The History of Americantom.com
I grew up in a small town of less than 1000 people. There were a few churches, a post office, gas station, barber shop, store and a bar.
The town taproom was small - literally a bar with stools and just a few spare tables that nobody ever really sat at.
As kids we would ride our bikes around town and wonder what went on inside. In those days nothing in town remained opened late except for the bar. Even then the place would often shut down by midnight but that was still hours after the store closed.
The tavern was not the absolute center of town interaction but it was one of them. For year's the owner raised the town flag every morning and took it down every night. That is definitely something you just don't see very often.
The barkeep ruled the roost in his establishment. He wasn't a big or tough man but you just knew not to cause trouble. Some nights he would grow tired and would silently make his way to the door. It would be swung open and he would stand by it - no words spoken but the patrons knowing it was time to finish their conversations and beverages and get the heck out.
Through much of American history almost every town had a bar just like this one. They were places where young males went to become men. Walking in to buy a first six pack or beer - no longer having to hide in the corners of cornfields drinking liquids swiped from someone's father or grandfather.
Even as a young man I sensed that these classic slivers of Americana were endangered. That my sons may not grow up in a small town with a small town bar.
When I went to college I had to do a sociology project and I chose to look into hometown taprooms and juke joints. My research included having to actually go into bars and evaluate them from a strict checklist that I developed for the project. That was tough duty for a young man.
The project went well and I received an 'A'.
Eventually I moved away and somehow over 100 hand written reviews were lost in the transfer.
After years of barely giving the old project a thought, but continuing to watch many small-town bar vanish, I decided to revive the project. This time it would be purely for fun and wouldn't require me to count neon signs or measure the volume and temperature of beers.
My second generation project was compiled solely as a Word document. Someday I hoped to print the information and give a copy to the historical society.
Then, a friend said she would publish a website if I bought the name and space. So I did.
Her initial website was good but not the vision I had for my future masterpiece. And it was a pain in the butt to email her the reviews and photos and wait for her to post them in her spare time.
So, I taught myself the very basics of setting up a website and began working on the modern incarnation that you see today.
Little did I know that the demise of our small town bars would begin to accelerate rapidly.
Today many factors contribute to the change in the politics of the American taproom:
The sight isn't about drinking. Anyone with half a brain is smart enough to know that excessive drinking causes untold sadness and grief.
It's about socialization and hometown unity and the rugged American individualism that all too often seems to be fading away.
It's one of my many hobbies and is open to anyone who cherishes neighborhood bars and the fun that can be found just by stopping into one for a cold brew and conversation. Although I am not afraid to point out things I feel need improved, I always try to to highlight the positives.
Generally, I do not review chain bars, bars that are an afterthought to bowling alleys or places with a primary role that is something else or private clubs.
There are no ads or sponsors. All the costs to maintain it are paid for out of my pocket. Feel free to contribute - photos, reviews, stories of a bar that meant something to you.
I hope you enjoy this humble project.
America is the greatest nation on Earth and one small reason why is because of the people and places in this 'book'.
My evaluation of a taproom has many criteria - all subjective:
LOCATION & APPEARANCE
Anyone have any other thoughts?