In Search of Mini-Marts with Decent Beer
As part of our effort to answer readers' beer questions this week, today's post is a response to "Coffebreath," who asked about neighborhood bodegas with surprisingly good beer selections. We certainly haven't spent time in a representative sample of the hundreds of convenience stores across the city, so the question is best turned over to you readers who have found great beer in the small markets in your own neighborhoods. So help us out in the comments, but in the meantime we are featuring two spots that have caught our beer-hunting eyes, Mr. T's Grocery in Adams Morgan and Timor Bodega in Bloomingdale.
The Lagerheads' nearest, and therefore most visited (that's how it works, right?) mini-mart is Mr. T's Grocery on Lanier Place near Adams Mill Road. Our sophisticated Calvert Street neighbors (translation: the ones who own entire rowhouses instead of rent basement apartments like us) rave about the shop's wine selection, but the beer shelves are also worth noticing. The deli-grocery does an especially nice job stocking regional beer, with two or three varieties of Flying Dog and Heavy Seas at any given time, as well as the occasional six-pack or two of Hook & Ladder or Dogfish Head. Other selection standouts include some of the more interesting offerings from Cisco, Harpoon, and Sierra Nevada and the usual suspects from Peak Organic, Sam Adams, and Magic Hat. They also have some nice large bottles conspicuously mixed in with Modelo Especial tallboys and bombers of Corona. The last time we were in, these included Duvel, Ommegang Three Philosophers, and Goose Island Sofie, a Belgian-style farmhouse ale aged in wine barrels. Six-packs at Mr. T's may be a dollar or two more than we'd prefer to pay, but we chalk it up to the cost of convenience.
Mr. T's does the trick (we pity the fool who thinks otherwise), but if we had our druthers we'd live close to Timor Bodega, the brightly painted blue shop at the corner of Rhode Island Avenue and 2nd Street, NW. This place always has three or four different styles from Bell's and Stone, and stocks West Coast favorites like Lagunitas Pilsner and Green Flash IPA. The organic market has a shockingly good collection of canned craft beer, with up to ten different brews from top canners like Oskar Blues, Anderson Valley, 21st Amendment, and Butternuts (most people go for the Porkslap Pale Ale). For a store that prides itself on local dairy and produce, we are surprised to see so few local and regional beers in their selection. Still, they have a solid beer program that goes beyond "surprising for a mini-mart."
But, alas, we really need to hear from you on this one. We suspect there are plenty of other bodegas that are big on beer out there, keeping up with the expanding palates of their clientele. So where are these gems? "Coffebreath" thanks you for sharing.