The craft-focused beer bar can be an intimidating environment for the uninitiated. No one wants an eye roll in response to a question about the difference between lagers and ales. Likewise, no one wants a 10-minute diatribe on different strains of yeast and/or hop varieties. Hitting that sweet spot between snobbery and didacticism—not everybody gets it right.
But Downtown’s latest craft beer spot finds the balance in a delicious way. Barrel Down is nestled into one of Downtown’s hottest hoods—it opened last month on 7th Street, a stone’s throw from Mas Malo and Bottega Louie. Natural light and the street soundscape mingle seamlessly with the airy loft-chill interior. The environment makes it easy to obey the first rule of Barrel Down (as dictated by General Manager Andy Comegys): beer should be fun, not intimidating.
“Our tap list will be really interesting to beer nerds, but everyone else will find something they like too,” Comegys says. Barrel Down has 20 core taps with selections like Almanac’s Delores, a spicy saison, and Three Weaver’s Seafarer, a refreshingly clean kolsch. There will also be 20 rotating taps with more seasonal selections and special releases (as of last Thursday, they had Ballast Point’s Habanero Sculpin and Tenaya Creek’s Old Jackalope).
But what elevates Barrel Down from solid beer bar to must-hit Downtown restaurant is the menu (developed by Alma alum Derrick de Jesus): every dish was created with beer in mind and boasts a Southern flair. The bartenders and servers have all been trained to offer beer pairings with dishes like honey-and-chili-glazed bbq carrots, Southern shrimp sandwich with fried green tomato, and mussels cooked in sour beer.
And for those of us who are looking to absorb a little beer knowledge with our pint, Barrel Down will be home base to DTLA’s homebrewing club. Comegys says that Barrel Down will offer beer education classes and homebrew seminars by the end of the summer.