But I also like those small-town bars that invariably beckon me when I'm on a bird hunting adventure. I'm pretty sure I come by it naturally. As a wee tyke back in central Nebraska, I can remember my dad and I (and later, my kid brother) stopping at the Beer Barrel Bar in St. Libory (shown above) after a morning of pheasant hunting. We'd order charburgers, dad'd get a draft beer and I'd get a cherry coke, and we'd watch the Cornhuskers pummel the living shit out of some hapless Big Eight opponent.
My, how little things change. To me, there's nothing better than finding a local watering hole for a cold beer or two after a hot (or bracingly cold) yet rewarding day afield.
In small town America, you're almost universally welcome in bars -- the folks are friendly, the beer is icy, and the tab is almost always embarrassingly cheap. Nearly every establishment is the same -- same as in comfortable and familiar -- but the antithesis of the insipid "entertainment-lifestyle-experience" franchise bullshit that developers and marketers concoct to justify charging $8.00 for a Bud Light.
I am not the only one to comprehend the awesomeness of small town bars, of course. In fact, a couple of gents who are apparently based here in the KC area recently went on a five-day, three-state, 101-bar pub crawl through (mostly) small Midwestern towns. I must admit, I was proud (and maybe a bit embarrassed) that I've probably hit more than 50 percent of them. It's a wonderful directory and plainspoken diary -- one I suspect I may consult this fall. At the very least, I'm looking forward to expanding my own list of mid-American small-town dives.
Check out the full "101 Libations" list here. Do you have any special memories at any of the bars on the Libations list? What other small town dives hold a special spot in your, um, liver? Comment, folks.