Beer Brothers: Brandon and Ryan Nickelson of Craft Beer Cellar Clayton

CBC Clayton Opening Day

 

The Gateway City is about to get beer-ier. At 10am on Saturday, May 17th, Craft Beer Cellar Clayton‘s doors will open to the public. Music will play, high-fives will be distributed freely, and fresh beer will flow from the taps behind the bar.

You read that correctly: taps, yo!

 CBC_ClaytonLogo_nobckgrnd

As only the second store in the Craft Beer Cellar family to offer growler fills (after Craft Beer Cellar Waterbury, of course), and the FIRST to offer tasting flights of the available options, CBC Clayton is poised to be our new favorite after-work/mid-day/weekend/anytime hangout around STL. (Ok, we admit we’re a little biased.)

In advance of the Grand Opening, we wanted to share a little extra information about the brothers at the store’s helm, Brandon Nickelson, CBC Clayton’s “Hoperations Manager”, and Ryan Nickelson, CBC Clayton’s “Hoportunity Developer.”

We hope Brandon (L) and Ryan know that bar isn't going to finish itself. Back to work, fellas!

Brandon (L) and Ryan are working round the clock to be ready for opening day on May 17th!

 

Editor’s note: Brandon recently completed the Certified Cicerone® Exam. We are FRIGGIN’ PUMPED and send him and newly Certified Cicerone® Walter Miska (from Craft Beer Cellar Westford) the maddest of #madluv

1. Why did you want to join the Craft Beer Cellar family?

 

BRANDON: I worked in a retail beer store when I was in my early 20s. It had always been a dream of mine to create one of my own, I just wanted it to be better in every way! I put together a business plan and worked up a business name and logo, but life took unexpected turns such: career changes, having a child, big “growing up” things like that. When I found the Craft Beer Cellar store and franchise opportunity, I knew I stumbled upon something amazing. A high-end retail craft-only beer store? It was exactly what I wanted in a beer store but was unable to put on paper. Everything about Craft Beer Cellar is about the best quality beer experience. I was on board in a heartbeat. This was for me from the moment I found it!

 

RYAN: Craft Beer Cellar is the embodiment of a dream job for me. I’ve been exploring craft beer since college and have developed a deep respect for the art of brewing great beer. Early on in my beer enjoying life I felt like the typical light american lagers that are on every shelf of every gas station were lacking something. Through his job in a retail bottle shop, Brandon introduced me to a world that I didn’t know existed. We’d talked about working together on one of our own, and one day we found the Craft Beer Cellar family. As they say, the rest is history.

 

2. Why is Craft Beer Cellar a good fit for Clayton, MO?

 

BRANDON: Clayton is a great city that’s centrally located in St. Louis county. A wave of change has hit Clayton over the past few years, and it’s now home to some of the most important and trend setting restaurants and boutique shops. 5 Star Burgers, The Libertine, Pastaria, and Mad Tomato are just killing it there. Our plaza on Maryland Ave is in the thick of it. Clayton was very high on my list of ideal locations. When the space at 8113 Maryland came on the market, I knew Craft Beer Cellar had found its first home in St. Louis.

 

RYAN: Clayton has an exciting mix of shops, restaurants, bars, and parks uniquely located within walking distance of residential and commercial office space. It’s got the big city feel that people want but it also feels like a small community. Craft Beer Cellar is a perfect fit for Clayton and our neighbors are just as excited as we are about the store opening.

 

3. What kind of experience should customers look forward to when they visit Craft Beer Cellar Clayton?

 

BRANDON: That’s a great question! Craft Beer Cellar is no run-of-the-mill liquor store. And it’s really the first of its kind in St. Louis. So customers should expect to be surprised. Customers can look forward to world class service by a highly knowledgeable team. Craft Beer Cellar Clayton is going to be a very attractive store. From our expertly maintained selection to great lighting to clean and welcoming atmosphere, Craft Beer Cellar will be a great place to visit and shop.

 

RYAN: Our customers should look forward to the most thorough and well organized selection of craft beer St. Louis has ever seen under one roof. Beyond the incredible selection, our customers should look forward to a fun, engaging, and highly knowledgeable staff of Beer Geeks that are eager to provide world class service and share their passion for great beer. The store will be a really cool place to shop for, talk about, and try the best and freshest beer available anywhere.

 

Just gotta get some doors on that cooler, yo!

Just gotta get some doors on that cooler, yo!

