Millions upon millions of people pass through the terminals of America’s busiest airports every year. In the best-case scenario, you’re able to hit bag drop, breeze through security, and get to your gate with enough time to snag a quick glass of the sudsy stuff before you board. Worst case scenario, you end up delayed and need a few pints to pass the time. In either case, knowing where to grab a good beer at the airport is a bit of knowledge we should all be equipped with.
The ten beer joints below are the best places to grab a beer in America’s ten busiest airports. Obviously, some of these spots are in specific terminals and might not fit in your gate-to-gate itinerary, but if you have 30 minutes — or more — to kill in an airport and you’re thirsty for beer, these spots are worth hitting up.
10. Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport — HUBCAP GRILL & BEER YARD
Houston is a massive airport with a shiny, new upgrade — making it a great place to spend a little time. That’s especially true if you want to grab some local eats and brews. Hubcap Grill is an iconic burger joint from the Houston area and worth dropping in even if you’re not into beer. The burgers rock. The beer selection is decent too, with a focus on rotating seasonal taps from big-name local brewers. The can and bottle lists err towards local craft and macro national brews as well.
Which Beer To Try: Saint Arnold Seasonal Tap
Houston’s Saint Arnold is a fantastic local haunt that pulls some serious seasonals. Right now, they’ll be pouring their Oktoberfest. The beer is a malt-forward bready brew with a nice balance of hop in the background, adding a bitter bite to the roasted cereal sweetness.
9. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport — FOUR PEAKS BREWING
Where: T4, A20
Four Peaks Brewing is a mainstay of the Phoenix brewing scene. The brewmasters behind the mash tuns have been creating a wonderful line of local brews since 1994. Their primary line of beers is dialed in — offering a local Arizona feel synched with craft beer’s European roots.
Which Beer To Try: The Raj
This English-style IPA is a masterclass in the nuance a great IPA can have. The hoppiness presents as a floral rush from a sunny wildflower orchard. That’s balanced by a creamy caramel maltiness in the background that smooths the whole sip out.
8. Las Vegas McCarran International Airport — VILLAGE PUB
Where: T3, E14
The Village Pub is a local casual dining chain around the Las Vegas area. Their McCarran Aiport outpost offers a local feel in an airport setting with a big menu and a spot on beer list for local favorites from Ellis Island Casino and Brewery.
Which Beer To Try: Ellis Island Amber
Ellis Island Brewery is consistently ranked among the best breweries in Nevada. Their Amber is a great place to start your journey through their line of beers. The burnt caramel malts are the star of the show with this brew. The hop bitterness is an echo in the background with a slight dankness. It’s light, yet satisfying.
7. San Francisco International Airport — UNION STREET GASTROPUB
Where: T3, Gate 70
San Francisco is a foodie town with a great beer scene. Union Street Gastropub has a straightforward menu with classic pub grub — burgers, fish and chips, salads, etc. Their beer menu, on the other hand, is sprawling and vast. There are 28 taps ranging from West Coast craft masters to international classics. The bottle and can list is equally impressive. This is a great place to spend some time catching up on local (and European) brews you’ve been itching to try.
Which Beer To Try: Almanac Golden Gate Gose
While the European selection is spot on, we suggest keeping it local. Almanac Beer has a keen focus on farm-to-glass brewing with local, sustainable agriculture front-and-center in each brew. Their Golden Gate Gose is a great example of that ethos. The German wheat beer leans into the salty smoothness and fresh coriander feel to create a super refreshing sip of beer.
6. Denver International Airport — GREAT DIVIDE BREWING
Denver’s Great Divide Brewing is an iconic local brewery with a long history in Colorado’s brewing scene. The brewery has been putting out quality local craft since 1994 and remains a must-visit for beer lovers who travel to the Mile High City. Now, luckily, you can sample their best brews when you’re transferring through the airport.
Which Beer To Try: Velvet Yeti Nitro Stout
It’s worth trying the whole line at Great Divide. If you only have time for one beer though, grab a nitro’d Velvet Yeti Stout. The richly roasted caramel of the malts is smoothed into a silken sip with a nice hop backbone that hints at bitterness without overpowering the buttery and chocolate notes.
