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!
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.”
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.
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.