Courtesy of The Glass Jug
Owners Chris and Katy Creech
Change can be scary, so if you've become a fan of Durham's The Glass Jug
don't panic at the news that the Durham bottle shop and hangout is changing. Actually, you're one of the reasons why. The Glass Jug—known for its carefully selected retail choices, excellent lineup of brews on tap, and a welcoming vibe—is growing because it has won so many fans since opening in late 2014. As a result of that success, the spot is relocating inside the shopping center it currently occupies with such businesses as Sarah's Empanadas and Beneti's Restaurant, to a larger room a few doors down, in September of this year.
More space to sip and shop is only part of the plan. The Glass Jug will also start brewing its own beer on-site, add an area for private events such as office parties and birthday celebrations, and open an outdoor seating area in back. And, to encapsulate the varied aspects of the expansion, owners Chris and Katy Creech are also changing the name to The Glass Jug Beer Lab.
“We didn't want to be the Glass Jug Brewery or the Glass Jug Brewing Company because we're still a bottle shop, we're still a bar,” Chris Creech says. “The whole idea behind Beer Lab is we're right here in the middle of RTP, so it's kind of a nod to that, but it's also a nod to what we want to do with the space. Being that small, it allows us to really experiment, try new things, see what works and really have a lot of fun with it.”
It is small. Creech will be working with a three-barrel, four-fermenter system. “We're not trying to put a bunch of beers out to market,” he says. “It's mainly just for us to experiment with some one-off styles. We want to brew to our customers' tastes." He adds that they will "certainly do a lot of IPAs," with a rotating series of different styles and flavor combinations. "[We want to] come up with things that people haven't seen. Things that might be a little bit out there, but we can take a shot at it because we're not creating thirty barrels of it, we're only doing three barrels of it.”
In the new space, four more taps dedicated to those Beer Lab experiments will be added to the current setup of sixteen beer taps, along with existing taps for cider, coffee, kombucha soda, and nitro beer. The former tae kwon do studio it's moving into “is sixty percent bigger than the space we have here,” Creech says, “and we're trying to do a whole lot with it. We've found ourselves becoming as much of a neighborhood bar as we are a bottle shop. And we like that. We love our customers. We have a bunch of great regulars and we love this area, so that was our main concern for wanting to grow. The brewery is kind of a nice add-on to give us another something to offer.”
Creech says the plan is to take the current bar (“We used mostly reclaimed wood so it wouldn't make sense to throw it out and do it again”) and furniture with them, so it will feel much the same as the current location, just roomier. Instead of having the bar and a long single aisle of retail sharing a narrow space, each focus of the Glass Jug will have its own dedicated area. The bottle shop will be to the left as you enter. The bar will nestle against the back wall, with additional tables and seating between it and the door. The private-event area is to the right, beneath a vaulted ceiling, and just beyond that is the L-shaped segment of the room devoted to the brewing operation. Liberal use of glass will keep things feeling open and allow for viewing of the brewing equipment. An entrance being added to the back will lead to a grassy area with picnic tables and a parking area perfect for food trucks setting up shop. The extra room will make busy nights feel less jammed and foster quick stops to pick up your favorite six-pack without having to squeeze past a crowd standing around waiting on a table. But it doesn't mean that there will be a huge increase in the amount of beer on the shelves.
“We're not going to increase the amount of shelves right off the bat,” Creech says. “Because one of the things I like about what we do is we have a very well-curated selection. It's not walking into a big box store that has everything available, and you as a customer have to narrow it down and hope you end up with something good. We've done a lot of that work ahead of time.”
If paperwork and construction all go according to plan, the new space should be fully operational sometime in September. The Glass Jug, 5410 Highway 55, Durham; 919-813-0135, www.glass-jug.com.