Beer Me: Belly Up to the Bar at Our Favorite Bottle Shops

Beer Me: Belly Up to the Bar at Our Favorite Bottle Shops

The top beer stores in Durham, as chosen by our readers


To me, the best part about our local bottle shops is the fact that so many of them are also a bar where you can sample flights and pints before making your selections to take home. Most also have selections of cider, wine, mead, even kombucha, for folks who prefer those beverages. But I am here for the beer.

I was first introduced to Beer Study in Chapel Hill – a narrow, hip bottle shop on North Graham Street. So I was thrilled when I learned that they’d be opening a Durham spot in Rockwood Shopping Center last year, and that Starpoint Brewing – then based in Carrboro – would be coming with them. It’s super pup-friendly, and every time I come in I’m greeted by either pug Layla, who “runs the place,” or Hobbes, Head Brewer Nikko Carlson’s dog who sports an adorable underbite. Starpoint Brewing was founded by Beth Boylan and Tim Harper “as a labor of love for hoppy beers,” which means plenty incredible IPAs are always on tap. The Surfin’ Buddha is my go-to, or I get the DUH! double IPA after a long workweek. Last time I was in, fellow beer lovers Alex Adams and Carl Stephens clued me into DigitalPour, which displays all three dozen or so beers on tap in the shop, but is also a downloadable app, so you can see what’s available or new – and how much is left in the keg – before you come down. Forever a Weihenstephan Hefeweizen enthusiast, right now I’m all about the limited-edition collaboration between the oldest brewery in the world and arguably the most well-known craft brewery in America, Sierra Nevada: Braupakt. Go ahead and order a liter!

Known as The Blue Light to Durham longtimers, Sam’s Quik Shop has been around for 70 years. I’ve been buying beer there for only the last seven, typically grabbing a pint of Pernicious from Wicked Weed (it’s always one of the 42 taps, and last time I was there, $1 from the price of each draft went to benefit the Animal Protection Society of Durham – an added bonus!), hanging out with friends on their patio during the evenings or with my laptop during the days, petting a few pups brought in by other patrons (yep, it’s dog-friendly, too) before making my six-pack selection and heading home. These days, I usually leave with El Chavo – the perfect blend of sweet and spicy with habanero pepper, mango and apples – by Blake’s Hard Cider. Cheers to Mattie Beason of Black Twig Cider House for turning me on to this delicious drink years ago!

Sam’s Bottle Shop is under the same ownership as the Quik Shop, and I think of it as the younger, flashy, South Durham brother to the original Sam’s (it opened in 2014). Two stories tall, there are two bars with 28 taps between them to order from, but one is upstairs, where you can grab your brew – I like anything that’s local; if Foothills Hoppyum is on tap, that’s my order – and walk across the bridge that overlooks the first floor, with its shelves packed with hundreds of different kinds of beer, to the outside patio, overlooking N.C. 54.

These bottle shops all have a few things in common – they are pet-friendly, have some of the best selections of bottles in the area, the staff are super knowledgeable about beer and don’t mind giving recommendations, and, if you’re a regular, they treat you more like family than a customer. Spread out across Durham, they’re more neighborhood bars than retail shops, but you can still get that six-pack to go. Win-win.


Barley Labs serves up my dog, Olive’s, favorite treats and my favorite local beers. Not only do they provide dog beds and hooks under the bar for the end of dog leashes, but they have fun trivia and movie nights and six-packs to go. Human and dog recommended!

Jessica Stringer, editor, Chapel Hill Magazine


Chanel Chambers, Ariyah Chambers April, J. Lee Ariansen Teixeira and Alex Teixeira catch up over a pint in The Glass Jug Beer Lab’s beer garden. Photo by Briana Brough

The Glass Jug has been around for close to four years, but an expansion this year brought with it a nanobrewery and outdoor beer garden. The Glass Jug Beer Lab boasts more than 20 taps, with a few dedicated to their own small-batch, experimental beers. I’m glad to see that owners Chris and Katy Creech, homebrewers themselves long before they launched The Glass Jug, are getting back to their roots with this new spot, still in the Greenwood Commons Shopping Center. While the draft list is always changing, you simply have to try one of their own unconventional beers, like the Tomatillo and Lemon Basil Pi Gose with tomatillo, lemon basil and sea salt that was on tap when we visited. It’s also one of the few places I’ve seen Unibroue’s La Fin du Monde on tap. If you’re a fan of Belgians, this is a classic.