4. What are some area attractions that visitors to Craft Beer Cellar Clayton should know about?

 

BRANDON: We are so excited about some of the things we’ll be doing in Clayton. We’ve built a 5 line draft system. The whole concept of having a draft system in a retail store blows people away. But with the current culture in the craft beer world, some of the most amazing beers available just don’t make it into bottles. So we hope to get some rare and exciting draft beers to sample in the store. Also, we’re going to rotate the drafts regularly. This ties in directly to ANOTHER exciting thing we’re doing, classes. We’re going to host regular classes that will range in topic from beer and food pairings, beer education courses, and more. But best of all, we’re going to be hosting complimentary tastings as many as 6 times per week!

 

RYAN: Our shop in Clayton is situated close to some of the STL’s best area attractions. We’re a short drive to the Delmar Loop area, which has some of our favorite bars and pubs, and all of the awesome free things St. Louis has to offer like the Science Center, the Zoo, the Missouri History Museum, the Saint Louis Art Museum and the MUNY in Forrest Park.

 

5. Can you tell us a little about your family (and yes, pets count)?

 

BRANDON: I am a family man, for sure. I have a lovely wife, Liem, and an amazing son, Milo. He’s my hero. He’s 7 years old and he’s by far the coolest kid I’ve ever met. My brother, Ryan, who also happens to be my business partner, is my best friend. He’s a great guy and I can’t imagine not having him involved in this with me! Our parents, who both live in Florida, have been extremely helpful with our venture. These are the most important people in my life and I’m blessed to have them.

 

RYAN: Family is what makes this all possible for us. We have a very supportive family and without them we wouldn’t feel as confident as we do about this exciting venture. To say that family is important to us is an understatement. I feel very fortunate to be doing this with my brother Brandon who’s also my best friend. We’ve been close our whole lives. I also feel very fortunate to have the love and support of my amazing fiancé Mollie, and our two goofball dogs Rugby and Lucy.

 

6. Many craft beer drinkers had a ‘gateway beer’ that got them into craft beer. Do you remember when/why you started to drink craft beer?

 

BRANDON: I’d be surprised if any craft beer drinker doesn’t remember that “gateway” beer. Mine was Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. The first time I tried anything that wasn’t a “macro” was when I was in my early 20s. I had a friend who worked in a tattoo shop which just happened to be next to a beer store. He was a big time beer geek and he invited me to join him to walk over to the beer store. There was a beer tasting going on that very day and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale was the beer being served. It was love at first sip! That beer turned me into a hop lover for YEARS. It’s been over the past few years that I’ve really gotten into just about anything. There is some amazing beer out there and I don’t want to miss any of it.

 

RYAN: I definitely remember my first craft beer. It was an Ayinger Altbairisch Dunkel. My brother was working in a bottle shop and I stopped in one day and made a mix six of things I’d never heard of before. I didn’t put much thought into what I was picking because it was all new to me, and I couldn’t tell you what else I put in that six pack today. But that beer stuck with me. I loved the taste of it so much and it opened my eyes to the world of craft beer. Some guys are hop heads; I consider myself a lager head. But I still strive to try everything and anything that’s new to me.

 

7. In 8 words or less, what does craft beer mean to you?

 

BRANDON: Creating memorable experiences by enjoying remarkable beer.

RYAN: Explore the world, one beer at a time.

 

In addition to Facebook, you can follow along with CBC Clayton’s pre- (and post-) opening fun on Twitter: @cbc_clayton

April 7th is Session Beer Day: A Conversation with Lew Bryson

Quick: name the best beer you had this weekend.

If your answer started with “Barrel-Aged…”, you might be a beer geek. And that’s okay.

At Craft Beer Cellar, we love high-gravity beers. Intentionally unbalanced, palate wrecking (literally) Double IPAs, dangerously drinkable 13% bourbon barrel-aged stouts, and the like are hallmarks of craft beer. Big, bold beers with explosive flavor are our jam. But maybe not today…

While many celebrate April 7th as “National Beer Day” (referencing the Cullen-Harrison Act not the ratification of the 21st amendment that repealed prohibition; Alan from “A Good Beer Blog”, as well as other beer writers in the comments, explores this “holiday” in a piece HERE ), our celebration of choice today is “SESSION BEER DAY!”

If this is you’re first time that you’ve come across the term “session beer” or the first you’re hearing about Session Beer Day, that’s fine too! To help, we chatted with Lew Bryson of “The Session Beer Project

Image copyright: Lew Bryson 2009

Image copyright: Lew Bryson 2009

From “The Session Beer Project”:

The Session Beer Project is a non-profit, unorganized, unofficial effort to popularize and support the brewing and enjoyment of session beers.
For our purposes, ‘session beer’ is defined as a beer that is:

► 4.5% alcohol by volume or less
► flavorful enough to be interesting
► balanced enough for multiple pints
► conducive to conversation
► reasonably priced

If that seems vague…it is. Here’s another definition: low-alcohol, but not low-taste. It’s subjective. Live with it, and enjoy it. We’re here to help make your night out more fun, more tasty, and more safe. Cheers!

