Craft beer connoisseurs have an intrinsic disdain for the mass-market swill masquerading as beer: Bud, Miller, PBR and that ilk. In an ironic twist, then, the best kept beer bar secret in L.A., Barbara's at the Brewery, is tucked away like an oasis in the center of what once was the PBR brewery, where Main Street meets the 5, just east of downtown. Open since 1999, it's the best thing that ever came from a PBR brewery.
The old brewery complex is now home to the largest artists' colony in the country, with countless studios and biannual art walks. The walls at B's are adorned with the locals' latest photos, paintings, and sculptures. And, yes, this bar is every bit as understated and secluded as one would expect for its anchor position in the colony. But for beer lovers, the best art on the wall is the chalkboard featuring 15 world class craft brews, a menu that shifts according to availability: the true measure of any top beer bar is that every time a keg blows, a new beer by a different brewer appears.
The B's board is always excellent and has even had days - it seems sacrilegious to say it - when it matches Gabe Gordon's benchmark-setting wall at best of the best Beachwood BBQ. The clientele at B's is laid back and beer savvy, and comments such as, "This is my favorite place, but I don't even tell my friends because it's my secret," abound at the bar.
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Due to starving-artist-syndrome, you will find the beer and (really good) food prices to be more reasonable than any beer bar in L.A. There are three outdoor patios to soak up the sun while sipping your brew and, with most of the bartenders being musicians, the music is great too.