The “Love Handles” department in Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine® is devoted to great beer bars. Here are the three beer bars that we explored in Issue 20 (August/September 2017).
Mikkeller Bar DTLA (Los Angeles, California)
This L.A. outpost of international superstar brewer Mikkel Borg Bjergsø’s namesake beer bars reproduces his formula for a great beer destination.
WHAT IT IS: L.A.’s downtown used to be a rundown no-go zone, and one of its most ambitious beer bars used to be a tire shop. Things change, and the now vibrant and bustling downtown L.A. is home to a veritable paradise for beer lovers. Mikkeller Bar DTLA (pictured at top) serves a selection of Mikkeller’s San Diego–brewed offerings alongside hard-to-find imports and plenty of local favorites.
WHY IT’S GREAT: While the tire shop’s sign still rises above the revitalized building, the Mikkeller fingerprints are all over this upscale beer hall. The energetic vibe is infused with the brewer’s trademark irreverence, and the menu is beer- and share-friendly. But the real draw is what’s on draft. Mikkeller Bar offers almost sixty taps of the best beer from around the world, with kegs divided into four different serving temperatures (from a chilly 39°F/4°C for the lagers to a balmy 55°F/13°C for stouts and cask ales). The impressive attention to craft-beer service details does come at a price: Eight-ounce pours of rare, aged, and imported beers can top $15, but you’ll still find pints of IPAs and sessionable styles for less than $8. If you’d rather not contend with the evening crowds, plan a weekend visit for a decadent beer brunch. —John Verive
Hours: 5 p.m.–midnight, Monday–Wednesday; 5 p.m.–2 a.m., Thursday & Friday; 10 a.m.–2 a.m., Saturday; 10 a.m.–midnight, Sunday.
Address: 330 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles, CA
The Sovereign (Georgetown, Washington, D.C.)
A slightly hidden gem in the nation’s capital, tucked away in a back alley in Georgetown but deeply stocked with one of the best selections of Belgian and Belgian-style drafts and bottles in the United States
WHAT IT IS: The Sovereign (above) is a love letter to Belgian cuisine and beer from one of the most creative and beer-centric restaurant groups in the country. The two bars and dining rooms, low lights, intimate spaces, and library of Belgian beers (and American beers in the Belgian tradition) will thrill even the most hardened beer geek. Grab a table, order several shared plates, ogle the bottle cellar behind a wrought-iron gate on the second floor, and enjoy a beer selection not often found outside of Belgium.
WHY IT’S GREAT: The only real competition for The Sovereign in D.C. proper is sister beer restaurant/bar ChurchKey, but any advantage that ChurchKey might extract from its stylistically wider selection is neutralized by The Sovereign’s exquisite depth. The interiors are stunning—classically stylish with a rustic patina—and provide a perfect backdrop for the incredibly thorough menu of Belgian abbey and lambic faves. The beer laws in D.C., which allow a form of legal “bootlegging,” mean that The Sovereign has access to an unparalleled selection, but Beer Director Greg Engert’s reputation in the industry for fastidious care means that brewers jump at the chance to supply him with their best. —Jamie Bogner
Hours: 5 p.m.–1 a.m., Sunday–Thursday; 5 p.m.–2 a.m., Friday & Saturday; Friday lunch 11:30 a.m.–3 p.m.; Weekend brunch 11 a.m.–3 p.m.
Address: 1206 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.
Brouwerij Lane (Brooklyn, New York)
The adult punk’s answer to finding first-rate beers from local, regional, and international producers, and a pleasantly gritty atmosphere to drink them in
WHAT IT IS: What started as a bottle shop and tasting room in 2009 has evolved into a top-tier, unostentatious hangout for Greenpoint’s beer drinkers. Brouwerij Lane (above) is also sister to hyper-local brewery, Greenpoint Beer & Ale Co., and an importer of Germany’s Jever and Gaffel Kolsch, both of which are always on tap. Behind the taps, a versatile bottle/can selection attracts local passersby and discerning beer nerds alike.
WHY IT’S GREAT: Brouwerij Lane’s laid-back, no-BS vibe is rivaled only by its beer selection. The harmoniously curated nineteen drafts and 150+ bottles and cans bring in a lovable cast of lifelong locals, film-industry vets, and eccentric artists and musicians along with Brooklyn’s judicious beer enthusiasts and industry members. A continuous rotation of freshly kegged (and often canned) favorites from walkable breweries, local nomads, and statewide selections pour alongside regional heart throbs such as Hill Farmstead and Tired Hands as well as global options. In the cooler, expect esoteric international treats and a constantly updated stock of local/regional can and bottle releases. An amiable and astute staff is keen on leading you to that beer you didn’t know you’d love. —Cat Wolinski
Hours: 2 p.m.–10 p.m., Monday–Thursday; 12 p.m.–11 p.m., Friday & Saturday; 12 p.m.–10 p.m., Sunday
Address: 78 Greenpoint Ave., Brooklyn, NY
PHOTOS, FROM TOP: JOHN VERIVE, COURTESY NEIGHBORHOOD RESTAURANT GROUP, KIM MERCADO
Craft-beer breweries, brewpubs, and beer bars are expanding all over the United States at a rapid rate, yet who do you trust for accurate and up-to- date information about where to go and what to drink? The Ultimate Beer Guide Western Edition 2017 answers that question with expertly curated reviews, suggestions, and insight from the editors and writers of Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine®. Order your copy today.