CBC: Why is session beer important to you?

Lew: It’s about a lower alcohol choice in great tasting beer. Craft has always been about adding variety, adding choice to the beer drinker’s options. It just struck me that my “choice” was becoming MORE restrictive: I could have my choice of imperial stout, some version of IPA, or a sour, all of them usually over 7% ABV. I wanted to bring attention to the beauty that could be had on the smaller end.

CBC: What is the goal of Session Beer Day?

Lew: Same as that of the Session Beer Project: raising the profile of session beer, bringing it to people’s attention as a choice (“people” meaning drinkers AND brewers AND purveyors). 
CBC: How has session beer influenced the growth of craft beer culture? How has the growth of craft beer culture influenced session beer?
Lew: The growth of craft beer culture kind of smashed session beer for a while, but now that we’ve grown to the point where craft beer isn’t quite as defensive and adolescent and shouty as it was…I think more room for session beers has developed. Session beer in turn has influenced craft beer culture already, with the surging popularity of lower alcohol choices. But I believe the greatest influence session beer will have on craft beer culture is yet to come. What do most American beer drinkers choose, still? Light beer, practically all of which is under 4.5% (except things like the oxymoronic Bud Light Platinum, at 6+%). Give those people a craft choice at an ABV and calorie level closer to what they’re used to, and watch craft brewing explode. People WANT to drink their local beer…but often they don’t if their local beer is 8%, 80 IBU, and $8 a pint. Which gives me a chance to throw this in: should session beer be cheaper because it’s lower in alcohol? Not really, because the impact of materials costs of a 4.5% vs. a 6% beer is about a nickel a pint. But I DO think session beer should be cheaper because brewers are selling a ton of it…so drink up!
CBC: Is the distinction between 4.5%ABV beer and, say, 4.7%ABV beer really that important?
Lew: Yes, but not so much because of the alcohol. It’s because of the worth of the label. If “session beer” just means “as little as 0.1% ABV less than ‘regular beer’”, it starts to lose meaning. Session beer has to be significantly less than a regular beer in alcohol content. 4.5% is 10% less alcohol than 5.0%; that’s significant. I want it to mean something, and to continue to mean something, so I’m going to be picky. We weren’t picky about what “craft beer” meant — Is it about who makes it? What it’s made of? What it tastes like? — or what an IPA is (it’s apparently anything someone chooses to call an IPA), and those terms are losing value. I don’t want that to happen to session beer, so I’m using every bit of influence I’ve earned over 20 years of writing about beer to try to fence it off. Making 4.5% a bright line and calling any brewer — like Sierra Nevada, even — to task who calls their beer “session” when it’s more than that, is part of the job. I’ll take flak. There will be backlash. Okay. It’s worth it. This was thankless in the beginning; I can handle it. 
CBC: What does Session Beer Day 2020 look like to you?
Lew: Fireworks, parades, men and women in love and enjoying beer. Hey, why not? I’d love to see the options grow and spread, so we get more than just “Session IPA” (Jesus, people, really? What the hell is the matter with you?), so places in America other than Boston and Philly can have a great selection of session beer every day. I’d like to see more respect for good tasting beer, and less concern about the ABV. Is it about flavor and fun, or getting your money’s worth of ethanol? I mean, why ARE you drinking? I thought craft beer was about variety and FLAVOR. You want ABV? Join me for a bourbon.
CBC: What session beers will you be enjoying today? Any that you wish you could be drinking but are unavailable (either out of production or not available locally to you)?
Lew: My locals: Yards Brawler, Philly Brewing Kensinger, Sly Fox O’Reilly’s Stout, and Victory Donnybrook (I’d drink the Victory Uncle Teddy’s Bitter, which I love, but it’s hard to find outside of the brewpub). And if I could get it, I’d be drinking the hell out of Notch Pilsner! Hats off to Chris Lohring, who took a huge chance and proved that session beer CAN be successful. 
CBC: Do you have a session beer/food pairing recommendation for us?
Lew: Never really think about it. I like bitter and cheeses a LOT, and session IPA (God help me) is pretty good with a spicy pizza. But man, Victory Dark Lager and pulled pork is awesome. DRINK MORE VICTORY DARK LAGER!! They only make it once a year, and I wish more people knew about it. It’s a beautiful beer!
CBC: We know you’re a champion for the cause, so we’ll gladly allow you a few words on beer privatization in Pennsylvania.
Lew: I could write a book. It would be great to blow up the PA liquor code and start over, but there are long-time retail champions of craft beer whose businesses would be severely damaged by it. We need a considered approach without shouting and bullshit and lies, and we need to include the consumers in the discussion. We’ve been ignored forever, and it’s long past time that ended.

