I like beer.  I really, really like beer.  I like it after a long day of work on a hot day. I like it with friends and family at barbecues or when I sit down to watch a football game. I like it as the perfect complement to a well cooked meal.

I like beer more ways than Sam-I-Am likes green eggs and ham.

As a result, I appreciate the fact that I can pick up a cold beer just about anywhere.  The gas station on just about any corner in America can fill your need for a cold one in a pinch. The downside here is that your choices are generally limited to cheap and watery domestic brands that are about thirteen flavors below exciting. For more adventurous tastes, you can venture over to the import and microbrew section of the grocery store. Obviously, the better stores have the better the selections but they tend to feature the same brands every week and are mostly limited to what the big-time beer distributors see fit to promote.

This is all well and good. I am not such a beer snob that I will turn my nose up at a fridge full of Pabst Blue Ribbon on Football Sunday Funday and as long as my local Ingles or Publix does not run out of Sierra Nevada, Stella Artois, or SweetWater  420, I am a relatively happy camper.  What I prefer, however, is not beer shopping and consumption but a beer adventure.

We have recently discovered The Community Tap in Greenville and the adventure is officially a weekly event in our life. 

The Community Tap is a small store on the outskirts of downtown Greenville that offers a fantastic selection of craft beers and specialty wines. Here you can find brands and flavors beyond your imagination that you will not find anywhere else in The Upstate. The owners Mike and Ed are friendly folk that do not just know about the beer they sell, they love it.

The first time my wife and I visited The Community Tap, we were the proverbial kids in a candy store. “Look at this!”, “Check that out!” and “I can’t believe they sell this here!” was the sum of our conversation for our first thirty minutes in the store. Naturally, this was followed by a lengthier discussion based on the question, “So what are we going to get?”

Do we commit to a six-pack of something we know we like but cannot find anywhere else? Do we buy a sample batch of mixed 12-ounce bottles? Do we forgo the beer and get a nice bottle of wine to share with dinner? Any of these decisions would have been good ones but instead we went in a slightly different direction.

Growlers are a great invention. For just a few bucks you purchase a giant beer bottle with a fancy The Community Tap logo on its face. Once you own said bottle, you fill it up every time you are in the area with a new and exciting flavor from their row of beer taps. We bought the smaller bottle so for $6-10 we fill up our growler with a great new taste to accompany one special dinner once or twice a week.

My only complaint to this style of purchase is not the fault of The Community Tap but the backward alcohol regulation in South Carolina. For reasons that I cannot understand, it is illegal for them to offer a sample of the beers on tap to aid in your selection. I can walk into a bar and ask for a sample of a particular draft beer before I consume one or more before I hop in my car and drive away.  For some reason, though, I cannot enjoy the same luxury if I am purchasing beer to consume in the privacy of my own home. Go figure.

Having said this, the good people at The Community Tap have more than enough knowledge to overcome this minor inconvenience. They have ten taps that are in constant rotation but they seem to be able to describe each one as if they have been drinking it all their lives.  Their descriptions of the beers are a more than adequate substitute for an actual taste of the brews on tap.

Our first visit we left with a growler full of Gulden Draak from Belgium which was a great mate to the stuffed pepper dinner Chris prepared that evening.  The next week I left with a Grand Teton Double IPA based solely on the description of the young lady behind the counter that day. She had given me lengthy, detailed descriptions of several of my options but this one she keep short and sweet; “The Grand Teton is a double IPA and is bad to the bone”.  Sold! 

As of this morning, our growler is filled up with “Thirsty Dog Bourbon Barrel Aged Siberian Night Russian Imperial Stout.”  The name alone prompted me to ask about it to which Ed replied “Do you like bourbon? Do you like stout?”  The answer is a huge yes to both questions, so I left with a growler full of awesome that eagerly awaits us in the refrigerator as I type this.

I cannot wait to continue to explore everything else The Community Tap has to offer. If I can pull myself away from the constantly changing flavors on tap, there are quite a few bottled options that have definitely caught my eye. At some point I might even find the time or occasion to dive into their wine offerings. My liver is going to hate me but my taste buds could not be happier.

FINAL NOTE: Check out The Community Tap at The Albino Skunk Music Festival October 6-9. The best beer store in town sets up shop at” The Greatest Show On Dirt”. Why would you miss this?
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