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For a long time, Los Angeles was an afterthought in California‘s craft beer scene. The San Francisco Bay Area & San Diego have long been beer capitals, but despite being the largest city in the state, the City of Angels had little to contribute. That is all changing with the latest craft beer wave. There is now great craft beer in downtown Los Angeles. Downtown Los Angeles itself is having a renaissance, and part of that regeneration is including some great places to drink.
Downtown LA roughly covers the area east of the 110, north of I-10, south & west of the 101 & west of the Los Angeles River. While this does encompass a large area, much of the craft beer is currently concentrated in two areas: The Arts District & the Financial District/Historic Core. I recently visited DTLA for a work trip, but I had a chance to go a few days early to check out what’s new.
The best breweries in Downtown Los Angeles
Angel City Brewery
Angel City Brewery is also in the Arts District, further north on the edge of Little Tokyo. It’s another massive warehouse space with multiple buildings. There’s a main building, but then there’s also a separate beer hall. The main building has a few more beers available (15 taps vs 12 taps for the beer hall), but other than that, only the atmosphere is different.
The beer hall was a more quiet place for a pint. I spoke with one of the bartenders, who told me that Angel City specializes in doing simple things, but doing them well. You won’t see anything crazy there, but it will be good.
In between the two buildings, there are food trucks & stands in the parking lot. Tacos!
Angel City’s main building is the more lively of the two. There’s a slide, which used to be used for spools of steel suspension wires for the Golden Gate Bridge, but sadly (and also wisely) is now chained off.
It’s a cool, lively space, with games like cornhole, plus art, a large merchandise shop, multiple levels, and another outside patio.
In between Angel City & my next stop, Arts District Brewing was The Pie Hole, a restaurant featuring both savory & sweet pies. While the bars have good food available, I highly recommend stopping in at The Pie Hole to fill your stomach like I did.
Wurstkuche is also across the street, offering German & Belgian beer along with sausages & fries.
Arts District Brewing Company
Appropriately named, as it’s in the Arts District, is Arts District Brewing Company. It’s another massive place that gets busy on a Saturday night. That said, there was plenty of space for everyone. As with many craft beer bars in L.A., there’s a nice outside patio to enjoy.
Arts District is a fun bar with sports on multiple TVs, plus skeeball & pinball. I noted that the first two songs playing when I got in were from Rage Against The Machine & Beck, both L.A.-based acts, but that trend didn’t continue for the rest of the time.
They have 18 of their own taps of craft beer, plus another 5 guest taps. There’s also a full liquor selection available. When you get hungry, you can order wings, burgers, hot dogs, and fries from the attached Fritzi.
Boomtown Brewery was my final stop in the Arts District. It’s another huge warehouse space. Outside, there was a popup serving food.
The bar offers 14 taps of their own beer, plus space for private parties.
Karl Strauss is a San Diego-based brewery, but they have a beer bar in downtown L.A. that also makes their own beer. You’d never expect that the ground floor of an office building would house a huge brewpub, but it does, and it was one of my favorite bars in DTLA.
Karl Strauss offers a massive tap list, featuring 9 core beers. There are also an additional 14 or 15 small-batch beers, some of which are made onsite. The beer prices were fantastic. A flight was just $5.25.
The full food menu has some of the best bar bites I’ve had. The dishes are a slightly different take on typical bar food, but they have clearly put effort into the menu. I had the duck fat pretzel bites & the fried tofu, which was tossed in a fantastic slightly sweet & spicy mustard sauce. Karl Strauss does recommended beer pairings with the food, and they’ll even give you a sample if you’re drinking something else at the moment.
They also have several TVs plus a ton of space ranging from a large bar area to plenty of tables to private rooms. If you work in this area or if you’re staying at a hotel in downtown, Karl Strauss is a great place that you might accidentally walk right past.
The best craft beer bars in Downtown Los Angeles
Buzz Wine Beer Bottle Shop & Bar
If you’re looking for a nice bottle shop in Downtown Los Angeles, look no further than Buzz Wine Beer on Spring Street at 5th Street. They have hundreds of bottles of quality beers & wines available.
There is also a bar inside with 16 taps, though that was closed at 7pm on a Sunday. It was still possible to have any of the bottles opened for consumption in the bar though.
For another option, there is another bottle shop on 7th Street called Weird Beers.
Spring Street Bar
On a weekday, I was looking for a place to watch a soccer match at lunchtime. Spring Street Bar was a perfect spot. The bar has a couple of TVs, which they were happy to tune to the match. Plus there was a nice list of 26 taps, many of them local. I noticed also that they offer all of the beer in flights, which is rare for non-breweries & always appreciated. There’s also a food bar, and you can add a shot for $5.
The food menu isn’t huge, but it’s good stuff. There are sandwiches & pizza, plus meat & cheese plates.
Despite being a Monday afternoon, the bar was busy, but the service was great. It’s the sort of place that other bar staff like to hang out in. In my mind, that tends to be the mark of a good establishment.
More craft beer in downtown Los Angeles
There are a few other places to drink craft beer in downtown Los Angeles that I didn’t make it to. City Tavern had just ceased operations the previous day. Bonaventure is located in the Westin hotel. Iron Triangle is south of the Arts District. Public School looks like another decent option in the Financial District. Golden Road has a bar in the Grand Central Market, which you may or may not want to visit depending on if you consider Golden Road to be craft beer. The market itself is worth visiting for food. If you’re at L.A. Live in the southern part of downtown, there is a Yard House. While it’s a chain, they do have some decent beer if you’re staying at one of the nearby hotels or if you want something before an event at the Staples Center.
One thing that I noticed about the craft beer bars in Downtown Los Angeles is that while they all had great beer, at times the beer itself was secondary. There were more bar games, TVs, and merchandise areas than I typically see elsewhere. That is one benefit of there being plenty of space in L.A., especially in the warehouse areas. You can do a lot more with the space. Given how quickly these craft beer bars have sprung up in downtown over the last few years, it will be interesting to see how many more cool spots are on the way. Do you know of a new place to drink craft beer in downtown Los Angeles? Let me know in the comments!
Do you love craft beer? Check out more of my recommendations for the best craft beer around the world!