Cheers!

Thanks for that, Lew.

Lew Bryson writes full-time about beer and spirits, since 1995. He is the Managing Editor of Whisky Advocate. Craft Beer Cellar appreciates his time today, especially with a flat tire. Lew, next round’s on us!

To celebrate “Session Beer Day”, Craft Beer Cellar Belmont and Craft Beer Cellar The Annex will be pouring some of our staff favorites from 5-7pm tonight (Monday). We hope you can join us, and if you’re drinking out tonight: Go Small or Go Home!

Craft Beer Cellar “Style of the Month”

At Craft Beer Cellar, we are all about education. A post-holiday visit from Master Cicerone Neil Witte of Boulevard/Ommegang/DuvelUSA sparked February’s “#BeerSmart Academy” launch at Craft Beer Cellar Newton, and we’re excited to present a new “CBC Family-wide” initiative in March.

This is what we sent Master Cicerone Neil Witte back to KC with. How'd we do?

This is what we sent Master Cicerone Neil Witte back to KC with. How’d we do?

At its core, Craft Beer Cellar’s Style of the Month program is about community and culture. Throughout the month of March, Irish and Irish-style Beers will be identified on our shelves by the stickers seen below. Inside CBC stores, our Staff “Beer Geeks” have worked hard to provide you with additional information about the history of the styles and relevant breweries. On our web page and social media profiles, we will be providing recipes (for both food and beer), featuring commercial examples available locally and nationally, and offering insight from members of the industry (beer historians, brewers, publicans, bloggers, etc.). We may even throw a couple surprises your way, so keep your eyes peeled for fun events!

Look for these stickers on Craft Beer Cellar shelves to identify Style of the Month selections!

Look for these stickers on Craft Beer Cellar shelves to identify Style of the Month selections!

We look forward to your feedback about the new CBC Style of the Month program. Do you have a favorite Irish beer you’d like to share? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!

Sláinte!

Reflections on 2013, Expansion, and More!

2013 has been, in a word, crazyawesome (that’s a word, right?). Craft Beer Cellar has grown, big time, and we now have SIX!! stores open across 2 states (admittedly we were planning/hoping for eight by year’s end, but paperwork delays mean Craft Beer Cellar Portsmouth and Craft Beer Cellar Brandon will now be January 2014 gifts to the people of NH and FL, respectively). We’ve added jobs, raised loads of money for local charities, and continued to be a leader in craft beer’s growth. While we await 2013 craft beer consumption reports from the Brewers Association and other sources, suffice it to say that there is still work to be done. And we’re doing it!

In the wake of last week’s Boston Globe profile (for which we are humbled and eternally grateful), we saw many new faces in our stores. The growth of craft beer culture depends in large part on bringing new people into the fold, and spreading the word in both young and established beer communities alike. The Pacific Northwest, for example, has an amazing beer scene, and because of this, it’s an ideal place for a Craft Beer Cellar store. To be clear, we will not be the first to open a beer store/bottleshop there, just as we were not the first to open one here. But our model (and mission) IS special!

Since its inception, Craft Beer Cellar has been about love and education. Love for people, product, and community, and a commitment to educating ourselves and our customers about what we’re/they’re drinking. Over the last three-plus years, our customers have made their voices heard in support of small, local, and independent breweries. We don’t judge those who drink Miller Lite and we don’t judge those who drink Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout, but you won’t find either of them on our shelves. (For those who remain unaware, Goose Island was purchased in-whole by Anheuser-Busch InBev in 2011.) We believe that it is this combination of factors, diverting funds away from the entire MillerCoors and AB-InBev portfolios and into the pockets of small producers, introducing drinkers to traditional and experimental breweries from around the world, and doing it all with tenacity and passion, that makes us a truly unique addition to the craft beer community.

Perhaps the thing that we are most excited about in 2014 and beyond is expanding our role as an information hub and craft beer connection point. We believe that the success of other great brewpubs, bottleshops, and bars is critical to our own growth and the growth of craft beer culture. We are proud of our relationships with breweries and beer industry folk throughout the United States and across the globe. Do you know of a great beer event happening at another shop or bar? A can’t-be-missed festival? A favorite beer blog? Please let us know!

