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Hi folks! My name is Ben Heilman, and I’m the owner of Craft Beer Cellar here in Hickory, North Carolina. I’ve always been a beer drinker in some form or another. One of my earliest memories involving beer was my Dad allowing me a sip or two of his Budweiser “red label Mabel.” At that age, I made a face, said how gross it was, and moved on. It wasn’t until later on in life, around the time I turned 22, that I got my first taste of craft beer. It was a Chimay Grande Reserve, bought from a now defunct website in California. The shipping was bananas, but the beer was a game changer for me. Up until that point, all I ever drank was Miller Lite, or Killian's if I was feeling fancy. This dark, nutty beer changed my perception on what was possible with beer, and awoke a hunger (thirst?) for more. It snowballed from there; I drank whatever I could get my hands on that fell under “craft beer” at the time; Sierra Nevada, Sam Adams, Dogfish Head, etc.
The past 8 years have been spent finding and discovering the next beer for me to drink, telling people about craft beer, and brewing beer of my own (albeit to varying degrees of success). I think one of my favorite beer experiences is sharing whatever I am drinking. At it’s core, beer is about sharing and communing with your fellow humans. Think about it; you and your buddy finish building a shed. What do you do? You share a beer. You find a rare, hard to get bottle, and you share it with a group of people. You go to a beer fest, and leave with 50 new friends. Somebody asks you for a beer recommendation, and you spend 10 minutes describing every beer style you can. Why do you do all those things? I can’t speak for everyone else, but I do it because I want that person to have the same “a-ha” moment that I had with Chimay. I can’t catch the proverbial Hoppy/Malty/Yeasty Dragon again, but it gives me great joy to see somebody else catch that slippery bastard, and it’s an awesome thing to be a part of.
So that, fellow beer drinkers, is why I’m opening this store. While yes, we do sell beer, that’s only a small percentage of our business. The rest, and biggest, is spent educating, sharing, and spreading the good word (can I get an amen?) of craft beer. That’s what we’re all about here at Craft Beer Cellar, and if just one of you reading this has that delicious beer epiphany, then that would make opening this store worth it many times over.