When the Mikkeller Bar in San Francisco first opened on the edge of the Tenderloin in 2013, it instantly became a marker of the West Coast’s dominance in global craft beer. As the first U.S. beer bar owned by famed Danish brewer Mikkel Borg Bjergsø, it featured 40 gleaming taps of incredibly rare beer from the best breweries in the world, including small European breweries and Bjergsø’s own globally recognized brand, Mikkeller.

In the last year, Bjergsø has quadrupled down on his West Coast love, opening a bottle shop and taproom in Oakland, his first full-time permanent brewery in San Diego and — as of Valentine’s Day weekend — the country’s second Mikkeller bar, in a sprawling, 7,600-square-foot former Discount Tire Center warehouse in downtown Los Angeles.

Stripped down to its wooden bones and minimally decorated with dim lighting and wall paintings of Philadelphia-based artist Keith Shore’s quirky bottle-label cartoons, Mikkeller DTLA feels more like an oversized wine bar than a thundering beer hall. A Scandinavian-tinted food menu (smørrebrød, house-made sausages, build-your-own cheese and charcuterie plates) from former Spring chef de cuisine Enrique Cuevas only adds to the low-key appeal.

Beer and a cheese plate; Credit: Sarah Bennett

Beer and a cheese plate; Credit: Sarah Bennett

With seating for about 150 and standing room for dozens more, Mikkeller DTLA is not only the largest of Mikkeller’s 20-plus watering holes around the world, it’s also the first to prominently feature a wide range of fresh Mikkeller beers, the majority of which are being made a few hours’ drive south.

Of Mikkeler DTLA’s 52 taps (also a record among Mikkeller bars), nearly 20 on opening day were flowing with Mikkeller SD beers unavailable anywhere else in L.A., including winelike barrel-aged experiments, small-batch SoCal-style IPAs and a San Diego–ified take on Mikkeller’s formerly European-brewed oatmeal coffee stout, Beer Geek Breakfast, made with beans from local roaster Dark Horse.

Staying true to its reputation of finding some of the most interesting beers from around the world, the remainder of the tap list was rounded out with funky Brett-fermented beers, fruited Belgian-style saisons and bright, bitter beers made with multiple uncommon hops. Except this time, it didn’t have to reach too far outside of Los Angeles to find them.
L.A. breweries such as Mumford, Highland Park, Beachwood and Brouwerij West are well represented, as are Orange County’s most notable names, like the Bruery, Noble Ale Works and more. A small bottle list provides more European options, including hard-to-find sour beers from De Proef, Drie Fonteinen, Cantillon and Hanssens.

Everything comes served in custom wine glasses except the cocktails, many of which are made with vodka and whiskeys from Mikkeller’s limited-run spirits label.

Next door to Mikkeller DTLA lies another first for the brewery: a coffee shop. Kaffebaren is a third-wave coffee house with simple drink options — demitasse espresso from a brand-new La Marzocco, multiple cold brews, kombucha and green tea on tap — plus Bread Lounge pastries and a forthcoming food menu of Danish panini and salads. Kaffebaren holds morning and afternoon hours (7 a.m. to 3 p.m.), while the main bar and restaurant opens 5 p.m. through midnight Sunday through Wednesday and 5 p.m. through 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. Expect lunch hours to launch soon.

330 W. Olympic Blvd., downtown. (213) 596-9005, mikkellerbar.com/la.

Credit: Sarah Bennett

Credit: Sarah Bennett

LA Weekly