Releases Annual List of Great American Beer Bars (published by the Brewers Association) today announced the winners of its annual Great American Beer Bars survey.  None is anywhere near Montana, though I guess that depends on where in Montana you may be.  And your definition of near.  When you live in a state where two of its breweries are 640 miles and a 10 hour drive apart,* “near” is a relative concept. But I digress.

The survey is a popularity contest as voted on by’s readers. asked readers to nominate their favorite craft beer bars, receiving more than 5,000 nominations in the process. The choices were narrowed down to the ten most nominated bars in each of five geographic regions. After 37,000 votes were cast, the top three overall and top-three regional vote-getters were chosen as winner.

Predictably, when voting opened on the top ten in each region and again when the winners were announced, craft beer fans’ most popular question was something like “how in the hell did X bar not make the list?”

Well, what do you expect with a straight-up online popularity contest? The results likely receive far more exposure than the nomination and voting process. Plus, craftily avoids calling this a list of the “best” beer bars in the U.S.

Frankly, I cast only one vote because I was only familiar with one beer bar on the entire list: Manito Tap House in Spokane.**  It absolutely deserves to be on a “best beer bar” list.  I would have cast a vote for Novare Res Bier Cafe in Portland, ME, another incredible place to enjoy craft beer, but it did not make the top ten for the Northeast Region.

I have no problem with this list because is upfront about its methodology.  It serves their mission to generate interest in craft beer and is sure to spark a day of debate.  Plus, if nothing else I’ve got more destinations added to my rolling itinerary.

* Homestead Ales in Eureka and Beaver Creek Brewing Co, in Wibaux.  Distance and driving time are approximate.  Your mileage may vary.

** I spent many an hour at Toronado in San Francisco (2nd place in the Pacific Region), but that was too long ago to count.