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Thinking differently about beer

August 3, 2011

Beer Table is a new concept in the world of beer, it’s a bar with a difference.

Located in my neighborhood-Park Slope, Brooklyn- it takes beer to a new level.

It’s a place where beer is savored, nurtured and there’s many a story to tell about the process and story of each brand served.These are rare American and European brands that you’ve never encountered before, together with prices that are different from your pitcher specials.

It seems much more like a wine bar, than a bar.

Importantly, it’s not about branding in the traditional sense, instead it’s about getting to the story and the real differences between beer experiences.

It’s interesting to see beer elevated to such a form where it’s being treated like wine- this is perhaps indicative of the increasing levels of sophistication we are applying to what we eat and drink.

This could be happening, because the margin of difference between an average experience and a unique one isn’t so great- learning about beers and drinking a couple of new ones at Beer Table might cost the same as experiencing a session of five or six domestic brews at your local bar, but one experience you are likely to remember and the other you probably won’t.

For the beer business especially imports- this might represent an opportunity to go beyond the typical standard import and to find some newer more “batch” products to bring over- for domestic brewers to recognize shifting tastes amongst certain demographics and to learn how”craft brews’ could evolve and be positioned in new ways.

Back to Beer Table, I heard they were up to something new, opening a new store in Manhattan, so I pinged the founder- Justin Phillips, to learn a little more.

1. What’s the mission/vision of Beer Table?

We believe beer is a significant beverage that can be presented as an integral part of a dining experience.  Our mission is to offer a fresh perspective on this ancient beverage, sharing our passion with our customers for its history, its relevance on the table, and on its consumption in general.  We strive to present the sensual qualities of beer rather than emphasizing branding or style classifications.  We want to provide our customers access to beer made with integrity and we strive to serve it with humility, knowledge, and good humor.

2. What’s the new Manhattan store about?

Beer Table Pantry will be very small shop where I’ll sell a quickly rotating selection of about 65-100 bottles, 6 draft beer lines for growler fills, and a selection of pantry items to accompany the beer (vinegars, pickles, mustards, dried goods, canned goods, baked goods, etc.).  Half of the space will be refrigerated, giving customers the option of either taking their beer cold, or taking it at room temperature, depending on how soon they intend to consume it.

I’m really just referring to it as the “Pantry”, so that those who already know the “Table”, can consider this an extension of my Brooklyn location, in retail form.  Of course, its official name is Beer Table / Pantry.  I’m featuring items that I see as necessities in a well-stocked home pantry, and that I’d include in my dream pantry.  The hope is that the shop will feel a little like a residential kitchen.  Most significantly, I’m always trying to relate beer to food.  This is why I use the words table and pantry in my branding.

The “Pantry” idea is just a great business and branding opportunity- it gets Beer Table out beyond the confines of Brooklyn and gives a huge number of commuters the opportunity to sample some really interesting brews.

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