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North Idaho's Best Beer Bar, Best All-Around Bar & Best Trivia

The Crown & Thistle

click to enlarge North Idaho's Best Beer Bar, Best All-Around Bar & Best Trivia
Erick Doxey photo
Serious about Guinness: Crown & Thistle isn't your typical beer bar.

St. Patrick's Day will have come and gone by the time readers discover that The Crown & Thistle won the Inlander readers' poll for best beer bar in North Idaho. Not to worry, though. Guinness is always on tap at this British-inspired Coeur d'Alene pub.

"We are pretty obsessive about our Guinness," says Jennifer Drake, who opened Crown & Thistle in 2020 with husband Ben Drake.

Also always on tap: Harp and Smithwick's, two similarly venerable Irish brews. And while you can get a batch of bangers or crispy fish and chips at Crown & Thistle to go with your beer, you're out of luck if you're hankering for a Miller Lite.

"I really wanted to bring in a lot of Old World beers," Drake says of the pub's 14-tap offering. "I mean, beers that are actually brewed in England, Scotland, Ireland, Belgium, Germany, all of these amazing beers that — some of these beers have been brewed the way same way for 1,000 years."

The Crown & Thistle has also been working with local breweries, like Kellogg-based Radio Brewing, to develop cask ales — smaller-batch brews, typically unfiltered and allowed to finish in the cask. Coeur d'Alene's Chalice Brewing literally walks its casks, called firkins, over to Crown & Thistle, Drake says. From there, they'll hook it up to the beer engine, which pumps the beer up from the cellar and into your empty mug.

"Beer does not get more fresh than that," Drake says.

This isn't the first win for the Coeur d'Alene pub; Inlander readers also voted it as North Idaho's best new restaurant in 2020. But the couple is especially buzzed about this year's win for best North Idaho beer bar.

"I love that people are paying attention to [our beer] because when we first opened, we said, 'We're a pub.'" Their focus has been and continues to be the beer, she adds. "We're a drinking establishment that serves food."

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