All the news that's fit to sip
It’s no secret that Austin’s craft beer industry has experienced tremendous growth in recent years. And with that growth has come the opportunity for businesses to carve out their own specialized niches within the community–from Austin’s first craft beer bar dedicated to exclusively serving Texan brews, to our first purpose-built growler fill shop, heck, central Texas is even home to Texas’s only malthouse. But, this month marks a new milestone for the city’s beer scene–Austin’s first bottle shop dedicated exclusively to craft beer.
Opening on South Lamar April 19, the puntasticly named WhichCraft Beer Store will offer shoppers hundreds of options for local, national and international craft beers, without having to fight for shelf space with wine, liquor or groceries.
The concept has been about a year in the making for WhichCraft Owner Jody Reyes, who moved to Texas in 2013 after living in some very established beer cities like Minneapolis and Seattle. With the move, Reyes decided to take the opportunity to leave his corporate job and follow his true passion–beer, obviously.
“My goal with WhichCraft is to offer a complement to the burgeoning craft beer scene we have here in Austin,” Reyes said. “I want to create a destination retail environment that is very customer-centric and a true part of the craft beer community here.”
As part of that vision, Reyes is committed to creating a shop environment that allows craft beer geeks and newbies alike to walk away with a bottle of beer, and some friendly factoids from a highly knowledgeable staff to go with it.
“We will aim to always provide expert and diverse beer knowledge to customers,” Reyes said. “I want customers to leave the store knowing more than when they arrived.”
In keeping with this idea, apart from a grab-and-go style cooler in the back of the store, all of the shelves will be organized by beer style. This should benefit both that customer who knows they can go right to the IPA section to find that Odell IPA they came in for, and the shopper who just enjoyed their first imperial stout over the weekend and wants to find more great beers of the same style.
WhichCraft will also have a tasting bar adjacent to the cash register, at which Reyes plans to have brewers host samplings on a very regular basis. And, every Friday and Saturday night for a couple of hours, instead of featuring beer from a single brewery, the WhichCraft staff will pour customers samples of all the beers that came in that week.
“You can taste whatever happens to be new,” Reyes said.
The bottle shop’s interior (which you can see from these photos is still very much under construction) will be a kind of homage to Austin beer. The wood lining on the beer shelves was salvaged from pallets donated by Austin Homebrew Supply, and the cash wrap has been adorned with a large mosaic of Real Ale and Independence Brewing bottle caps which spell out the word “craft.”
It took Reyes months to find a suitable location for the shop, which needed the same zoning requirements as a liquor store, but when an available space came up in the strip of South Lamar retail outlets hosting Bird’s Barbershop and Aviary, he decided this was it. Then there’s the shop’s immediate next door neighbor–Black Sheep Lodge. The fact that the sports bar just so happens to attract beer drinkers all day long certainly doesn’t hurt either.
“The fact that Black Sheep is right next door is just so awesome,” Reyes said. “I mean we share stairs. We got pretty lucky in that regard.”
WhichCraft officially opens its doors April 19, and the week that follows will feature several brewery tastings.
The store will be open Tuesday-Sunday (since the lack of liquor prevents them from having to close up shop on the lord’s day). Hours of operation at this time are planned for 11am-9pm, with the possibility of extended weekend and/or summer hours.
*Photos courtesy of WhichCraft Beer Store