Choose from an impressive selection of suds at this Chinatown beer bar (bonus: happy hour goes until 9pm).
Melody Lounge seems to tick every box on our craft beer bar checklist. The Chinatown dive is a beer geek retreat, with just the kind of off-the-beaten-path location and bland exterior to keep outsiders away. What those reluctant to venture inside don’t know is that this red-hued windowless space—as tight as its patrons’ jeans—is home to one of the most impressive selection of suds in town. Don’t let the mood lighting and blaring vinyl make you think otherwise: this is a bar for serious beer people, with two dozen rotating local brews on tap and refrigerated cases chock-full of obscure bottles covering all the bases, from wild American sours to caramely Belgians. Imbibers could spend hours sipping 10-percenters out of tulip glasses, but at some point they're going to get hungry. Good thing there’s no shortage of restaurants nearby to feed those late-night cravings.
Good for: A chill spot to talk beer. This place is a veritable treasure trove of affordable (we’re talking $6 on average) specialty suds. Newbies should stick to the chalkboard tap list of options from local breweries like Eagle Rock, Angel City and Hangar 24, seeking counsel in the wise bartender for guidance. Bottles are the way to go for veterans. There’s no menu for the 100 or so they keep in the fridges off to the side, but given the volume, they probably have what you want.
The scene: Beneath the canopy of glowing paper lanterns you’ll find an eclectic crowd kicking back with glasses filled to the brim. The bar is walking distance to Dodger Stadium, so Melody Lounge's regulars range from pre-gaming baseball fans to neighborhood denizens. DJs spin quirky jams so loud it’s difficult to maintain a conversation, so folks tend to keep to their beers and just sip on.
Drink this: It’s best to start the evening with a California craft beer on tap. You can always count on the latest releases from Firestone Walker, Sierra Nevada and Stone, with a few surprises like a hop-bomb called Breaking Bud ($9) from Northern California’s Knee Deep or a sweeter, whiskey barrel-aged Vanilla Porter ($6) from Colorado native, Breckenridge. It’s all about seasonality at Melody Lounge, with gems like New Belgium’s Pumpkick ($6), Sierra Nevada’s Oktoberfest Lager ($6) and Karl Strauss’ Peanut Butter Cup Porter ($9) on draft during our mid-October visit. As for bottles, the gal behind the stick was spot-on when she recommended the delicious dark sour ale Tart Noir ($13) from Eagle Rock. Crisp, funky and unabashedly tart—this brew is not for the faint of heart.
Our tip: It’s worth spending a little bit more for the bottles, especially if you’re visiting with at least one other person. That way, you and your drinking mates can really enjoy a variety of quality beer that doesn’t come around often. By the way, Melody Lounge has a happy hour that goes until 9pm.