We work in beer, so yeah, we’re living the dream! But we also trying our best to make the world a better place, Craft Beer Cellar Style!

Thank you for making 2013 CRAZYAWESOME!

Cantillon Raffle for Charity!

Do You Know This Man?

Jean Van Roy The FestivalA sports analogy would probably be appropriate here, but it’s hard to think of one that does justice to the man at the helm of Brasserie-Brouwerij Cantillon, one of the world’s most highly regarded breweries. Cantillon’s owner and lead brewer (pictured above) is Jean Van Roy, and we’ve been fortunate enough to meet and speak with him on more than one occasion (most recently at Shelton Brothers and 12% Imports “The Festival“). From a Beer Geek perspective, they just don’t come any cooler than this guy.

To the point: Craft Beer Cellar stores in Massachusetts recently received a shipment of Cantillon beer (our most profound gratitude goes to Shelton Brothers and Craft Brewers Guild). As is often the case with small allocation beer, there are more Beer Geeks than beer :/. It’s a tough problem great opportunity! (Read on!)

Cantillon Raffle for Charity: #BeerGeeksGiveBack

Beginning on Monday, December 2nd and running through Sunday, December 15th, all Craft Beer Cellar stores in Massachusetts will be selling raffle tickets for $1, with each winning ticket guaranteeing the holder the opportunity to purchase a bottle of Cantillon beer. All proceeds from the raffle will be donated to a charity selected by the store. More information about the charities is available at each Craft Beer Cellar location.

The Beer

While each store has a different allocation of beer, the bottles received by the Craft Beer Cellar family are shown below. Those interested are welcome to enter the #BeerGeeksGiveBack raffle as many times as you’d like at all CBC locations.

Cantillon Gueuze is the quintessential Belgian beer – a perfect blend of one, two, and three year-old lambics. Tart and slightly acidic, Cantillon Gueuze is the real champagne of beers. It is fermented only with wild airborne yeasts from the Senne Valley in Brussels and is aged in centuries-old oak casks. It also certified organic in Belgium. A true world classic that will thrill the true beer connoisseur. During the late winter and early spring, the Cantillon family brewers will match and blend one, two, and three-year old lambics to arrive at a balanced texture and flavor. Generally, younger lambic is thinner, livelier, and milder on the palate; the older lambic is harder, more complex, and resoundingly sour. The beer in every cask is unique, however, and one three-year old lambic may taste radically different from another. There is no formula for blending, and no expectation of consistency from year to year. Master brewer Jean-Pierre Van Roy says merely that he hopes to achieve the same “harmony” each time. The artfully blended lambic is bottled immediately, and another wondrous event occurs: the mixture of lambic from several different casks sparks a second fermentation in the bottle. This is the essence of the méthode champenoise by which champagne is made. The end product is called “gueuze.” A few months’ time in the bottle “conditions” the beer – building carbonation, and concentrating and organizing the flavors. Under proper storage conditions, fermentation in the bottle will continue for years.

Cantillon Gueuze is the quintessential Belgian beer – a perfect blend of one, two, and three year-old lambics. Tart and slightly acidic, Cantillon Gueuze is the real champagne of beers. It is fermented only with wild airborne yeasts from the Senne Valley in Brussels and is aged in centuries-old oak casks. It also certified organic in Belgium. A true world classic that will thrill the true beer connoisseur.
During the late winter and early spring, the Cantillon family brewers will match and blend one, two, and three-year old lambics to arrive at a balanced texture and flavor. Generally, younger lambic is thinner, livelier, and milder on the palate; the older lambic is harder, more complex, and resoundingly sour. The beer in every cask is unique, however, and one three-year old lambic may taste radically different from another. There is no formula for blending, and no expectation of consistency from year to year. Master brewer Jean-Pierre Van Roy says merely that he hopes to achieve the same “harmony” each time.
The artfully blended lambic is bottled immediately, and another wondrous event occurs: the mixture of lambic from several different casks sparks a second fermentation in the bottle. This is the essence of the méthode champenoise by which champagne is made. The end product is called “gueuze.” A few months’ time in the bottle “conditions” the beer – building carbonation, and concentrating and organizing the flavors. Under proper storage conditions, fermentation in the bottle will continue for years.

Mamouche is in honour of our mother, Claude Cantillon. As a matter of fact, this is the name which is given to her by her grand-children. Elderflowers, handpicked by the Cantillon team and soaked in two years old Lambic. Beer with evolving flavour. Keep and serve at cellar temperature. To be drunk preferably within ten years after the bottling date.

