Thursday, 17 November 2011 17:15

Beer Quest – Series #1: Charleston Beer Exchange

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Imagine a beer store that offers over 900 bottles and 9 rotating taps filling growlers!  

With a selection containing excellent Belgian Strong Pale Ales like Delirium Tremens, limited brews like Dogfish Head Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew, collaborative beers such as BrewDog Mikkeller Devine Rebel 2010, sweet stouts from the south like Duck-Rabbit Milk Stout, English ales like Gale’s Prize Old Ale 1998, Belgian IPA’s like Houblon Chouffe, Stone’s Vertical Epic series, winter dark ales such as Jolly Pumpkin Noel de Calabaza and 30 different beers from Sierra Nevada alone, there WILL be something to please your pallet.

 

The Charleston Beer Exchange is an extensive beer specialty boutique tucked into a side street in historic downtown Charleston.  On my first trip to the city, one of my first stops (besides JFK’s old office in a civil war mansion overlooking Fort Sumter – drinking moonshine) was the CBX.  I actually gasped and suddenly didn’t know where to look first: the growler station, the wooden walls of domestic craft beer or the import section.  I found myself walking in circles, grabbing beers along the way and dropping them off at the counter….muttering “thank God they ship.”

 

They host their own beer festivals (Brewvival) and rare keg growler fills with the likes of Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch Weasel , a beer so extraordinary, it contains coffee made from droppings of finicky mongoose -like civetcats.

If you become a regular, you can also receive rewards within their Exchange Club. It’s free to join and after enrolling you are on your way to earning points for your purchases.  Receive 4,000 points and get your very own private tasting for you and 10 of your friends!

Check out this interview with the guys at the store (Scott, Rich & Brandon):

1.    How old is the Charleston Beer Exchange? Opened 11/15/08 IMG_2053

2. How did you come up with the idea of a beer store? What is your background? We have a combined total of 20 years of experience in retail and a huge passion for Craft Beer. We figured we'd give it a shot at opening the beer store we'd been dreaming about, and it's been a blast ever since!

3. What are your guidelines in which beers you carry and why? We strive to stock items that aren't typically found at non-specialty stores. Frequently folks will walk in and exclaim that they don't recognize a single beer. We also focus on stocking full lines of brewery products. Maybe you've seen 2-3 beers from say, Mikkeller, we stock 20+. Of course we are always aware of seasonal and new release items. There is no fear in stocking more obscure or esoteric items that might need a little research and hand-selling to move.

IMG_20564. What is the most sought after beer you’ve been asked for? Naturally we are asked about brewery-only releases year round: Dark Lord, Westvleteren, Black Tuesday, etc. The answer to this question is also a moving target, whatever has recently been released or is receiving a lot of press will be demanded. I would imagine that Pliny the Elder is probably the most requested beer that we will probably never be able to get our hands on.

5. What is the one beer you personally were surprised to get your hands on and carry in your store (and/or) what are the top beers you wanted to offer? As far as getting our hands on, The De Struise beers, the entire range (in stock right now with the exception of the wild Pannepot) of Pannepot. COAST bottlings are very rare and hardly available outside of Charleston. Twelve Percent Imports beers are of note as well, The Evil Twin and Stillwater beers are made in obnoxiously small quantities, we are always happy to have a selection of those on the shelf!

6. Which countries are represented in your store? Lots! Canada, England, Scotland, Ireland, New Zealand, Italy, Czech Republic, Malta, Sweden, Switzerland, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Japan, Germany, Austria, Australia, Mexico, Brazil, France, Belgium, Sri Lanka, Poland, Kenya, Lithuania, Holland, Russia, Estonia, Spain, Vietnam and of course the USA! IMG_2059

7. How would your regular customer describe the Beer Exchange? Hopefully, a mind-boggling selection, meticulously organized and staffed by guys who are knowledgeable and friendly enough to remove all intimidation.

8. You have another store, where is that and how old is it? Greenville SC, opened 12/31/10.

IMG_20609. What are your favorite beers/breweries? It always varies, we feel that there is plenty of awesome beer out there and tend to focus on whatever the situation or mood calls for. Our local breweries continue to impress us and promise some very exciting things to come!

10. Any plans to keep expanding? Of course! We dream big and hope to unveil some big news soon!

It’s hard to choose whether the hallmark of this beer oasis is their service or their selection.  I’ll just say it’s both.

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