Around six months ago, a flip-flop-wearing Evan Price of Green Cheek rolled up to my house on one of his twin boys’ thigh-high Razer scooters. Being neighborly, he brought me a six-pack of his freshly-brewed Kolsch-style beer called Smooth Translation and we chatted about my recent trip to Cologne. “Oh, by the way, we’re opening a new spot in Sunset Beach soon,” he mentioned before zipping off back home to the fam.
I had completely forgotten about it until I got a random 10 pm text from Evan the other night, “Oh dude! come down tomorrow.”
Sunset Beach, where Green Cheek’s new location sits, is sort of a sleepy-seaside strip that PCH runs through with a teeny population of less than a thousand. The main drag has a few touristy spots, small hotels, and surf & turf restaurants to meander, but if you’re not from Sunset Beach, you’re probably headed to hit the waves at nearby Seal or Huntington Beach.
“We really like the area, and we love that it’s on PCH,” says Evan, smiling. “We’ve never had a location that actually has any visibility, so this is a total game changer for us,” he continued. Green Cheek’s original location in Orange is very much like a brewery speakeasy that’s tucked far in the backof an industrial park, and the Costa Mesa location is adjacent to a lot of foot traffic, yet firmly manages to keep its hidden gem status. “We’re also stoked riip beer co. is nearby (less than a mile) because they’re making insanely good beer and we like that we can have a little brewery tour-type thing up here,” adds Evan.
Green Cheek’s new spot is a boxy bi-level blue building with two bars, a full kitchen, with an upstairs patio deck that’s perfect for soaking in the sun with suds and buds. “I really wanted a drive-through at this location, and it’s probably the most exciting part of the whole thing!” says Evan, beaming. The drive-through, for legal purposes, is more of a curb-side pickup, where you have to physically exit your vehicle to get cans or crowlers, but with limited parking, being able to stop in for bites and beers to go is a huge bonus with nothing like it in the area. On the patio deck, you can see the Pacific Ocean, as well as an oil rig that put this beach on the map.
The food menu is the same as Costa Mesa, yet may see some quick changes. “We actually hired a kitchen manager,” notes Evan. “We’ve had the same menu for over a year, and we’re definitely going to expand on that with a seasonal shift of some dishes,” he continued. The smash burger thus far remains the biggest seller, where they grind a brisket and chuck blend onsite. There’s also a tasty chicken club that’s brined, baked, then seared to order, and also a really healthy Mediterranean salad. “When I was at TAPS, they’d always say we’re a restaurant first and brewery second, and we always hated hearing that, so I don’t want to say we’re a brewery first and food second…here we want to keep a small focused food menu that’s done right,” he added.
When it comes to deciding on what to drink, Green Cheek’s regular lineup of West Coast and Hazy IPA’s, lagers, classics, mixed fermentation foeder beers, as well as their successful line of seltzers is all on offer. “What’s crazy is there are two different games with drinkers,” notes Evan. “What people drink here versus what people bring home…we see people crush lagers, west coasts, and seltzers on site, then take home our canned hazies and doubles to go.” And those that think flavored seltzers are fading away, Evan noted their lavender lemonade has sold more than any other single beer they’ve made. I’m not a seltzer guy whatsoever, but theirs taste more like a crushable home cocktail than just fake fruity fizz. They’re definitely worth checking out if you’re “beered out.”
With any new location, one would expect distribution to take a hit, and that’s the case here. “We’ve always been a very small distribution brewery, maybe 15% ish of our total output…with this coming online, we’ll probably go down to zero-ish,” notes Evan. Small breweries seem to struggle with distribution, and Green Cheek’s being able to push their own quality beverages across their own bar is the key to their success. So if you want to get Green Cheek beer in the future, it sounds like you’re going to gave to visit one of their three locations.
“Will there be a fourth location soon?” I ask. “Maybe,” answers co-owner Brian Rauso. “I need to take a few months off after this,” he added, sighing.
Green Cheek Sunset beach is open Wednesday through Sunday, and open at 9 am on weekends with a simple coffee setup, breakfast burritos, and beach vibes. 16685 E. Pacific Coast Highway, Sunset Beach, CA