Mamouche is in honour of our mother, Claude Cantillon. As a matter of fact, this is the name which is given to her by her grand-children. Elderflowers, handpicked by the Cantillon team and soaked in two years old Lambic. Beer with evolving flavour. Keep and serve at cellar temperature. To be drunk preferably within ten years after the bottling date.

“The most famous framboise,” according to beer writer Michael Jackson, and an undisputed World Classic – fully authentic, tart, not sweetened with sugar or syrup like all the rest. Whole fresh raspberries are fermented in oak casks of Belgium’s classic beer – beer fermented by wild yeasts borne on the open air. Very dry, tart, and fruity, but also funky and complex, as a natural lambic should be. This is the real thing – definitely not one of those artificially sweetened soda-pop beers.

“The most famous framboise,” according to beer writer Michael Jackson, and an undisputed World Classic – fully authentic, tart, not sweetened with sugar or syrup like all the rest.
Whole fresh raspberries are fermented in oak casks of Belgium’s classic beer – beer fermented by wild yeasts borne on the open air. Very dry, tart, and fruity, but also funky and complex, as a natural lambic should be. This is the real thing – definitely not one of those artificially sweetened soda-pop beers.

Great beer for great causes. Let’s show the world what we can do when #BeerGeeksGiveBack!

Craft Beer Cellar Westford opens Thursday, October 10th at 10:00am!

IT’S HAPPENING…

CBC Westford

On Thursday, October 10th, 2013 at 10:00am the doors to the brand new Craft Beer Cellar Westford will open. While we iron out details for a “Grand Opening” celebration, we invite you to come visit the newest addition to the Craft Beer Cellar family at your leisure (HOURS & DIRECTIONS). Furthermore, it’s our pleasure to introduce the store’s owner, Walter Miska, with whom we sat down for a couple quick questions (he’s a busy man, y’know ;) ).

Walter Miska: Head Beer Geek CBC Westford

Craft Beer Cellar Westford on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cbcwestford

Craft Beer Cellar Westford on Twitter: @cbc_westford

1. Why did you want to join the Craft Beer Cellar family?

For the last eight years, I owned a completely different small business. I decided that it was time for me to change directions, and take the experience I had gained from running that business and put it into something for which I have a real passion. What could be better for that than craft beer? After spending some time with Kate and Suzanne at Craft Beer Cellar Belmont – I knew that this was the right choice for me.

2. Why is Craft Beer Cellar a good fit for Westford, MA?

I believe that among the many great establishments in the rapidly growing community of Westford, there is a place here for Craft Beer Cellar. We look forward to sharing our love for great beer, and hope that the community will embrace this new shopping experience. Craft Beer Cellar will certainly become an active member of our community and support local activities.

3. What kind of experience should customers look forward to when they visit Craft Beer Cellar Westford?

Customers of Craft Beer Cellar Westford will find a comfortable, welcoming, and clean environment every time they visit. Our Staff Beer Geeks are always ready with a friendly face to share our beer experiences, help with beer selection, and carry your purchase to your car if needed.

4. What are some area attractions that visitors to Craft Beer Cellar Westford should know about?

If you’re looking to extend your beer experience outside of Craft Beer Cellar, we highly recommend British Beer Company across the street. It’s a fantastic bar with many awesome craft beer selections on tap. Other great Westford attractions include the Nashoba Valley Ski Area and Kimball Farms Ice Cream, both located within just a few miles of our store.

5. Can you tell us a little about your family (and yes, pets count)?

I am married to the most amazing women (she must be to be so supporting and encouraging in my entrepreneurial endeavors). Christine really is the secret to my success. She works a Program Manager for BAE Systems. We have 2 terrific kids: Jacob is a freshman in high school, and Alana is in seventh grade. Both of them are excellent students, soccer players, and musicians. I’m a pretty lucky guy – no doubt.

6. Many craft beer drinkers had a ‘gateway beer’ that got them into craft beer. Do you remember when/why you started to drink craft beer?

While I’m not sure I can say exactly when it all started, I would say that my gateway beer was Wachusett Country Pale Ale. I went to college at WPI (as did the founders of Wachusett). After seeing what my fellow alumni were up to, I started to wonder what other beers I was missing out on.

7. In 10 words or less, what does craft beer mean to you?

The enjoyment of experiencing a world of styles and flavors.

So yeah, in case you couldn’t tell, we’re STOKED about the 10/10 at 10am opening for CBC Westford. If we don’t see you in the morning, make sure to swing by from 5-7pm as we host Mystic Brewery out of Chelsea, MA for our first FREE tasting!

