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Barrel Down (CLOSED)

Bars, Beer bars Downtown Financial District
3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

Pop inside Barrel Down for a beer, where you can choose from an impressive 40 taps. Just be prepared to yell out your order over the cranked-up music.

If you’re into American craft microbrews, then Downtown’s Barrel Down could be just the bar you’ve been waiting for. Depending on your degree of curmudgeonry, it could also be the complete opposite. Touted as “An American Beer Hall,” it’s exactly that: an impressive 40-tap salute to our unofficial national beverage packed into an industrial chic façade that would make our beer-swilling forefathers sigh in despair. The design isn't bad; it’s just not terribly original, sporting the kind of familiar exposed brick/Edison bulb interior that’s become interchangeable throughout so many bars in LA.

Beer-wise, this place is a potable candy shop, offering a diverse and thorough range of top-tier brews from around the country. With a daily draft selection that’s 20 taps deep and an additional rotating beer list that changes every few days, there is undoubtedly something here for everyone. The food, which comes courtesy of chef Derrick de Jesus (formerly of Alma, Allumette and Union) looks equally enticing. That said, the difference between a great bar and a decent bar, in this case, comes down to atmosphere. For the casual connoisseur, one of the greatest pleasures of the beer-drinking experience comes from the ability to share it with friends, and at Barrel Down, the volume of the music made it difficult to do so. Not that we’re above getting rowdy, but we’d like to at least have the freedom to converse. And isn’t freedom what America’s all about?


Good for: Drinking your way through America’s finest. Come after work for a beer and a bite or make Barrel Down the second stop on your DTLA bar crawl—perhaps after warming up at Seven Grand next door. There are two TVs behind the bar for those who want to watch the game, cozy booths for dining, and a loungey partitioned seating area for groups and more intimate affairs.

The scene: The clientele is an energetic, youthful crowd of millennials who either work or play Downtown and seem to possess the unique ability to converse over loud music. The music is loud, but at least it’s pretty good—an upbeat mix of indie rock and pop that keeps the mood lively. If you’re keen for a mellow night out, though, you won’t find it here.

Drink this: Beer is really the driving force here. Barrel Down does offer a small selection of “specialty” cocktails, but their lackluster flavor conveys that they’re clearly not getting the kind of love and attention they would at a more cocktail-forward establishment. Best stick to the suds. We opted for the Ballast Point Grunion ($8) and the Alpine Hoppy Birthday ($9), both American pale ales; the earthy Monkish Crux ($7); and the dessert-like Belching Beaver Peanut Butter Milk Stout ($9), which tasted like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup and made for an excellent night cap.

If you’re on a budget (or just have a sentimental side for bottom shelf brewskis), “Dad’s Fridge” offers $4 cans of PBR, Olympia and Miller High Life. You know, the stuff you’d find in your pop’s garage before he called it a man cave.

Our tip: For those with a next-level beer obsession (i.e. that vat of wheat beer fermenting in your closet), Barrel Down is home to the Downtown Los Angeles Homebrewers Club, where you can talk yeast and hops with fellow brew nerds Dylan Snyder and Steven Zakarian of Beertender LA.

By: Merin McDonald



Address: 525 W 7th St
Los Angeles
Opening hours: Mon-Wed 4pm-1am; Thu-Sat 4pm-2am; Sun 4pm-12am
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