The original location of the International Tap House bravely opened in the craft-beer desert of Chesterfield in early 2009, and it worked so well that it scooped this award in last year's "Best of St. Louis" issue. Owners Brad Lobdell and Sean Conroy weren't content, though, and began scouting locations in the city of St. Louis, eventually settling on a big, beautiful old building on South Ninth Street. The Soulard location has something that the Chesterfield branch lacks — oodles of space, which the iTap guys have filled with comfortable (!) seating. Booths, big leather chairs and couches abound, with plenty of space left over so you don't feel like you're sitting in a furniture store rather than a bar. And while all that's great, it's International Tap House's relentless dedication to good beer that truly sets it apart. Both locations serve no food and no mixed drinks, don't permit smoking inside (except on the patio — the Soulard one is huge) and have a passionate, well-trained staff, all of which serves to maximize your beer-drinking experience. At both locations, the beer is either on draft or kept in coolers, and the selection is immense, with more than 40 drafts and hundreds of bottles. The selections rotate quickly, and kegs are marked down if they've hung around too long so something new can claim the handle. They're also not reluctant to bring in rare and esoteric selections. (A keg of Cantillon Iris and all ten of Mikkeller's single-hop series on draft simultaneously were recent highlights.) The two International Tap House locations have established themselves not just as the two best beer bars in St. Louis but as world-class beer destinations.
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