As beer towns go, Los Angeles may lag behind cities such as San Francisco, Portland and Seattle, but the City of Angels—and the Eastside, specifically—just took a giant step forward with the opening this past weekend of Sunset Beer Co., the newest venture from John Nugent and Jennifer Morgan, co-owners of Eagle Rock’s , and Drew Von Ah and Jenna Miller-Von Ah, Eagle Rock residents and investors in Eagle Rock Brewery.
According to Nugent, the four co-owners came up with the idea for L.A.’s first, all-bottle beer shop and tasting lounge while sitting on the porch together drinking—what else?—beer.
200 Bottles of Beer on the Wall
Located in a strip mall in Echo Park, the unremarkable storefront gives little indication of the welcoming interior. The entrance leads directly into the retail store, which has a wall of refrigerated coolers stocked with craft beers—200 brands of hard-to-find stouts, lagers and ales. That’s a hefty number to start with, but Von Ah says they’ll keep adding beers.
“Five hundred, 700, a thousand—as high as we can go,” he says.
At $22 a bottle, Russian River Consecration, a dark Belgian ale, is at the top end of price line, but general manager Alex Macy--who’s run the beer programs at Red Carpet Wine & Liquor, CitySip and downtown’s Bottlerock--says Sunset Beer Co. will offer high-quality beer but at competitive prices.
Lounge and Taste
Anxious to check out your newest craft selection? There’s no need for furtive sidewalk sips from a brown-paper-bagged bottle. At Sunset Beer Co., just step past the partial dividing wall to the tasting lounge. The high-backed communal booth is the perfect spot to while away an afternoon, alternating bottled brews with tastes of the six beers on tap.
Von Ah says they’ll eventually expand the number of draft beers to 10. Expect select wine and sake offerings, Beer-of-the-Month clubs, chef tastings and other pairing and food events in the future.
Supportive Community/Tried and True Design
Sunset Beer Co. received unconditional support and approval from the Echo Park community, says Nugent, although he adds that the opening was delayed by five or six months because of bureaucratic wrangling with the Department of Building and Safety.
Luckily, landlord Paul Sislin, who sought them out as tenants, was “incredibly supportive,” says Nugent.
The bright yellow-and-red Sunset Beer Co. logo, which evokes a beer cap, was designed by Nugent’s former boss, Evan Spiridellis, co-owner of Jibjab Media, Inc., from Chicago. Designer Rick Crane, who created the Colorado Wine Co. interiors, is also responsible for Sunset Beer Co.’s atmosphere, which is dark and comfortable, with clean lines and dim lighting.
Colorado Wine Co. regulars will undoubtedly recognize Jeff Klarins and Rebecca Johnson’s (aka Bughouse, collectively) artwork on the creamy yellow walls painted in “Fortune Cookie”—fitting, given that the storefront was once a Chinese restaurant, according to Nugent.
Herbalife to Lush Life
Most recently, however, the 2,000-foot space was, ostensibly, a ladies gym. “We walked in and there were only two Nautilus machines and two women sitting behind the counter selling Herbalife,” recounts Morgan. “And one punching bag hanging from the ceiling—it was definitely Kubreckian.”
Sunset Beer Co. is located at 1498 Sunset Blvd., #3, 90026. (213) 481-2337. Tuesday through Saturday, 12 noon to 11 p.m.; Sunday, 12 noon to 9 p.m.