to Coconut Grove-based Lokal. The 3-year-old bar and restaurant is just a little edgier and a touch more into the brews. While both restaurants offer a great selection of craft beer and food, Kush's menu presents a more refined selection of draft and bottled beer, and this is often the location pouring some of the rarer brews. Here, there's going to be a beer style for everyone flowing from the 18 draft lines that include one nitro line and several rotating ones that often feature specialty and limited-release beers from local breweries. Looking for something to pair perfectly with that Frito pie? Ask for the beer bible binder where you'll find a list of options not printed on the main menu, all from owner Matt Kuschner's own personal stash he's been curating over the past several years. If you want even more brews you're guaranteed not to find anywhere else — including Kush itself — try Botanica, a secret beer bar next door open Thursday to Saturday nights after 8 p.m. When the person at the door tells you there will be a wait, put your name down. You'll then be given a baseball card with instructions to go next door to Kush's alter-ego space with — you guessed it — its own self-serve beer selection cooler filled with reserve beers.
608 SW 12th Ave., Fort Lauderdale; 954-358-8333; theriversidemarket.com.
No strangers to the craft beer community, Julian and Lisa Siegel are credited with launching one of South Florida's first craft beer bars, Riverside Market. The restaurant and self-serve beer bar, which expanded to a larger location several years after its founding in 2001, is considered one of the area's most iconic establishments. A wall of glass-front coolers display more than 500 bottles. If you're hungry, you're in luck: Lunch and dinner are served, including Julian's famous smoked kingfish dip and the popular North Fork, a hoagie roll with house-roasted pastrami, turkey, and roast beef with lettuce, tomato, onion, and sweet, mild, and hot peppers.
901 Progresso Drive, Fort Lauderdale; 954-667-9373; laserwolf.bar.
You know what they say at Laser Wolf: "No jerks allowed" (in other words, check your attitude at the door). It's a policy that exists to this day and remains the biggest reason why people continually flock to this hip, dive-like craft beer bar in the heart of Fort Lauderdale for their favorite suds. An ever-changing list of 100 or so bottles and cans and 12 draft picks typically offers up something new daily, with at least one or two selections on tap you won't find anywhere else. The beers are curated by co-owners and brothers Chris and Jordan Bellus, who also plan to open their own brewery later this year. If you want to experience Laser Wolf in all its jerk-free glory, pull up a chair next to one of the 100 official mug club members, loyal patrons who pay an annual fee for access to exclusive tappings and events, and even have their own beer glass (or mug) displayed on the wall behind the bar.