Mystic Brewery

Cheers and #madluv,

-CBC

 

Field Trip Fridays: Mayflower Brewing Company

Last Friday, we rounded up the newest members of the Craft Beer Cellar family, CBC Westford, CBC Newton, CBC Braintree, and CBC New England Annex for a trip down to Plymouth, MA and a visit to Mayflower Brewing Company. What follows is a brief recounting of our time and tour, because a.) We were having so much fun that we maybe didn’t take the most diligent notes and b.) YOU NEED TO GET DOWN TO MAYFLOWER BREWING COMPANY, YO!

So with limited commentary, we present to you:

Field Trip Fridays: Mayflower Brewing Company (#CBContour :) )

The key to any successful brewery tour is a pre-tour sampling of the wares. Mayflower IPA, Porter, Pale Ale, Golden Ale and Summer Rye (the last we’ll see of it until next year) were delicious as expected.

Taste the History

Taste the History

Tasting glasses in hand, we enjoyed a thorough, ‘Grain-to-Glass’ tour led Mayflower Founder and President Drew Brosseau. He explained that a recently completed expansion will result in a doubling of production from 2000bbl (previous) to 4000bbl (projected), with the ultimate capacity to brew 8000bbl per year. In short: more Mayflower Brewing Company beer for the people, yay!

Thanks for the tour, Drew!

Thanks for the tour, Drew!

At the bottling line, we were encouraged to hear Drew reiterate Mayflower’s commitment to employee safety. To dispel any rumors, Mayflower doesn’t have plans to begin canning their beer any time soon. We were also introduced to “Otto”, the brewery pup. As you can probably tell, he stole the show.

Mayflower caps

Hi, Otto!

Hi, Otto!

After the tour was complete, we were treated to a special surprise: a vintage Mayflower Brewing Company Thanksgiving Ale from 2011. While this year’s version won’t be available until November, the 2011 vintage had aged remarkably well, exhibiting dark fruit notes and a smooth, woody finish. *Pro tip: get a couple for the cellar!

Can you spot the note?

Can you spot the note?

After a brief stop for pictures, we headed over to a Plymouth landmark (no, not that Plymouth landmark): Driftwood Publick House.

Chef recommends: Driftwood Fries. Pair with: Your favorite Mayflower Brewing Company beer, duh :).

Thanks, Mayflower crew! Read more here: http://mayflowerbrewing.com/staff.php

Thanks, Mayflower crew! Read more here: http://mayflowerbrewing.com/staff.php

Driftwood Fries. 'Nuff said.

Driftwood Fries. ‘Nuff said.

Thank you so much for the invitation, Mayflower Brewing Company!

Beer Geeks: Tell us your favorite Mayflower Brewing Company beer using the ‘Reply’ button below.

 

Recap: Okto-Pumpkin Kashizalapooza

Upcoming Events at Craft Beer Cellar Belmont: CBC Belmont Calendar

Did you spend a relaxing Labor Day Weekend down on the Cape/up in the mountains/chillaxin’ on your couch?

Or did you spend it ROCKIN’ OUT with the Beer Geeks at Craft Beer Cellar Belmont’s First (Annual?) Okto-Pumpkin Kashizalapooza?

Way to pack the house, yo!

What a great turnout!

After holding off on selling pumpkin, Oktoberfest, and fall seasonal beers throughout the summer, we opened the flood gates and welcomed a seemingly endless stream of customers for six hours Sunday.

You. All. Are. The. Best!

The work started late Saturday evening when our fearless leaders Kate and Suzanne magical pumpkin fairies rearranged our entire store to make way for all the new beer. Early Sunday morning, Beer Geeks Adam, Tony, Nate, and Brett picked up where the fairies left off, transforming our little shop into a pumpkin wonderland. When the doors opened at noon, Beer Geek Marguerite poured The Traveler Beer Company’s Jack-O Shandy for thirsty patrons, while Beer Geek Lee provided samples of Wolaver’s Organic Pumpkin Ale, Ithaca Country Pumpkin, and Southern Tier Pumking (complete with cinnamon sugar rims and a splash of Southern Tier Crème Brûlée Stout. Mmmm…).

Southern Tier PumkingVisitors were also introduced to the ladies behind Twitter’s @RATEMYPUMPKINS who poured some of their favorite beers. Craft Beer Cellar is proud to partner with Alexandra and Nicola in the second year of @RATEMYPUMPKINS as they once again sample and review 61 pumpkin beers in 61 days (though we’ll see if we can’t convince them to go a little longer, too!). Though some selections aren’t available locally (it’s nice to have out of state friends, right?), pumpkin beers that are available will be featured daily at the Craft Beer Cellar stores.

