The Glass Jug will be expanding the reach of their craft beverage store by adding an on-site micro brewery and beer garden. To facilitate the expansion, The Glass Jug will be relocating into a larger space with a grassy back yard which will accommodate outdoor seating and regular food truck visits.
One of the biggest challenges facing any retail store where beer sits on the shelves is avoiding beer becoming light-struck, or "skunked." [symple_heading style="" title="What is skunky beer?" type="h3" font_size="" text_align="left" margin_top="30" margin_bottom="30" color="undefined" icon_left="" icon_right=""]
Beer that has been skunked is simply a beer that has come in contact with UV rays, which causes alpha acids (the chemical compound in hops that adds bitterness to your beer) to break down and create a sulfur-based chemical (3-methyl-2-butene-1-thiol). That produces a mercaptan smell that can be off-putting. It smells (and even tastes, to a smaller extent) like skunk.
In fact, the chemical created in this process is almost identical to what you find in skunk spray.
Note that light is the only thing that can skunk a beer. Storing beer at room temperature or changing the temperature of a beer from warm to cold will not skunk a beer, though these are common misconceptions (and still probably not ideal for your beer).
Beer that is in clear bottles has no UV protection, and green bottles only block about 20% of the UV rays, which means that these beers, if left under sunlight or fluorescent light, will start to become skunked within a day. Brown bottles, however, protect against about 98% of UV rays, and canned or kegged beers block out 100% of UV rays.
Thus, the issue that bottle shops face. They need beer to be out on the shelves, and they need light for people to see. At The Glass Jug, we're taking a few measures to help prolong the shelf-life of our bottled beer inventory and help you, our customers, be more confident in the quality of the product you are purchasin, and avoid opening up a beer that smells like a skunk.
[symple_heading style="" title="What are we doing?" type="h3" font_size="" text_align="left" margin_top="30" margin_bottom="30" color="undefined" icon_left="" icon_right=""]
For starters, our space has a great wall of windows in the front of the store. We like this, as it makes the store feel warm and inviting. So to keep this atmosphere without putting any beer in danger, you'll notice that we never store any beer in the very front of the shop. That area will be reserved for seating and enjoying beer. Also, due to the orientation of our space, we will never see direct sunlight come in through these front windows. We are also going through lengths in laying out the store to make sure that the beer closest to the windows are in cans, or at the very least, brown bottles.
So, while we can't (and wouldn't want to) turn off the sun, we can fix the larger issue that most retail stores face - fluorescent light. Our space, as it sits now, has lots of fluorescent light fixtures, so we're going to rip them all out. Let's be real - fluorescent light kinda sucks anyway, even if it didn't skunk your beer.
We will be replacing all of the fluorescent light fixtures with brand new LED fixtures. This is better for the environment, more energy efficient, longer lasting, and produces very little UV rays, of which only a very tiny percentage are emitted.
The goal is to light our space in a way that is still warm and inviting, without worry of compromising the quality of any of the beer you come to buy. And, obviously, we think it's pretty cool that it's more energy efficient and good for the environment.
Being green has always been a priority for Katy and I. So naturally, so we want our business to be environmentally friendly, as well. The great thing about serving beer in growlers is that it's already inherently green. You only need to purchase a few growlers and you can reuse them many times, which dramatically cuts down on waste as compared to traditional bottles and cans. And, if you ever tire of your trusty growler, it's recyclable (as are beer bottles and cans)! As far as growlers go, one big question people ask is whether we'll only fill growlers with our own logo on them. But we figure, "Why create more waste when we know many of you already have a perfectly good growler sitting at home?" We are focused on growler filling, not selling growlers themselves. While we will have some (pretty awesome) growlers available for purchase, we will fill any clean growler you bring in.
We are also doing some really great things with the upfit of our space to be kind to the earth. Yesterday, I spent the day over at Braeburn Farms. Why? I was busy picking out a stack of reclaimed wood from a 100 year old barn. This wood will eventually be used as the front of our bar (and maybe some other places throughout the store), and trust me, it's going to look awesome. A BIG BIG thank you to the generous folks at Braeburn for letting us have this lumber for free. And an especially huge thank you to Jonathan Romm for crawling through the wood pile with me and helping to find the best, most interesting pieces, and cutting them to size.
Also, on Saturday, I took a drive up to the beautiful countryside of Virginia where my (very generous) uncle had set aside some cherry boards he had cut from a fallen tree in his yard a couple years ago. These are fantastic hardwood planks - I mean really fantastic, heavy, high quality boards. They will soon be cleaned up, plained, sanded, and sealed to be used as a gorgeous bar top for you to set your beer on while at The Glass Jug. And there look to be enough pieces with a live edge that we can use that on the front of the bar, which will give it a great look.
We are so thankful for everyone who has donated materials, and building this very custom bar ourselves will make it even more special.
Additionally, a lot of the equipment we'll be using (outside of the draft beer serving equipment) is used equipment purchased from other businesses. So far, this includes our sinks, table legs, a walk-in cooler, and some chairs. This list will likely grow as we get closer to the grand opening.
While we know our efforts are a mere drop in the proverbial bucket, we hope to continue making strides to do our part in caring for our planet, all while enjoying delicious hand-crafted local beer!
Ok, enough hippy tree hugging for one day. ;)
Designing a store can be overwhelming. There are so many details and things to consider. And what if we make a poor decision and are stuck with a layout that doesn't work well for us our our customers? But designing a store is also exciting. Having (almost) total control of the layout and being able to plan for all of the little things that are going to make it feel more welcoming and enjoyable for our customers is a lot of fun.
In all honesty, we have found a great location (more about that in a later blog post) and a space that is already laid out so we don't have to do much (relatively) to make it work. But all of the small details add up, and we're trying to pay attention to each one to make it really awesome.
- The bar will be built long enough to have room for several people to sit comfortably at the bar, and there will be a separate counter section for retail purchases. The goal is to avoid the awkward experience of squeezing between people sitting at the bar to order drinks and pay your tab and to make it easy for folks who just want to stop in quickly and grab some beer to go.
- Almost all our tables will be high-top, oversized cocktail tables, allowing up to 4 people to sit comfortably at each and accommodate standing. We think this will go a long way to help the flow when we're crowded. We will also have one or two standard-height tables to accommodate handicapped guests and others who will be more comfortable at a standard height table.
- We're making room for retail shopping away from the seating area, so you don't have to squeeze between tables to get to the beer on the shelves.
- There are two bathrooms, so hopefully you won't have to wait in line very long, even when we're busy.
- We're adding a (very small) walk-in cooler, big enough to keep a handful of kegs cold. This means that if we run out of a beer, we can easily and quickly swap it out without having to wait 24 hours for the next keg to cool down to serving temperature.
- All of the lighting will either be LED or have UV filters installed, helping to prevent any of the beer on our shelves from getting light-struck and skunky.
- With so many beer styles out there, we know it will be hard to implement an organization structure ideal for every customer. We're planning our shelving layout to make it as easy as possible to find the beer you're looking for, and it's a priority of ours to have clear signage.
Below is a quick snap snot of the preliminary plans. Let us know what you think or what features you most enjoy about a craft beer store/bar, as some things are still a bit fluid at this point!
Also, here's a photo that Richard Mitchell snapped for us at the space. A true "before" shot.