Familiar Vibe; Better Beer

A Midwestern-style bar done right

Few establishments other than the neighborhood bar are open at night on a holiday weekend in small-town Middle America.

And thank goodness that they are. The reliable, warm cocoon of neon and skunky Milwaukee-brewed beer found at spots from our past, like the Red Rock or the John Wayne, provide a much-needed escape from family and dirty dishes alike.

Knowing and loving such bars sidelines us with odd pangs of nostalgia when we visit faux dives in Los Angeles, like the newly opened Glendale Tap. Sipping a sour tulip glass of Monk's Café Flemish Sour Red Ale ($8) in an environment where the backlit Hamm's signs are more kitsch than advertisement causes us uncomfortable levels of cognitive dissonance.

But somewhere between the moment when our bartender scolded us for neatly piling the shells from our free basket of peanuts on the bar (they should be thrown on the floor!) and when we realized that the pool tables are free, we fell for the place.

It doesn't hurt that the long line of taps features an impressive selection of beers. We sipped on reliable standbys like Anchor Steam Porter ($6), and such less common beers as the hoppy Old Bar Brown Ale ($6) from Ventura's Ouroboros Ales.

The Glendale Tap, 4227 San Fernando Rd., Glendale; 818-241-4227 or facebook.com/glendaletap