Those who attended will also recall the coloring pages designed and curated by beer writer/beer badass Heather Vandenengel. If you colored a page on Sunday, or if you would like to color one this week, we will happily display it on our ‘Wall of Awesome’ (A.K.A. the only wall in the store that isn’t already lined with beer).

Won't you help us fill our wall, please?

Won’t you help us fill our wall, please?

We would also like to send a special shout out to our Belmont Center neighbors, Quebrada Baking Company, whose pumpkin bread was a-maz-ing. If you haven’t stopped at Quebrada before or after a visit to our spot, well, then, we just don’t even know. DO IT!

So in conclusion, the pumpkin, Oktoberfest, and fall seasonals are on the shelves with more coming soon (we’re looking at you, Cambridge Brewing Company Great Pumpkin Ale). But if pumpkin isn’t your thing, we’ve still got roughly 1000!!! others in stock. Come on by, we’re here all month.

Madluv,

-CBC

Okto-Pumpkin Kashizalapooza is coming!

THE LITTLEST BEER STORE
AKA
CRAFT BEER CELLAR BELMONT
AKA
THE MOTHERSHIP
 In conjunction with
END SEASONAL CREEP PRODUCTIONS

 

Presents

 

Okto Pumpkin Kashizalapooza

 

Sunday, September 1st
12pm – 3pm (but we’re here until 6!)
51 Leonard Street, Belmont, MA 02478

 

Do you remember how, during that stretch of what seemed like forty, 90+ degree summer days, everyone was thinking, “I could really go for a tall glass of pumpkin beer right now.”?

 

Yeah. Neither do we.

 

Earlier this summer, the Craft Beer Cellar family decided enough was enough. We wanted #SummerForever (still do, really), and it was in that vein that we decided no pumpkin, fall harvest, or Oktoberfest beer would touch our shelves until September 1st. We took a stand, and you’ve supported us every step of the way.

 

Thank you; now it’s party time.

 

Join us on Sunday, September 1st from 12-3pm for a celebration of all things fall. We’ll have food, fun, pumpkin/Oktoberfest/fall harvest beer tastings, costumes (yes, you can wear yours from last Halloween), COLORING BOOKS (!!!), giveaways, dancing, and more surprises to be announced.
Fall/pumpkin beer isn’t your thing? Come out and stock up on your local and international favorites for Labor Day!

 

Now taking playlist suggestions.
Madluv.
 
If Facebook is your thing, you can keep up with the event details here:

Cellar News: Goodbye and Hello

Anne Vickman

Here I am, enjoying a delicious CBC² Hoppy Hefe at Cambridge Brewing Company (with terrible posture).

Well beer geeks, it’s time for a goodbye and a hello.

As Craft Beer Cellar’s Virtual Frolicking, Social Chemistry, and Brand Hype Manager for the last year, it’s been an absolute pleasure to work and interact with the craft beer community in and around Boston, New England, and beyond. Between blogging, tweeting, beer festing, taste testing, Instagramming, poring over Randy Moser’s Tasting Beer, running 5Ks, and making sure that the delivery day beertography lands in our feeds on a regular basis (among other things), I’ve learned more than I can possibly share in a single blog post. But one thing is certain: I have had an absolute blast.

I’d like to thank everyone I’ve had the opportunity to meet, email, interview, tweet at, talk to, and share beer with. That includes but isn’t limited to the awesome customers, brewers, distributors, bloggers, beer nerds, and writers that make up our local craft beer community.

And of course, it goes without saying, the staff and family that is Craft Beer Cellar. I’m lucky to have worked so closely with Kate and Suzanne, to experience what it’s like to work with people who have such an inspiring passion for what they do. And our other staffers are no exception: I’ll miss working with the most awesomesauce beer (and wine) geeks in all the land! So thanks to all of you for the incomparable raditude. I can safely say that craft beer people are the very best people of all.

Even though I’m moving on from Craft Beer Cellar, I know I’ll continue to nerd out on beer no matter where I am — in this case, Brooklyn, New York. So if anyone finds themselves in the city and wants to share a pint, by all means let me know; I’m on the Twitter machine @AnneVickman.

And with that I’d like to introduce and welcome our new social media guru, Lee Movic. This guy is gonna kick things into high gear around here in the best possible way…so stay tuned for Part II: The Hello.

Cheers, everyone!