Sweeney’s Ale House is the latest craft beer destination from Ryan Sweeney and frequent business partners Brandon Bradford and Alen Aivazian, who previously teamed on spots like The Surly Goat in West Hollywood and The Woodman in Sherman Oaks. However, this is the first time Sweeney, one of L.A.’s foremost craft beer pros, has put his name on a sign.
Sweeney’s partners, who wanted to honor him, chose the name. “It’s a huge compliment that the people I work with decided to do that,” Sweeney said, “but it’s a little weird.”
Sweeney’s Ale House replaced Saghi Restaurant near Encino Commons. Now you’ll find a patio out front and a sprawling interior that includes a pair of shuffleboard tables, custom brown pleather lounge seating, high-top tables, a 20-yard wood bar and plenty of nautical elements. Walls host ship paintings, along with deer antlers and lacrosse sticks. On opening night, sports was playing on the flat screens, but soon enough, Sweeney said to expect the same “weird old ’80s movies” that play all night at Verdugo Bar and The Surly Goat.
Expect 28 rotating beers on tap. On opening night, Sweeney pulled out a lot of stops, tapping rare kegs like Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA, Firestone Walker Mocha Merlin and Goose Island Bourbon County Vanilla. Sweeney doesn’t have much time to travel these days, but he and brother Wes will still jump in a sprinter van and head to San Diego or the San Francisco Bay Area to gather 12 kegs that don’t normally see L.A. taps. That’s how Societe Brewing Company’s The Harlot and Faction Brewing NorCal Beer Geek’s IPA ended up online at Sweeney’s Ale House.
Sweeney said the focus is on “American craft,” but he plans to insert the occasional German or Belgian beer. To start, he featured beers from four L.A. breweries – Highland Park, Eagle Rock, Beachwood and Ladyface – and will rotate in other local beers to represent balanced beer styles. As always, quality trumps hyper-locality.
Sweeney will also gradually implement a bottle program, but has kept most shelves bare to start. “I’ve found over time that you don’t just buy a bunch of bottles and throw them on,” he said. “You slowly build a bottle program. Only take things that are big, massive beers that can sit around. Or sours that can sit around. I don’t put on an IPA unless it’s a special IPA. Kern River Just Outstanding? Yes, I’ll buy it.”