From the unfinished concrete floors and walls spotted with exposed brick to the retro lighting and exposed ductwork, Craft Beer Cellar in Clayton gives off a cool, industrial vibe. Upon stepping inside, employees enthusiastically greet customers by saying, “Hey! Have you been here before?” Signs around the store refer to shoppers as “yo,” as in, “That a way, yo!” and “Kegs, yo!” The shop has a youthful, approachable atmosphere, which is exactly what brothers Brandon and Ryan Nickelson were aiming for.
“We say we’re not in the retail business, we’re in the hospitality business,” Ryan says. “We want to make sure everyone who comes in the door is treated warmly and [is] given a tour of the shop. Some people come in here knowing exactly what they want, but the vast majority don’t know what they want and just need help.”
What’s happening at Craft Beer Cellar is sort of revolutionary in the St. Louis area: The store only sells craft beer, according to the Brewers Association definition, carrying 800 beers from about 200 craft breweries from St. Louis and around the world. Customers can come in and make their own pack of beer, from two-packs up to 12-packs, using anything stocked on store shelves. “We give people the freedom to make a mix out of absolutely anything they want,” Ryan says. “They can break any pack; they can open any box and take just one bottle or one can. To me and Brandon, that’s a fun way to shop for beer. The ability to try a bunch of things at one time rather than buy a big six-pack of something you might not like is a lot more fun because really, the best way to find that thing you like is to try it. It gives you the freedom to try things you would have overlooked as well.”
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Craft Beer Cellar, 8113 Maryland Ave., Clayton, 314.222.2444 craftbeercellar.com/clayton
BREWERY BUYS AT CRAFT BEER CELLAR:
| 1 | Enjoy your next turkey sandwich with the bold flavor of Sierra Nevada’s Porter & Spicy Brown Mustard, which is livened up by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.’s famous Porter. | 2 | The shop stocks a nice selection of local brewery merchandise, like this stemware from 4 Hands Brewing Co., as well as sunglasses, T-shirts, books and more. | 3 | “Evil Twin Brewing’s Ryan and the Beaster Bunny is the best beer in the shop,” Ryan says. “But, I could be biased since it’s named Ryan,” he laughs. Then he stops, looking around at other bottles fondly and reassesses. “In my opinion, it’s one of the top five beers in the shop.”