This Wednesday, Erik Lars Myers will be at Carrboro Beverage Company to talk beer and sign copies of his new book, North Carolina Craft Beer & Breweries. Carrboro Beverage Company, the bottle shop associated with Tyler’s Taproom next door and the Speakeasy around the corner, is warm and bright, with hardwood floors, fully stocked coolers to build your own six packs, and an assortment of treats—coffee, wine, specialty sodas, and LocoPops—for those less inclined to beer. In warmer months, the door to the Shop is usually propped open, and pedestrians wander in off Carrboro’s Main Street to see what’s on tap and chat with the Shop’s seriously knowledgeable staff. Below, Dan Warfield, Carrboro Beverage Company employee and friend of Blair, tells us a little more about beer and working at the bottle shop.
What is your favorite thing about working at Carrboro Beverage Company?
Without a doubt the best thing about working at the Shop is being surrounded by people—staff and customers—with a great enthusiasm for good beer. The staff is great at being knowledgeable without being snobby, and has attracted a clientele that fits that bill, too.
How do you help people decide what to try?
Personally, my initial question is if there’s a style (or styles) someone gravitates towards. If someone doesn’t dig hoppy beers, I won’t try to sell them on a Double IPA; if they’re not into dark beers, Imperial stouts probably aren’t their jam. Conversely, sometimes people who’re really into a particular style want to try something on the opposite end of the spectrum. Other criteria are what the beer’s for: gift? Food pairing?
What are the best beers to try as a novice?
I think the best beers to try as a novice are “as many as possible.” You won’t know if you love Scotch ales until you try a Scotch ale. That’s definitely one of the benefits to being able to build six packs.
What can you recommend now that the weather is getting warmer?
I’m a big fan of drinking seasonally. That’s not to say I might not have an oatmeal stout or two during the summer (in air conditioning, anyway), but some buzzwords that come up a lot in the summer months are “after yard work” and “by the grill.” To that end I’m really into lagers and pilsners. Sometimes people can be a little put off by the suggestion because their minds—and taste buds—automatically go to the sort of American macrobrews they’ve come into the Shop to get away from, but if they take a chance to get acquainted with a really well-crafted lager, they’ll typically be happy they did.
Do you sell a lot of North Carolina beers?
We do indeed. We have a whole section of NC beers. Foothills [of Winston-Salem] starting to bottle was met with as much staff enthusiasm as just about anything else that’s happened in the year and a half that I’ve worked there.
What is your best-selling beer?
The best-selling style is probably India Pale Ale. Within said style, Bell’s Two Hearted, Founder’s Centennial, and Uinta Hopnotch seem to duke it out for the top spot. A lot of craft beer enthusiasts are self-proclaimed “hop heads.”
How did Carrboro Beverage Company get started?
Tyler [Huntington, owner of local restaurant chain Tyler’s Taproom] obviously has an affinity for great beer, so the Shop was a logical next step. The idea was to provide Carrboro and Chapel Hill with a place to get great beers. A bonus is that if patrons of Tyler’s or the Speakeasy try something the love on tap, they can pick up the beer (or something similar) to take and enjoy at home.
What makes Carrboro a good place for a bottle shop?
Carrboro’s a great location for a host of reasons: the sense of community, the passion for supporting local businesses, the pedestrian-friendly nature downtown, and a populace full of folks with pretty sophisticated palates.
Tell us about some of the events you guys host at the Shop.
We have a scheduled free Thursday night tasting (7 to 9), and have started to do ImprompTuesday tastings, as well (7ish to 9ish), since Tuesdays tend to be the day new stuff comes in. Starting this year, we’ve put an emphasis on larger, extracurricular events (so far, they’ve been hosted at the Speakeasy, although tickets are sold through the Bottle Shop). January was an Imperial IPA tasting, coinciding with the release of Bell’s Hopslam (easily one of the most anticipated releases throughout the year). February was an Imperial Stout tasting, in honor of Foothills’ Sexual Chocolate. March and April were lumped together under our annual Beernament, a blind tasting tournament that put 32 beers in a bracket (8 each from the West, Midwest, East, and South regions) to crown a champion. The people’s palates spoke, and Lonerider’s Sweet Josie Brown came out on top. The best way to keep up on events and special beer releases is to follow the Shop on Facebook and Twitter.
How would you characterize the craft beer community in North Carolina?
The craft beer scene in North Carolina is really strong and getting better all the time. New breweries are starting up, established breweries are getting better recognition for the great work they do, and more and more breweries are bottling (and canning) which makes it even easier for people to discover them. (There’s a huge network of beer nerds that trade, nation- and worldwide.)
Thanks, Dan! To learn more, check out North Carolina Craft Beer & Breweries by Erik Lars Myers. Myers will be at Carrboro Beverage Company on Wednesday, April 25, from 7 to 9 p.m. If you’re in the area, be sure to stop by, taste some beers, and see what the Shop has to offer! Copies of North Carolina Craft Beer & Breweries will be available.