When Domaine LA opened in September 2009, the shop was saddled with a liquor license that would not allow for beer sales. But as craft beer caught on in Los Angeles, Bernheimer's clients began asking for craft beer options more often.
It took the dedicated oenophile years to work through the licensing bureaucracy, and once the sale of beer was approved, Bernheimer realized her limited knowledge of brews meant that she'd need some help maximizing the limited shelf space that she could dedicate to beer.
She called on restaurateur Han, a friend whose reputation as one of L.A.'s passionate craft beer evangelists was built as craft fans flocked to his popular hangout.
Han said that he's known Bernheimer since the early days of Domaine LA, and she is his go-to wine resource. His concept for the beer selection at Domaine LA, he said, is to feature beer and breweries that offer an "interesting take on where ingredients are sourced from" and feature flavors "approachable from a wine-drinkers perspective."
"I trust his taste and relationships [with brewers and distributors]," Bernheimer said as she explained what she envisions with the new offerings: Domaine LA is known for a carefully curated wine inventory -- "[We] only carry what I love," she said -- and the beer options will be just as carefully selected.
Beers from Oregon's Logsdon Farmhouse Ales, Almanac Brewing Company from the Bay Area, and specialty bottles from Orange County's The Bruery were among the first beers offered, and each brewery is known for its creative use of uncommon ingredients or processes.
Both Bernheimer and Han stressed that the philosophies of the featured breweries were more important than stocking a specific style of beer or filling a particular niche. That's why there are no IPAs in the initial lineup.
Han said he knew that the popular beer style, known for an audacious use of hops, would be requested often, but that beer, like wine, is all about discovery. Given that, he said he hopes that Domaine LA's wine-loving clients will leave their previous notions of craft beer behind and approach his rotating selections with an open mind.
Domaine LA, 6801 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, (323) 932-0280.