So, your flight was delayed, and may be cancelled. You missed your connecting flight and you face hours at the airport waiting for Plan B to play out. What to do?
Given that so many travelers feel air travel is driving them to drink, why not take this literally and seek out good places at the airport for a colorful cocktail, fine wine or hearty beer?
Beer is the most budget-friendly quaffing option, and airports are increasingly putting the good stuff on offer: toothsome microbrews, unique specialty beers and other fresh-from-the-tap alternatives to watery, character-free, mass-market suds.
The need to drown your sorrows has combined with the trend of airport concessions offering better beers to prompt UK-based Cheapflights.com to develop a “Beer Lover’s Airport Guide" to 15 U.S. airports. Beer bloggers and others are compiling airport lists, too.
“More airports are transforming themselves into places that travelers enjoy," said Carl Schwartz, a Cheapflights.com executive. “The addition of specialty brews to their beverage lineups is helping to decrease stress levels while providing unique enjoyment at the same time."
Given the turbulence in aviation, and the scary state of the economy, we have to hope so.
Jerome Greer Chandler, of Cheapflights.com, singles out Portland, Oregon’s airport for its Laurelwood Brewing Co. outposts — both are located post-security — in concourses A and E. Laurelwood’s Organic Tree-Hugger Porter is “robust and dark, with a chocolate malt ambience and a dry, roasty finish."
Chandler favors another exemplar of American micro-brewing in the Denver International airport. This is New Belgium, a brewery that pours its beers in a pub called The Hub in the Mile High Aerodrome in concourse B of the regional jet terminal. “Nicely balanced" Fat Tire Amber Ale is showcased there.
On the West Coast, I am partial to Anchor Brewing Co. in terminal 3 at San Francisco International, an airport I often use for long-hauls to Asia and Europe. Anchor brings in beer from its nearby brewery in San Francisco, and its signature Anchor Steam Beer is first-rate: amber-colored, hoppy, creamy-topped and intensely flavorful. The Anchor pub is found post-security at gate 70.
Pre-security at SFO offers other good options. Firewood Cafes has several locations; the Firewood eatery in the main hall of the international terminal has a number of the better commercial brews.
Overseas, Frankfurt — an airport that can put anyone in their cups, with its dismal low ceilings, dim lights and constant renovation — has excellent beer. It is, after all, in Germany. Frankfurt’s terminal 1 has a rooftop biergarten in summer. The far-superior airport in Munich pours refreshing wheat beers and hawks big, salty pretzels at stripped-down, sleek beer stations post-security.
More good places to sip — or chug, depending on how bad the layover is — are featured in the May/June 2008 issue of Draft magazine, which featured the “Airport Guide to Beer Hunting."
One recommendation that sounds like fun: a pint of Minnesota-brewed Surly Bender at the Rock Bottom pub at the intersection of concourses C and D in Minneapolis-St. Paul International.