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When we opened our first store, just over nine years ago, we very much defined ourselves by the Brewer's Association definition of a craft brewer. At the time this seemed appropriate, though it's worth noting that the BA is a trade organization, intent on defining a brewer, not a craft beer retail bottle shop or tap room. As we grew and watched the very small industry around us grow, we realized that it was time we figured out who the heck we were.
Much of 2014 was spent hammering out our mission (and trinity): amazing beer, hospitality, and education! The first four years of our business, we didn't buy or sell beer that was brewed by those breweries that controlled the majority of the beer brewed in the world, breweries like AB-InBev, MillerCoors, and Gambrinus. Later that same year we made a decision to stop dividing ourselves from others, by what beer we bought and sold. We actually wanted to stop keeping score and let what was at our core be the shining star in our stores: really amazing beer!
So craft beer, to us, is incredible beer. It's that simple!
And no, you will not find macro-brewed beer, wine, cider, sake and liquor at Craft Beer Cellar, but don't be suprised if we carry or support a damned good beer that doesn't exactly have craft or artisanal ownership.
We are a craft beer bottle shop, whose primary focus has always been the best beer that we can get our hands on. We spend our lives in search of beers made in breweries just down the street or on the other side of the world, that are well-crafted and good examples of either their style or what we think excellent beer should be, keeping in mind that "style" is not everything. We are not snobs, we are beer geeks! We are students of our trade and take great pride in learning everything we can about beer; how it's made, what the ingredients are, what we should drink it from, and what food a beer pairs well or can be made with. We like to tinker with draft systems, tap faucets and kegs, and have been known to brew some pretty ridiculous beer, ourselves. We are your local good beer bottle shop and in many states, tap room, for on-premise draft service or sip-n-shop; craft beer isn’t just a section of the store for us! Many of our stores offer limited food service, as well as an extensive selection of books, glassware, homebrew supplies and other related merchandise.
As our industry has grown and changed so quickly in the past few years, around beer laws, distribution, brewing, and brewery tap rooms, with own-and-off premise sales, we've had to tweak our product sets, too. Some Craft Beer Cellar locations have stewarded larger wine sections and helped us understand and explore how this will become a more important aspect of what Craft Beer Cellar does. So far, we've enjoyed learning so much about grapes and tiny producers, blenders and vineyards across the globe. We've experimented with Biodynamic Wines and look forward to pulling together a company-wide wine philosophy and porfolio that we all can be proud of.
All beer geeks in all of our stores are Apprentice Beercierge or Cicerone® Certified Beer Servers. Store Owners are Certified Cicerone® and Certified Beercierge, by Craft Beer Cellar standard; many go on to obtain higher certifications. Rest assured that we have studied & researched every single beer in our stores, before we made a decision to put it on the shelf.
Our customers are the reason we exist and you should expect to be treated like you are important to us! We carry boxes to cars, make great eye contact, genuinely care how your day is going, and are not afraid to own our mistakes, if we screw something up. In addition to amazing beer and education, it is our goal to ensure you always have an unbelievable experience at any Craft Beer Cellar!
And yes, call us a Franchise if you like, because that’s what we are. But we are also a crew of independently owned Craft Beer Cellar stores. We are committed to driving the growth and awareness of craft beer (and other products) through hospitality, education and the exceptional products we choose to carry.
Hi folks! 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 eight 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've opened 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.