Asheville has a unique history of combining beer and, well, whatever you want into retail shops. From bikes to camping gear and even motorcycle repair, there are a growing number of places where you can shop with a locally crafted beer in hand.
Enter the Local Barber and Tap, a neighborhood barbershop opened downtown on Walnut Street by former Asheville Barber & Beard employee Jordan Stolte. Here, one can pop in for a haircut then stop and enjoy a brew at the small bar in the back.
“I just wanted to make a hangout, you know,” Stolte says. “It’s a walk-in barbershop — you might have to wait 10 minutes, but you can get a beer while you wait.”
Stolte has been a barber for 12 years, and he says beer has gone hand in hand with haircuts at other places he’s worked.
“A lot of shops I worked at, we would give away complimentary cans of cheap beer,” he says. “I figured, well, it’s Beer City, there are a lot of beer lovers here, so we’ll get some on draft. Luckily it’s easy to get a beer license around here.”
Stolte has an interesting history with beer as well. Before going to barber school, he was an assistant brewer at Grizzly Peak Brewing Co. in Michigan. There he worked under Ron Jeffries — a legend in the craft beer scene. Jeffries moved on to open Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, which is a name most beer lovers are familiar with.
“The guy was a genius,” Stolte says. “I feel lucky to have worked under him, but brewing wasn’t for me.”
Still, he didn’t always plan on being a barber. “I went to school for graphic design,” he says. “But I finally found out I didn’t want to sit at a computer all day.
“I had family friends that owned a barbershop that I grew up going to,” he says. “I used to clean it on the weekends. I started cutting my own hair when I was too broke. [Then] I started cutting my friends’ hair. … Friends had told me my whole life to go to barber school, and I finally did it.”
Stotle says he thought about opening up his own shop for a long time, and it was always part of the plan to incorporate beer in some way.
“I thought I’d just get an old fridge, convert it to a kegerator and just give beer away,” he says. “But my friends kept saying, ‘Go big.’”
He adds that having beer on draft at his shop gives the business “something a little extra special.” The taps rotate regularly, but recent pours have included brews from Wicked Weed, Boojum Brewing, Oskar Blues and Appalachian Mountain.
The space itself is rich with an old-timey barbershop vibe. A traditional barber pole out front beckons customers who are greeted inside by an old-school shoeshine chair and — the real centerpiece — four reupholstered 1958 barber’s chairs, complete with ashtrays in the armrests. Then, of course, there’s the bar in the back built by Hi-Wire Brewing’s Zach Dier, which sports a barber pole tap handle.
“We have a bar, but we try to keep it family-friendly,” Stolte adds, noting that they’ve got toys and suckers for the kids.
Though the shop is fairly close to Stolte’s former employer, Asheville Barber & Beard in the Grove Arcade, he says the staff was “totally supportive” of him opening his own establishment downtown.
“They’ve got a good little shop going,” Stolte says. “But there could still be another two shops downtown, and we’d all stay busy.”
The Local Barber and Tap has actually been open for several months, but Stolte kept it low-key while hiring new barbers and preparing for more business. He says he already had a clientele from when he worked at the Barber & Beard, and he didn’t want to get overwhelmed.
Now, with four barbers on staff, a grand opening was held at the end of January, and Stolte and his crew are ready to cut some hair and pour some cold brews.
“I’m just kind of proud of the barbering trade in general,” Stolte says. “I wouldn’t say I have a passion for what I do, but I like there being an alternative to high-end salons and appointment-only places. [Barbershops] have always kind of been a community gathering place — a guys hangout. I wanted to try to create that.”
He adds that he also appreciates the freedom his job offers. “You’re your own boss. It’s just you and the customer in a straightforward transaction. You’re never rich, but you’re never poor. It’s the second-oldest profession,” he says with a laugh. “It’s been around forever, you know?”
The Local Barber and Tap is at 84 W. Walnut St. in downtown Asheville. Hours are 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays.