Spring Street Bar, located at 626-B S. Spring Street, between 6th and 7th Street in Downtown LA, is a perfect example of what small neighborhood craft beer bars should be. Although the bar/deli serves both wine and spirits, as well as some interesting sodas, the main emphasis is on craft beer. How can one tell? Well first off, the beer list is selected with care. 26 taps, 20 of which were California breweries when I visited. They also always seem to have a few beers from the ever elusive Craftsman Brewing Company on tap. Anyone familiar with Craftsman knows that their beers tend to be hard to find, despite the fact that they are a local LA brewery. In the few times I have been to the bar, 1903 Lager has always been on tap, as well as a couple other seasonal releases from Craftsman.
Beer flights at Spring St. are a reasonable $10 dollars, and patrons can choose 4 selections from any beers on the menu. Beers otherwise tend to run between $6 and $8 dollars. For my flight, I ended up going with all LA County breweries. I tried for the first time a beer from Dudes’ Brewing Company, one of the newest breweries to come out of the emerging LA craft beer scene. I also tried Craftsman’s Poppy-fields, which was new to me, a selection from El Segundo Brewing, and lastly an XPA from local favorite Eagle Rock Brewery.
The bar is located in the Spring Street Financial District of downtown (just a few doors down from the Los Angeles Stock Exchange), and the owners have made sure to maintain the original feel of the building, but also have updated the space with tiled walls, a clean and minimalist bar set up, and old fashioned bar stool seating throughout. The design does a good job of looking old fashioned without seeming gimmicky.
Of course in mentioning the deli design, I must also mention the food. Everything from the menu, to the food selections, to the decor, to the authentic deli “take a number” counter all bring the patron back to delicatessens of old, that I honestly haven’t really seen too much of since my childhood. It’s like the perfect synthesis of fast food, and made to order, fresh fare. I think this type of food works well with craft beer. The food is accessible, and pairs quite well with a variety of beers on tap.
It’s worth mentioning that this bar gets really busy on Friday and Saturday nights. Since Spring St. Bar is fairly small to begin with, on the weekends it just fills up quite quickly with neighborhood downtown folks. I should point out this LA Times article about when Spring St. Bar opened 3 years ago. Perhaps the most interesting part of the article is that the owners of the bar orginially believed they should have a pale American adjunct lager on tap to appeal to a large demographic. They chose Busch beer, but took it off the menu in less then a year because their customers wanted something different. I think it’s a testament to the emerging craft beer scene in Los Angeles, and also speaks to consumers’ changing tastes. At this point in Los Angeles, it’s completely possible to open a deli/craft beer bar hybrid and not only survive, but thrive.