The Traveler’s Rest– eight unusual pubs you can take the train to.

Nothing makes a train trip more enjoyable than a nice beer along the way–and here’s a personal list of all-time favorites:

 

upright-brewery
 
Upright Brewing, Portland OR
240 N Broadway #2, Portland, OR 97227 (in the basement of the Left Bank Building)
Limited hours– various times Thursday to Sunday only
From the Portland Amtrak Station: walk north from the station over the Broadway Bridge–takes about 15 minutes.

It’s easy to find this brewery that specializes in making sour beers–just follow your nose, which will lead you into the ponderous dungeon of an otherwise nondescript office building. There is no food service here, so pick up some carry-out on your way over. The ambiance is cave-like, and the visitors drink slowly with quiet reverence.  They have a self-service turntable and boxes of LPs to choose on, and on certain days, local musicians perform.

 

maproom
 
The Map Room Bar, Chicago
1949 North Hoyne Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647
From the Chicago Amtrak Station: take the blue line to Western-O’Hare. Walk north on Western, and make a right on Armitage.

If you come by in the afternoon, the first thing you’ll notice is that very few of the patrons are women. This is one of the most intensely beer-geeky bars in US, and it can be eerily quiet, even when it’s full of people–that grinding noise you hear is 20 patrons chewing on pretzel sticks. The bottle list is a mile long. There’s limited food, but you’ll pass places as you walk.

 

brupubbruhaha
 
Brewpub Bruhaha, Montreal
5860 De Lorimier, Montreal, PQ
From Gare Centrale: Ride the metro Rosemont, then take the 197 eastbound bus to De Lorimier

This is a neighborhood brewpub (though the brew system is off-premises), with more than a dozen carefully-chosen taps featuring other Montreal micro- and nano-brews. Montreal is a city of particularly soft water, which under skillful hands, turns into exquisite beer and bread–and this is a great spot to check out the small-time brewers and their ambitious batches. The place has some of the most astounding pub-grub you’ll find anywhere, including fried duck-legs and Alsatian pizza. Unless you speak Quebecois, you might want to pass on comedy night, but you haven’t really visited Canada until you’ve sat in a crowded bar watching the Habs on Hockey Night. English is the second language here, but they treat all beer lovers like family. More info here: http://www.thebrewheads.com/blogs/blog/14742509-az-to-mtl-brouhaha

 

brewersart
 
The Brewers Art, Baltimore
1106 N Charles St, Baltimore
From the Baltimore Amtrak Station: walk south four blocks on Charles St.–takes about 3 minutes.

It’s only a few blocks away from the Baltimore train station, and it tends to be a favorite pit stop when I take the train to Washington, DC. Situated in Georgian row-house in a neighborhood that was fashionable a hundred years ago, this place features a crypt-like basement bar, an elegant though small front bar that overlooks the street, great house-made Belgian-style beers, and a top-flight menu. A few Belgian quads later, you’ll be happy you didn’t drive.

 

radegasthall
 
Radegast Hall, Brooklyn
113 North 3rd Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
From Amtrak Penn Station, NY: Take the C subway to 14th st. then the L train to Bedford Ave. Walk West on Bedford Ave then left on Berry St, it’s four blocks down.

NYC has way too many crappy beer bars (poor food, high prices, small servings, bad atmosphere and excessive pretense will earn you a spot on my bad list pretty quickly), but this place is a shining exception. Everyone I’ve ever taken here has become a fan. It’s a big place, and it gets crowded at night, but is very peaceful in the afternoon when the sun pours in the skylights in the beer hall. Featuring mostly lagers from Eastern Europe and Germany, they have an inexpensive brats and worst plates which makes for a surprisingly thrifty lunch date.

 

harbour_bar
 
The Harbour Bar, Bray (Dublin)
1 Strand Road, Bray, Co. Wicklow, Ireland
From Connolly Station, Dublin: take the Dart (rapid transit line) south to Bray, Walk two blocks north on The Strand.

Eclectic hippy-joint of a pub, with various rooms decorated in 1960s and 1970s living room decor and stuffed to the gills with eccentric chachkies. Vending machines are filled with 30-year-old packs of cigarettes, and team of pub cats will entertain you. James Joyce wrote about this place–it was a hippy-joint even back then. Kitchen is outside of the pub building in a converted shipping container. They have bands at night, but with multiple rooms, you can always get away from it if it’s not your speed. Beer selection features local micros and not-so micros.

 

dba
 
DBA, New Orleans
618 Frenchmen Street (Marigny District)
From Amtrak, New Orleans: walk out the front of the Amtrak station–keep going to you get to Camp street. Left on Camp, and then on to Chartres St. Left on Frenchmen Street–its a half-block in. (This is a 40 minute walk. You get to walk through the central business district and the French Quarter on your way, which is great–it’s fun to visit, but you wouldn’t want to have a beer there.)

DBA is probably the first bar in New Orleans to serve craft beer, and is noteworthy for it’s lack of televisions (there’s only one small one in the corner, and it’s usually turned off) and being smoke-free. The Marigny District is kind of the Brooklyn of New Orleans, with a lot of chill, transplanted young’uns living nearby. They have bands at night, and a rousing swing-dancing session on Sunday nights, however the pub has two rooms, so you can duck away from it for a more quiet time. Two snugs situated at either side of the front door provide great opportunities for chatting with your beer buds, and are an exquisite aerie for checking out the fascinating nightlife.

 

trembling
 
House of Trembling Madness, York, UK
48 Stonegate York YO1 8AS
From the York station: make a left turn as you leave the station, walk across the Lendal Bridge and the road continues as Museum St. Go Right on Blake St, and then left on Stonegate. Place is in the middle of the block on the left.

York is to England what Williamsburg, Virginia is to the US– a historically significant, though somewhat adaptively and anachronistically re-interpreted vacation destination, meant to be enjoyed and not taken too seriously. (Not to mention–York is home to the national train museum, one of the best in the world.) Renowned for their devotion to serving Belgian beer, the 500-year-old main bar is upstairs, and many people miss it. Deal-prone visitors can purchase a bottle of wine in the carry-out shop and walk it upstairs. You’ll find private and community tables, and taxidermy trophy heads stare down at you as you sip. In addition, they also have two guest rooms that can be rented for those who need one more day of trains and museums. York has an astounding number of places to have a pint, and is a frequent destination for English pub crawlers.

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