Tasty Beverage Co. – “We are a company and we sell tasty beverages”
This past week I visited one of Raleigh’s awesome, and well-known bottle shops: Tasty Beverage Co. Opened in August of 2011, the shop has become a go-to place for those of us that want to select from an excellent stock of craft beer from across the country and around the world. Like most bottle shops in the area, Tasty Beverage has a small bar in the back topped with several taps. On Tuesday, they were tapping “Beer Camp #82 – The Headliner,” developed at Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp out in Colorado. Win Bassett (Executive Director of The North Carolina Brewer’s Guild and Social Media & Beer Educator at “All About Beer Magazine”) attended this particular Beer Camp and had a hand in creating this very enjoyable BIPA/Cascadian Dark Ale. I was fortunate enough to be able to sample this, as well as “Chombers One,” a beer that Tasty Beverage collaborated with Fullsteam to create in order to celebrate they’re one year anniversary.
The Headliner – It poured very smoothly, a deep brown/black, and had a nice, solid head. It smelled sweet, a light fruit and citrus scent, with notes of toffee. Boldly flavored, there was a heavy roasted flavor, with chocolate/coffee flavors gradually coming out, and a slight sweetness leant by Cascadian hops. The finish was pleasantly hoppy, and not too bitter. This is a very solid, session-able beer. If you happen to be in Raleigh in the next couple weeks, you have got to seek this one out. It’s at Tasty Beverage Co, and on November 30 it will be on tap at The Busy Bee Café.
Chombers One – Pouring a bright yellow/golden color, it has a slight haze to it. It has a bright citrus-y scent, something almost floral, and there are definitely notes of spices present (it has been brewed with buckwheat, lemon verbena, and green sage). The flavor matches the scent: bright, light, slightly sweet, there’s definitely lemon present, and the sage comes out in the finish. Chombers One can (to my knowledge) only be found at Tasty Beverage Co and at Fullsteam in Durham. If at all possible, you should get yourself one of these bottles. But be quick! There are only 2012 of these in existence.
After sipping on these two refreshing, local (well…almost) brews, I caught up with the owners of Tasty Beverage, a couple of great guys, Sean Pratt and Johnny Belflower. We chatted a bit, and I asked a few questions.
How did you guys get your start in beer?
Johnny: That’s tough…I guess I got my start when Tasty opened. Prior to this I just loved it and consumed it regularly. I just enjoy drinking lots of different delicious beers with my friends. There can’t be many better ways to pass the time.
Sean: I didn’t drink much alcohol until I did a study abroad in Sweden. I grew to enjoy it there, and then through friends here I was introduced to the wide variety of craft beer that exists. I came to think of it as a pretty swell beverage.
Why the name “Tasty Beverage Co.”?
Just keeping it simple. We are a company and we sell tasty beverages.
What inspired you to open Tasty Beverage? When did you guys realize that you wanted to go in together and open a craft beer bottle shop?
Raleigh has lacked a dedicated beer store and we wanted to shop somewhere that was totally focused on this beverage that we love. The average beer consumer is becoming more intelligent regarding craft beer, and the demand for specialty beer is growing, especially in this city. We recognized the need and wanted to create the beer store we always wanted to shop at. We also thought it would be a ridiculous amount of fun, and we were right.
Why did you pick Raleigh? What about the city drove the decision to open in the Warehouse District?
Johnny: Honestly, I simply love North Carolina and I love this city. Specifically, we believe this part of Raleigh is becoming a great center for business, dining and retail. We wanted to be a part of Raleigh, but in a space that could cater the needs of our clientele. To have a parking lot, but be part of the downtown grid, was extremely important to us. The Warehouse District is a fun area that is growing rapidly and we’re happy to be here.
Sean: We both live in Raleigh and love this city. The Warehouse District is a great place that has a wide variety of businesses and we felt we fit in with them quite well. The building that we are located in is a 100-year-old train depot that includes a parking lot, which is not always the case in a downtown location. We are extremely happy to be located here.
I’m sure you’re asked this quite often: what is the meaning of ‘Chombers’?
We do indeed. It is a word that means anything you want it to, as long as it is positive. It is generally used as an exclamation of happiness. It is a fun word to say that makes us happy.
I like getting peoples’ views on this: How do you feel about Sierra Nevada, New Belgium, and Oskar Blues opening facilities in North Carolina? What sort of impact do you think this will have on the NC craft beer scene?
We are really excited about all of them. We see our New Belgium and Oskar Blues sales representatives almost weekly, and they are some of our favorite humans in the business. All three breweries are incredible and integral parts of the craft beer ‘awakening’ going on in this country. We are proud that they see North Carolina as the state to expand their business. We think that it will only positively impact beer in our state. It brings attention to the state and all of the beer that is produced here, which we believe is a good thing.
Right now, what is your favorite beer that you have in store?
Johnny: Without hesitation, Rochefort 10.
Sean: While what I may want to drink at different times changes based on many different variables, Rochefort 10 is one of the most glorious beverages on the planet.
What’s your favorite North Carolina brewery/favorite NC beer?
What NC seasonal are you looking forward to this winter?
Johnny: I’m especially excited about Belle Starr from Lonerider. It made a really big impression on me last year and I can’t wait to drink it again. I’ve also been impressed with what Foothills has done with the Carolina Beer Company line and am excited to try the Cottonwood Frostbite Black IPA, which we can expect any day now.
Sean: I am excited to consume Olde Hickory’s Imperial Stout. Even though Mother Earth Old Neighborhood is not a winter seasonal, it is out right now and I love it.
Congrats on your first anniversary! How did you make the decision to celebrate by creating a one-off beer? What did that whole process look like?
Thanks a bunch! We were largely inspired by Bottleworks, and their series of anniversary beers and this is something we hope to do on a yearly basis as well. Sean [Lilly Wilson] and Fullsteam have been an inspiration to us, and we thought they made a perfect fit for this first year. We couldn’t be happier with the final product.
Any final thoughts? Anything that you feel the readers of The Full Pint should know about?
We appreciate you taking the time to talk with us. If any of you have not drunk a Rochefort 10 yet, you should. You should also have the best day ever. Chombers!