5. New York John F. Kennedy International Airport — BRKLYN BEER GARDEN
Where: T2, C68
JFK is a huge airport with a lot of dining options peppered throughout several terminals. Generally, beer options can be a little hit-and-miss here. Still, if you’re near terminal two, we highly recommend hitting up BRKLYN Beer Garden to sample a Brooklyn Brewery brew or two.
Which Beer To Try: Brooklyn Sorachi Ace
Brooklyn’s Sorachi Ace is a blend of a Belgian farmhouse ale with Japanese-ideas-by-way-of-Washington-State hops. There’s a clear sense of a malt base here that leans a tad spicy. Then the hops come into play, bringing a citrus burst with notes of wild florals and a little more spice.
4. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport — BREWED
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What a surreal day yesterday! Our little ol’ BREWED just opened a full service restaurant in @dfwairport! How crazy is that?! What an honor to represent local ventures all around the metroplex. It’s a privilege, and we look forward to sharing a little Ft. Worth/Dallas hospitality with guests from all over the world. #fortworth #dreamers #hospitality #dallas #travelers #airportfood #lovethefort
If nothing else, you should hit up Brewed for their all-day biscuits. They do an IPA Sausage Gravy that’s the perfect breakfast accompaniment to a great glass of beer any time of day. And, of course, there are plenty of local brews to choose from to wash down those biscuits and gravy.
Which Beer To Try: Revolver Blood & Honey
There are 12 taps at play at Brewed — ten are local craft from around Texas. While it’d be easy to down a few Shiner Bocks, we’d go a little deeper and sample Revolver’s Blood & Honey. The unfiltered golden ale utilizes spicy wheat, Texas honey, and blood oranges to create a refresher with depth. There’s a maltiness that leans into the fresh honey before the bright orange zest cuts through, creating a long “ahhhh” feeling after every sip.
3. Los Angeles International Airport — ANGEL CITY BREWERY
Where: Terminal 3, 4, & 6 Kiosks
Angel City Brewery is killing the craft scene in L.A. right now. Their Art District brewery is a must-stop if you’re spending some time in the city. If you’re just transferring through LAX, however, you can sample the suds in the airport. There are kiosks popping up in terminals three, four, and six. Keep in mind, these are small kiosks with minimum seating. The beer is served in plastic cups, meaning you can take it back to your gate if you need to.
Which Beer To Try: Angel City Pilsner
There’s a crisp, hop-forward nature to this beer that’s delightfully refreshing. The beer starts off with a malty sweetness that’s cut by the Czech hops with a bitter edge that leans floral and finishes dry.
2. Chicago O’Hare International Airport — GOOSE ISLAND BEER COMPANY
Where: B5, C10, L10A
Goose Island is a mainstay of the local craft brew culture of the Windy City. Luckily, there are a lot of options to try their beers at three terminals throughout the airport. The beer lists contain the mainline of Goose Island classics with rotating taps devoted to seasonal brews. Then there’s the bottle list which includes some serious classics — don’t sleep on their Bourbon County stouts.
Which Beer To Try: Matilda
Goose Island’s Matilda is a wild farmhouse Belgian wheat ale that slaps. The wild yeasts and wheat malts bring a ray of sunshine into the glass with a spicy edge that leans towards cloves and allspice. There’s a fruity nature at play with a dried plum feel that leads to a crisp and dry finish.
1. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport — SWEETWATER LAST CAST BAR & GRILL
SweetWater is a classic Atlanta brewery that’s worth heading into town for if you have a long layover. If you’re on a short layover or just waiting to fly, seeking out their Last Cast Bar in terminal B is a must. While the beer selection focuses on the brewery’s core line, they keep plenty of taps open for seasonal rotations.
Which Beer To Try: 420 Extra Pale Ale
SweetWater’s 420 Extra Pale Ale is a classic craft beer. The West Coast pale is dry-hopped, adding a dank pine resin burst of aroma and flavor. The flowery nature of this one is underpinned by a malt that accentuates those dank notes with a hint of bready sweetness. It’s balanced and very quaffable — even in an airport setting.