Carolina Beer Guy: Tasty Beverage closes Saturday

TAPPED OUT: After a five-year run, Johnny Belflower, owner of Tasty Beverage Co., is closing the South Slope bottle shop and taproom on Sept. 26. Photo by Thom O'Hearn

It’s last call for Tasty Beverage Co., the South Slope bottle shop and taproom. The business closes Saturday, Sept. 26, ending a five-year run as a leading Asheville destination to purchase craft and imported beers.

The closing is the latest casualty in what has been a rocky time for brewing and specialty beers sales in Asheville. Bruisin’ Ales closed in February, just before the COVID-19 pandemic first dealt its mighty blow, followed by Craft Centric Taproom and Bottle Shop in May. Craft Centric’s closing also meant the end of its sister business, Fermented Nonsense Brewing, which had been Asheville’s smallest brewery.

Tasty Beverage had never reopened its inside space to the public since shutting down in March to control the spread of COVID-19, says owner Johnny Belflower. Instead, the business shifted to online ordering and delivery with curbside pickup, which will continue through 6 p.m. Saturday.

Belflower notes that Tasty could have kept its public space open along with other beer and wine stores, as the businesses were deemed essential by the state. “But it wouldn’t have made a difference [in sales] and could have potentially made matters worse,” he says.

The original Tasty Beverage shop in Raleigh remains open for curbside and delivery sales.

“The struggles we faced are the same as every other bar, restaurant or retail business across the country,” Belflower says. “We weren’t the first [to close], and unfortunately won’t be the last.”

However, he might “reassess a smaller location next year” for his business in Asheville. The 4,500-square-foot shop was in a former Chrysler showroom, and the location later was home to a furniture shop.

The Coxe Avenue space is surrounded by breweries, including Asheville Brewing Co., Hi-Wire Brewing, Twin Leaf Brewery, Catawba Brewing Co., Wicked Weed Brewing’s Funkatorium, Green Man Brewery, Burial Beer Co. and Eurisko Beer Co. In addition, Bhramari Brewing Co. and the original Wicked Weed brewpub are nearby.

At Asheville Brewing, head brewer Pete Langheinrich says he will miss shopping at Tasty. “I really loved the place,” he says. “It’s been a good downtown beer spot with a great selection. It’s just a shame to see them go.”

The store stocked Asheville Brewing releases, including the seasonal Ninjabread Man holiday porter, which will return in November. “It always sold really well there,” Langheinrich says.

As owner of the closed Craft Centric and Fermented Nonsense businesses, Matt Vaughan is familiar with the sting of shutting down a beer shop and brewery. In citing a cause for the decrease in business, he points to many local supermarkets expanding their selection of craft beer, noting that “even your local convenience stores” are well stocked with craft beers.


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About Tony Kiss
Tony Kiss covers brewing news for the Xpress. He has been reporting on the Carolina beer scene since 1994. He's also covered distilling and cider making and spent 30 years reporting on area entertainment. Follow me @BeerguyTK

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