THE BEER BEAT: A neighborhood dive bar for the post-craft beer world?

Samuel Smith Brewery, Tadcaster UK … 2001. 

In my current frame of mind, what makes so many contemporary beer drinking venues unrewarding isn’t bad beer. On the contrary, there’s lots more good beer than ever before.

Rather, it’s feeling like a lab rat, as though you’re part of an ongoing experiment in anxiety escalation — like an arms race, always hoppier, sourer, stronger and plain weirder; the wheel constantly is revolving, and there’s nothing upon which to hang one’s metaphorical chapeau for longer than one keg (a sixth barrel), lest another begin pouring the diametrical opposite.

Granted, a dive bar is something very different.


… By the end of the ’80s, the term “dive” even began appearing in the names of new drinking establishments — a trend that, regrettably, continues to this day. One of the first, Christy’s Dive Bar in Boca Raton, FL, opened in a shopping mall in 1987. “I liked the idea of a casual, come-as-you-are, regular-guy place,” owner Allen Christy told the Boca Raton News.

Of course, it took more than a couple of cult movies and a mall bar in Boca to turn “dive” into a wildly misapplied and overused appellation. The culprits are legion, but I suspect the rise of the internet and the popularity of clickbait articles and a certain Food Network show deserve the lion’s share of blame. In 2006, Food Network aired an intended one-off special featuring a spiky-haired host named Guy Fieri, who invited viewers to join him on a road trip to America’s best diners, drive-ins, and dives. Ten years and 260 episodes later, the frost-tipped huckster has yet to visit a true dive.

However, I contend that “craft” beer needn’t be seen as something that replaces the neighborhood bar as in Chan’s scenario below. I think better beer can be a valued component of precisely this sort of neighborhood bar, one run according to time-honored principles of consistency and predictability: Three fixed taps that don’t rotate, plus a couple that do, and maybe a keg of cider. A few well-chosen cans and bottles. Some light food … and dependable service.

Instead of the bill of fare spinning around like an unceasing Ferris wheel, perhaps a publican might concentrate on the things that always delineated the finest qualities of a neighborhood bar. Merely do it with better beer than before — not RateAdvocate’s top rating, just better. Solid. Reliable.

Let the room stop spinning, and maybe we can have a conversation. Is that so revolutionary?

What Happens When Craft Beer Replaces Your Neighborhood Bar?, by Tristan Chan (PorchDrinking)

 … We need places like Jake’s, Phil’s Place and Cold Crush. We desperately need these safe havens for all cultures, demographics, socioeconomic classes, and identities, that allow these regional melting pots to come together for a beer. We need a place to watch the game over a hot plate of wings without paying LoDo prices, battling for LoDo parking, warding off LoDo personalities. We need funky eclectic murals of Von Miller spanning the length of the building. And while I’ll likely frequent the upcoming RiNo Beer Garden once it opens in 2-3 months (and I’ll probably end up loving it), what we honestly don’t really need right now is another beer bar.