Modern Nomad is a weekly column dedicated to mobile gear, must-see world destinations, tips for life on the road, and traveling better through technology.
Airports have long been a wasteland for beer enthusiasts — where it’s best to keep your wallet wide open and your expectations very, very low. But, nearly two decades after the stateside craft beer explosion, U.S. airports are finally opening their terminals to legitimate beer bars. Here are just five of our favorites:
Bar Symon (Terminal D, Dulles International)
Famed Iron Chef personality and restaurateur Michael Symon expanded his wildly successful Bar Symon into Dulles International early this year. The menu offers a number of upscale comfort food selections, from burgers, to hearty sandwiches and breakfast burritos. But the real standout is the bar’s focus on regional and local craft breweries like the district’s own DC Brau Brewing Company.
New Belgium Hub (Terminal B, Denver International)
Few states are as synonymous with craft beer as Colorado. It’s no surprise that Denver International offers a handful of solid beer bars, like Terminal B’s New Belgium Hub. This airport outpost of one of the state’s most famed microbreweries offers the expected list of sandwiches and appetizers. A number of their staple selections — including their flagship Fat Tire Amber — are all on tap.
Stone Brewing (Terminal 2, San Diego International)
Few microbrewers embody the raw, slightly unhinged West Coast spirit of craft brewing like Stone Brewing. Their one and only airport outpost at San Diego International is a beautifully designed restaurant bar replete with rough metal bar stools, a large, polished stone bar top, and a modern kitchen framed in reclaimed hardwood slats. Their rotating taps represent an expected (and much appreciated) sampling of their world-class beers, including Stone IPA and their entire Arrogant Bastard series.
Rock & Brews (Terminal 5, Los Angeles International)
Look past the over-the-top, Guy Fieri-esque, rock n’ roll decor at Rock & Brews and you’ll find a solid craft beer menu. Their LAX installation features several dozen rotating taps with far more inspired offerings than you’d expect from a micro chain airport restaurant. Select drafts include Kirin Ichiban, Ayinger Brau Weisse, Upheaval IPA, and even a nitro line of Boddington’s.
Jet Rock Bar & Grill (Terminal B, Philadelphia International)
Philadelphia’s Jet Rock Bar & Grill isn’t winning any style points for its cheesy, Hard Rock Cafe-inspired decor. But their list of more than 20 draft microbrews is extensive and varied enough to satisfy the palate of any enthusiast. The tap handles change regularly, but always include several ales, ambers, stouts, and plenty of lagers.