Tapped in Brass
I frequently find myself writing about the status of the craft beer industry here in Myrtle Beach, and that should come as no surprise given that our area has and continues to experience incredible growth. Sure, a new bar opening means a new place to drink, but for the area, the success of that bar means so much more. The more successful they become, the more we, as craft beer drinkers, will continue to support that expansion in the desire for that next new, exciting brew to be put on tap. The spot that is ready to try and meet those needs has arrived, and it’s in the form of The Brass Tap Craft Beer Bar located on Deville Street at The Market Common.
Since the introduction of the Facebook page for The Brass Tap, I began to watch closely as the building process unfolded, then on to the countdown, hiring and training, and finally, to opening day. On Monday, January 11, The Brass Tap opened its doors and after one day’s grace, I was in the house for day two.
In order to experience this bar organically, I limited myself to only the information that was available on the Facebook page. I wanted to make sure I could form some real and honest opinions.
It feels cozy- warm with rich burgundy paint and deep browns. It’s a darker atmosphere than your typical sports bar, and while there are TVs and there are sports to watch, front and center is the bar and OH what a bar. With spotlights pointing you to the stainless wall of tap handles ready to pour, it is very clear that here, it’s all about beer.
The advance knowledge that I did know was the name of the franchise owner, Jaimal Patel, so I did arrange to meet with him prior to my visit. When I got there a little early, I decided to grab something from the bar. How impressed I was to have a little trouble deciding if I wanted hoppy or stouty- I grabbed an Alpine Hoppy Birthday Pale Ale (Alpine Beer Company, CA) and of course the very first thing Jaimal said when we met was “what are you drinking?”
“How did you get involved with brass tap and why pick Myrtle Beach?” I asked. Jaimal says: “I’m from Charlotte, but I visit Myrtle Beach pretty often. I know that craft beer is really popular in the area, it’s growing. My cousin is part of several down and Florida and in North Carolina, the Charlotte location is where I started out training. I was the GM there and having been around Myrtle Beach, my business partners and I knew it would be a good place to expand.”
Everyone knows that The Market Common has an excellent craft atmosphere all by itself with Gordon Biersch, Tupelo Honey, and the Pig, but I really wondered how The Brass Tap will affect the rest of the craft beer community and how they plan to get involved with it. My impression though of Jaimal is that he is working to make himself no stranger to the already established craft brew hotspots. “I like Atlas Taphouse a lot, I’ve been there a few times and Aaron (Atlas owner) is fantastic guy and doing great things with beer in the area – they’ve got a great atmosphere. I think we can really grow with the area by creating more exposure for craft beer, especially the North Carolina and South Carolina Breweries. We will be having Thursday Pint nights that feature NC and SC breweries because we know that the community loves to support local.”
Jaimal seems like the passionate beer lover, so I had to ask, “What’s your favorite beer and what was your ‘gateway beer’ that got you started with craft?” Of course he gave the right answer when he said “I can’t really decide. I’m a hop-head, but I love sours, and stouts. I love it all really. I got started when my friends and I went to The Flying Saucer in Raleigh, NC and I tried the Foothills Seeing Double IPA (Foothills Brewing Company, Winston-Salem, NC). The intensity of it was appealing.” Having a passion for many different styles plays in the to role that Jaimal plans to have in his ownership role at here in Myrtle Beach. “I’m really looking forward to interacting with the customers. While we have something for everyone, I’m looking forward to helping new customers build flights to try to expand their knowledge and create new craft beer lovers.” As for the 59 taps, “Yes, they are actually brass. We have 59 beer lines and one on CO2 for growler fills.” Because yes! They do growler fills!!
Aside from the beer, when you drink good beer, good food should come right along with it. While I’m no food critic, I can tell you this much: the food at The Brass Tap is stellar. Tuesdays, for example, feature $2 tacos during happy hour, with the option of signature beef, chicken, or fish. The Nachos are full of nacho cheesy goodness, jalapeños, and lots of beef, and the shrimp, eggroll, and fried potsticker sampler plate was divine. On second thought, can I eat dinner there every night?
Based on my initial experience at TBT, once a “usual” crowd gets in place, and they weather the first storm of the tourist season, I really do think that they have the potential to make a permanent and lasting mark on the community.
I also had the privilege of speaking with Chris Elliot, CEO of the company that holds the franchise licensing for The Brass Tap. He thinks that the Myrtle Beach location is ideal because of the extremely active visitor season. When speaking with Chris, I did make it point to let him know that while Myrtle Beach has a very impactful tourist season, it is also home to a fiercely loyal crowd on beer enthusiasts, of which I am privileged to be a part of. Currently, The Brass Tap is on trend to expand. Beginning with 3 locations in the Florida area, in 2012 the original founders sold the franchising rights, and has since become a craft beer focused force of 33 locations including Myrtle Beach with an additional 17 locations set to open in 2016.
Chris says “Each location has the freedom to seek out and become involved with the community that it’s a part of, especially those that are passionate about craft beer. It’s an expectation to build that relationship.” I asked him about their target audience as well, and the answer did come as a bit of a surprise to me, being that I fit in to the initial demographic. “We started out aiming to appeal to the millennial crowd, but quickly found that we have a lot of the baby boomers who love to experience new craft beers.”
When asked how he feels Brass Tap will fit in to the Myrtle Beach craft beer community, he thought it was an excellent fit. “When looking to expand in to South Carolina, we looked at the places that people like our target audience wanted to go and visit. Myrtle Beach, of course, is one of the top destinations. We expect a strong seasonal crowd, but also a strong and healthy relationship with the local crowd as well.” To appeal even further to the local or craft beer connoisseur crowd, they have a bottle selection of between 150 to 250 beers which includes may coveted brews as well as barrel aged options.
While 25 of those tap lines are what he referred to as “static” lines, which are things like Guinness or Stella, the overall focus is to constantly rotate the remaining 34 lines and to appeal to the craft beer enthusiast. Yes, we, the craft beer obsessors, are the prime target, and The Brass Tap feels that by being a part of the Myrtle Beach craft beer community, they can only help expand the presence of craft beer. They hope the availability will only help to increase the draw and appeal to breweries that aren’t yet in our state or distribution areas to become part of the Myrtle Beach Family.
I have just one response to that ambition: Mr. Owner Jaimal and Mr. CEO Chris, Welcome to the Myrtle Beach craft beer community. We look forward to your success!