Beverage consumed while writing: Civil Life American Brown Ale in a can.
You can go into any gas station in America and pickup a six pack. But that’s about as fun as filling up the gas tank. No thanks.
For me, I’m finding the hunt for my next beer purchase as fun as the drinking. I’m serious. I now find it cathartic to peruse the rows of colorful labels, mentally sorting out which brewery I’ve tried, which ones I have not and which ones I’m discovering for the first time. For me it’s as relaxing as a beach chair.
In St. Louis, beer lovers have many great options, but is there one that we can truthfully say is the best? That’s a big task, but not too big for the beer guzzlers at Men’s Journal Magazine, who recently took on the grand task of searching for the 50 best beer stores in America.
According to the article, they looked at stores with a healthy stock and reputation for championing craft beer. Then, they looked at selection, service, events, outreach, and even how beer is stored. And their winner in Missouri: Lukas Wine & Spirits Superstore.
“We truly are a destination for micro, macro and import brew fans not just in the Greater St. Louis area, but from all around the country,” said Jonathan Lane, general manager or Lukas. “We prides ourselves on having the best possible selection for the customer as well as having the knowledge to back it up.”
Part of the fun of shopping at Lukas is striking up conversations with the staff. They don’t pretend to know it all, who could? But they do give you the impression that they are selling you what they love to drink.
So what did Men’s Journal see that made them pick Lukas? We think there are three good reasons.
#1. Flow. The beer department has a flow to it that makes it easy to navigate. Beers are grouped together by brewery or country allowing people to not only know where to look for their favorite brewery, but perhaps also learn what else that state or country has to offer. “I don’t feel like we have a unique setup, but we don’t utilize a confusing shelf set of an alphabetical or stylistic approach, which to me can frustrate beer customers,” said Lane.
#2. Selection. One of the most fun ways to buy beers these days is to make your own six pack, which means stores have allow for cases of beer to be broken up and sold by the bottle. This is tough for many stores to tackle, as I’ve seen selection sizes vary from place to place. But Lukas has fully embraced the practice and about to expand it.
“Our new items rack is front and center when customers enter the Beer Department showing off the newest, and in some cases, the most sought after beers hitting the local market,” said Lane. “We have a wall dedicated to the macro brews for customers needing an oldie but goody. The only struggle we really have is how to expand this shining star without infringing on the other departments.”
The Lukas’ beer guys have tried 99% of their inventory and while they generally agree on certain staff favorites, each has their own favorites, and these are reflected in the beers they offer for sale.
#3. Lighting. Truthfully, I did not know the full impact that lighting inside a store had on beer. Luckily, Lukas does.
“When we were still at our old store, we realized that the U.V. rays given off by fluorescent lights were harmful to not only the products we sell, but the customers and staff shopping for those products,” remembers Lane. “Due to the intense heat given off by fluorescent lighting, items like wine and beer can have their quality compromised and degrade rather rapidly once exposed to U.V. rays. We switched over to L.E.D. lighting and never looked back. L.E.D. lights do not give off that intense heat.”