A new location of the craft beer-focused WhichCraft Beer Store is going to offer much more than bottles and cans to go when it debuts in early summer this year.
Opening in the Mueller area next to Bribery Bakery, the second WhichCraft will have 25 or 30 taps to carry draft beers that aren’t always found in packaged format — as well as an expanded roster of beer tastings, beer and food pairings, and beer education classes that simply aren’t possible at the flagship location on South Lamar Boulevard.
Having a selection of draft beers was always a goal of WhichCraft owner Jody Reyes, who wanted to make sure there was enough demand for a craft beer-only bottle shop before making the leap to anything else.
“The opening of WhichCraft One has been fantastic and has proven the concept that we can have an extremely craft beer-only retail store,” Reyes said. “But we always wanted to have draft because we can do more events, and it gives more people a reason to visit on a regular basis. They get to hang out in more of a community atmosphere… This is the next iteration of helping customers take the next step in their craft beer journey, as I like to say.”
He chose the 1,750 sq. ft. space, in the row of mixed-use businesses beneath the AMLI at Mueller at 1900 Simond Ave., because of the surrounding neighborhood. “I love that area,” he said. “It’s up-and-coming, which means there’s not a ton of things for residents to do. We want it to be a neighborhood hangout for them.”
The second WhichCraft will draw them in, he said, with the continued focus on a curated cans and bottles selection and the new 25 to 30 taps. The store will also have light bites, coffee and seating.
Because of all the packaged beer, Reyes said he’s freed up to offer rarer or more experimental brews on the tap wall.
“We won’t have to tie up half a dozen taps with kind of the standard styles that a lot of bars have to have,” he said. “That’ll let us focus on more exciting stuff.”
Despite the coming changes with the second WhichCraft — which he hopes to open in June — a lot about the store will remain the same, including the beer-loving staff who put together bottle recommendations, mystery bags of beer and other fun things that continually bring in new and returning customers.
“One of the things that I think we get a lot of notoriety for, rightly so, is a great staff: well-trained, very knowledgeable, eager to help and very outgoing,” he said. “That’s something that won’t be different at WhichCraft Two. That kind of outreach and education has been important in helping us build this concept of being a specialty shop.”
Design-wise, he said, the store also won’t change much, although now he’s able to afford a professional architecture and design firm, OPA Design Studio, to bring the second location to life. OPA was the visionary behind Twisted X Brewing and, most recently, Live Oak Brewing, and proprietor Stephen Oliver, Reyes said, “understands the craft beer industry and the experience we’re trying to create.”
For WhichCraft, that’s a simple but irresistible one.
“We’re going to take the best elements of this store and add on a draft and growler business,” Reyes said. “You wouldn’t believe how many times people come in and say, ‘It’s like a candy store in here!’ Which is great. That’s what we’re going for here and at WhichCraft Two as well.”