Best bars in LA: Best beer bars

From biergartens to brew-pubs, here are LA's best beer bars for local and international craft brews.

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Flight of beers at Wirtshaus

Flight of beers at Wirtshaus Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Cocktails may get all the hype, but craft beer is having a moment. Beer-centric gastropubs, breweries and gartens seem to have popped up overnight, and with summer upon us, these craft brew watering holes have taken over the spotlight. Whether you're seeking an in-your-face local IPA or international sudsifaction, LA's microbrew gems spark the attention of beer lovers and craft beer nerds alike. From dive bars to biergartens, here are the city's best beer bars to check out now.


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BierBeisl

  • Price band: 3/4

Bernhard Mairinger, the chef/owner of BierBeisl has created an Austrian beer lovers' haven in Beverly Hills. Mairinger is a beer lover through and through, and it shows on his beer list, such as Trumer Pils ($8), an unpasteurized, light-bodied German beer with well balanced ripe bitterness and distinct hoppy flavor, and Stiegl Weisse, a cloudy golden brown wheat beer with mild fruity and aromatic flavor character ($10 for a half pint, $14 for full). Homesick Austrians rub elbows with celeb regulars—Babs and Carl Reiner have dropped by—in the cozy, rustic space outfitted in walnut tables and deer antlers. The emphasis here is food pairings: Round out your trip to Austria with schnitzel—go for lunch and try the sampler of pork, veal and turkey ($24)—or housemade wurst.

  1. Beverly Hills
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Little Bear

  • Price band: 2/4

Owner Ryan Sweeney (Verdugo, Surly Goat, Blind Donkey) teamed up with the the folks behind Oinkster and Maximiliano at this Belgian-focused gastropub of industrial chic design with Euro-rustic flair—high ceilings with light wood accents, antique maps, beer bottles and paraphernalia set the backdrop—in DTLA's Arts District. Brunch crowds and the occasional large birthday party commandeer the space on weekends while locals maintain a more mellow weekday vibe. Seventeen beers on tap and 50 bottle selections rotate regularly, with the exception of Maes Pils ($9). Recently, we enjoyed Gnomegang ($8), a Belgian strong pale ale, Oud Beersel Framboise ($8), a traditional Belgian lambic aged with raspberries and Struise St. Amatus 12 ($9), a Belgian Quadrupel with strong caramel and molasses, banana and spice. Go with any of their grilled cheese options to pair—we like the Grilled Cheese (ale-braised) Short Rib ($13) with house-smoked mozzarella, arugula and crispy onions—or the eponymous burger ($15) with truffle oil and Stilton on a brioche bun. In case you were wondering, the bar’s name is an homage to ‘t Brugs Beertje (the Bruges Bear), Sweeney's favorite bar in Belgium.

  1. Downtown
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The Glendale Tap

  • Price band: 2/4

Glendale joins the craft brew scene with this vintage motor–themed bar replete with a seasonal, rotating list of 52 beers on tap/cask, 4 nitro handles and 5 to-go brews by the bottle and can. Wash down bar snacks such as baked empanadas with local brews by the pint ($6) and half pint ($4) such as Golden Road Brewing's It's Not Always Sunny in LA Black IPA with roasted malt and hop aromas, coffee roast and bitter chocolate notes. We also recommend Angel City’s crisp and refreshing Eureka! Wit and Eagle Rock Brewery's hoppy Populist IPA made creamier by the nitro tap. Join the weekend crowd at the bar—conversation steers toward vintage motor sports as Mystery Science Theater 3000 plays over the TVs—or wait your turn for the pool tables (no charge) as the jukebox plays a mix of owner owner Steve Skorupa's favorites from the Deftones and Phantogram to John Coltrane and Cat Stevens.

  1. Glendale
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Golden Road Brewing

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Between Mohawk Bend, Tony's Darts Away and Golden Road Brewing, Tony Yanow and Meg Gill have the craft beer scene covered in this town. And with their private bar, Chloe's—a private beer-drinker’s dream-den open only to members of the brewing industry and for special events—at Golden Road, the duo are making waves among the beer-drinking elite. Inspired by the communal outdoor biergartens of Germany, this Glendale watering hole sees a mixing pot for all of LA's beer lovers indulging in pitchers of beer over ping pong and Jenga. (There are also brewery tours Fridays through Sundays at 2pm and 4:30pm.) The open, airy, noisy, communal beer destination is the epicenter for the canned beer revolution, boasting about 20 canned options that include guest brews from the likes of Oskar Blues, New Belgium and Firestone Walker. There are also more than a dozen beers on tap—six of which are staple GR brews like Point the Way IPA for the hop-crazed beer fanatic (shorter pour $5, taller pour $6), and six or so that are one-off experiments like the newly released Wolf Among Weeds IPA, an 8% ABV with pine and citrusy aromas and a fresh hoppiness from start to finish ($6). There's a full menu of snacks, sandwiches, burgers and salads, and giant Bavarian-style pretzels ($3) to go with any beer, or the light and refreshing quinoa tabouli salad with coriander vinaigrette ($9) for the patrons who would rather drink their carbs than eat them.

  1. Glendale
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Steingarten LA

  • Price band: 2/4

Welcome to your biergarten away from home. After sinking some putts at the Rancho Park Golf Club, head to Steingarten LA to sink some beers. Twenty primarily domestic beers rotate on tap, not to mention the 250 to 300 domestic and international bottle selections. Nurse your picks at the bar, table and communal picnic style seating, or on the lovely garden patio with glassed-in fire pits for a cozy afternoon lunch or late-night date. There’s a full menu of hearty plates such as an array of old country and new country-stlye sausages ($6.50-$7.50), bison chile ($12.50), BLT beef or turkey sliders ($10.50/$9) and grass-fed burgers with pretzel bun options ($1 extra). We like the chef’s choice burger ($14) topped with bacon, smoked mozzarella and housemade mustard. Wash it all down with a "Consecration," a powerful (10% ABV) rare sour from the Russian River Brewing Copmany that’s been aged in Cabernet Sauvignon wine barrels ($18), then pony up the $50 for a 22-ounce bottle of 2011 Fifty Fifty Eclipse which has been aged in Elijah Craig Whiskey Barrels offering up caramel, bourbon, coffee and cocoa complexities. Regulars look forward to Tap Takeover days when a guest brewery or brand takes over the taps (past takeovers have included Ommegang, New Belgian Brewing, Dogfish Head and quite frequently, The Bruery from Orange County).

  1. West LA
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