Photo: pheaber, Flickr
Smack dab in the middle of the country, nestled up against the Iowa border is the United States' 40th largest city, Omaha, Neb.
Back in the 19th century, Nebraska was home to a number of thriving breweries. But by the 20th century, Omaha's beer culture had stagnated. So in 1996, when Bill Baburek opened the Crescent Moon Ale House, he was a trendsetter.
"At the time, we were probably a little ahead of the curve," said Baburek, before adding, "for this town, not necessarily for the country. But for Omaha, to open up a beer bar without any mainstream domestic on draft was pretty much unheard of."
Not surprisingly, Baburek found inspiration from traveling around the U.S.
"I worked, prior to opening this place, for a large corporation," he recalled. "I had a passion for beer and in my free time when I was on the road I would visit brew pups and beer bars and cultivated some knowledge on what I liked and what I didn't like and filed it away."
His mental filing system must have worked well: The Crescent Moon has been a big success. In fact, the place has expanded three times, adding two additional bars -- a German-themed beer hall called Huber Haus and the Belgian-style tavern, Max & Joe's -- as well as a beer store, BeerTopia, with more than 600 specialty beers for sale. Patrons can drop into three different style pubs without leaving the premises.
Nebraska's brewing scene has once again seen expansion as well.
"There are about 12 breweries and brew pups in the state now," says Baburek, "whereas back in 1996, there were maybe four or five."
Realizing that their success is mutual, his bars go out of their way to support these local breweries: "We have a good working relationship with the Nebraska brewers. I know them all very well, and we support them as much as we can."
Since the late '90s, Omaha has seen other craft-friendly bars pop up, but the Crescent Moon still remains one of the cities top beer destinations.
Here's a list of what's on tap:
Lucky Bucket Lager
- Lucky Bucket Certified Evil
- Spilker Ales Hopluia
- Empyrean Darkside Vanilla Porter
- August Schell's Snowstorm
- Sam Adams Winter Lager
- Avery Old Jubilation Strong Ale
- Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale
- Boulevard Singlewide IPA
- Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat
- Boulevard Dry Stout
- Boulevard Black and Tan
- Boulevard Cream of Wheat
- Boulevard Nutcracker Ale
- Big Sky Moose Drool Brown Ale
- New Belgium Fat Tire Amber Ale
- New Belgium 1554 Belgian Style Black Ale
- New Belgium 2 Below Winter Ale
- Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale
- Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
- Blue Moon Belgian Style White
- Odell's 90 Shilling Amber Ale
- Odell's IPA
- Odell's Isolation Ale
- Odell's Fade to Black Stout
- North Coast Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout
- Ska Modus Hoperandi IPA
- Weyerbacher Winter Ale
- Weyerbacher Hops Infusion IPA
- Great Divide Hercules Double IPA
- Pilsner Urquell
- Woodchuck Draft Hard Cider
- Thomas Kemper Draft Root Beer