Driving along Sunset Boulevard, you've certainly got your choice of places to buy your beer. Heading towards downtown, Silversun Liquors flashes by through the driver's side window. Further on, Mohawk Bend and The Gold Room whizz past, quietly imploring you to pull from the tap instead of pulling from the cooler rack. But if you can make it this far, just beyond Echo Park Avenue as the road slowly climbs towards Dodgers Stadium, there is an oasis of craft beer waiting to quench your thirst. This is Sunset Beer Company.
Opened in 2011 as the city's first true craft beer bottle haven, Sunset Beer Company has become what it always imagined itself to be: A well-curated local spot for serious beer drinkers to talk shop, try product and generally relax. Walking in, the main room is littered with bottles, all full, waiting to be picked up, touched, read, and (hopefully) purchased. A few tables hold much of the day's delivery; a scattering of assorted six packs that range from pedestrian to downright fussy. Great Divide Brewing's Yeti stout rests large in its deep brown cardboard holster, while old-school Boddington cans sit wrapped in their signature yellow. Banana bread beers, saisons, triple IPAs all share table space - and each one catches the eye. It's only when you look to the right, along the main wall, that you see row after row of stocked coolers. There are enough bottles and cans here to make Beck clap his hands, from just down the road in Eagle Rock, an hour away in Orange County, or around the globe in Belgium. The racks are stacked high and tight, for fear that excess room might prompt some beer aficionado to crawl inside and never come out.
If you aren't already overwhelmed yourself, keep moving left. The rest of the 2000 square foot space is a semi-segregated bar room. Well, perhaps taproom is more appropriate. With only six taps running and a few soft seats placed just so, the open room feels more like a beer drinker's laboratory than a hophead hangout. Since the taps change daily, there is always something new to ponder over, contemplate, and sip on. There are no pounding beats, bad acoustics or Cosmopolitans, just refined palates and a love of all things beer.
Sitting down with a glass from the tap, this should be an intimidating experience, with drinkier-than-thou guys looking over their pints at you with equal parts amusement and disdain. Yet, despite the range of options and dogmatic specificity that comes with craft beer, everyone in a Sunset Beer t-shirt is unfailingly kind. There is none of the knowledge-hoarding or latent bullying that often accompanies a learning curve. Instead, this place is an oasis. All are invited to come and drink freely. There is a wellspring here, overflowing with craft beer culture, and everyone can come for a sip.
Sunset Beer Company
1498 Sunset Blvd., 213-481-2337