Sunset Beer Company snuck into Echo Park quietly last year, opening one Friday in a nearly vacant mini-mall on Sunset Boulevard.
It was the brainchild of two Eagle Rock couples—John Nugent and Jen Morgan of and Drew and Jenna Vonah—who were sick of driving all over to find exceptional small batch beers.
A year later, that mini-mall is humming, with foot traffic brought in by a clientele increasingly sophisticated in the ways of artisanal brews.
They're buying stuff from the well-stocked refrigerators, as well as the carefully curated taps at the bar.
And they're staying to hang out in the library-style lounge.
Sunset Beers' owners credit their employees for building a successful business so fast, including Jeff Sapsford.
He has worked at Sunset Beer since opening day and is the manager.
"The most important thing has been figuring out what the neighborhood likes to drink," he said.
That has turned out to be craft beers, especially "sour brews."
"Sour brews are somewhere in between beer and wine and don't have the overwhelming carbonation," Sapsford said.
A former art teacher, Sapsford has an M.F.A. from Central Florida University in sculpture.
"Everyone here has a fun story," he said.
He said it's easy for him to connect with people in the area, which helps him educate about beer too.
People seem to be willing to learn.
The first wave of Sunset Beer's "Mug Club," which gives members special discounts and previews, sold out its 60 slots in hours last week.
Saturday's One-Year Anniversary party features DJs Lance Rock and Pliny the Hipster and the Hoptimizer, the Komodo truck and Patch Reader's Choice winner L.A. Pizza Company, which moved next to Sunset Beer earlier this year.
is located at 1428 W. Sunset Blvd., (213) 481-2337.