Buffalo City Jug Shop: Craft beers and a downtown vibe

By on August 29, 2017

Owner Morgan Myshin. (Russ Lay)

Morgan Myshin, the owner of Buffalo City Jug Shop, is a “beer geek.” “I prefer that term,” he tells me jokingly.

Prefers it to the idea that the people who gravitate toward craft beers are approaching the stereotype of the wine snob: an elitist who obsesses over the minutest differences in fermented grape juices.

I was sitting down with Morgan in a long-delayed interview. Delayed because when I approached him about discussing his business, he was preparing to move the shop from Nags Head’s Surf Side Plaza into a new building near Fresh Pond Road in Kill Devil Hills.

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Although I had been anticipating the interview for a long time, I was also worried about the meeting because the beer market truly has become so trendy and oversaturated that the specter of snob-ness is off-putting to many audiences.

That is why it is so interesting that Morgan chooses the term “geek.”

The idea of someone with in-depth knowledge on one topic has come a long way since popular cultures started to poke fun at the nerds and geeks of the world. Today, comics, consumer electronics, games and science fiction are cool and the people who enjoy them no longer cower in the corner of comics shops.

By making craft beer geeky, Morgan is emphasizing that it is cool and approachable — the very opposite of the wine snobs often imagined guarding the gates of the wine world. Morgan, on the other hand, is more than happy to hold open the door for anyone interested in his world.

Morgan moved to the Outer Banks in the early 90s and is a Manteo High alumni. He then left to study History and Film at the University of Wilmington.

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After graduation, he found an opportunity to live and work in California.

While traveling around and working in the Bay Area, he had his first real tastes of the craft beer world.

It was around this time craft brewery New Belgian’s Fat Tire ale had become so popular. “It became clear to me that craft beer was blowing up.”

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Morgan moved back to the Outer Banks and knew he wanted to get into the craft beer business. His drive led him to open the Buffalo City Jug Shop at the end of August in 2015.

Like other beer shops, the store offered canned and bottled beers, but the real draw was the 23 beer taps he had available to would pour and store in growlers, large glass jugs that can be used and reused to take home fresh beer straight from the taps.

I asked Morgan what his main strategy was in making a space for his shop in an area with strong and long established competitors.

“Location was the primary thing,” he tells me. “Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills had good shops, but Nags Head and Manteo didn’t really have anything, so I was hoping to provide a level of convenience to those consumers.”

Morgan also worked hard to achieve consistency. “I was new to the distribution and allocation rules that apply to alcohol in North Carolina.” Morgan’s mission was to both keep good beer that people want in stock as often as he could, but he wanted to also have a wide variety of new beers available to frequent shoppers.

Through hard work and outreach, assisted in part by his friendly attitude, Morgan was able to stock his store with offerings from breweries such as Wooden Robot in Charlotte and Burial Beer Company in Ashville.

“I found partners that I felt a real comradery with,” Morgan says. “Those guys greeted me with open arms.”

Lastly, Morgan’s local ties also helped spread the word.

His Outer Banks network — friends, former co-workers and fellow beer geeks — let everyone know that a new shop was in town and worth a try.

While operating the Nags Head location, Morgan became acquainted with Mark and Karla Hutchins at the Country Deli. One day, Karla approached Morgan with the idea of moving, which eventually resulted in both businesses planning to relocate to the new fresh pond shops in Kill Devil Hills in early 2017.

As I mentioned, though, this interview was long-delayed, the result largely of construction-related delays on their new location, and rather than Buffalo City Jug Shop being closed only for May, Morgan was closed for nearly two months. Finally, he was able to open his shop back up on June 30, just in time for a grand-opening celebration featuring several kegs from Burial Beer Company on July 2.

Morgan tells me that the post-move weeks have been great. “I’ve been getting great feedback from customers and couldn’t be happier with the location itself.” The new location offers all the features of the original but adds a bar where Morgan offers fresh pints from his taps to thirsty patrons.

Morgan, Mark and Karla greatly enjoy the relationship between their brands and advertise each other’s offerings at their shops. Customers are welcome to eat their deli sandwiches at Morgan’s bar and drink their beers at Country Deli (provided it leaves the Jug Shop sealed).

To me, this is the closest thing you get to a downtown cohesion present in contemporary cityscapes, even if it is only two shops, and it leaves me hopeful for more symbiotic business centers on the Outer Banks.

While talking with Morgan and enjoying some drinks, he took breaks to help the customers on several occasions. I was thoroughly impressed with the level of service he provided and the craft beer knowledge on display.

One customer came in looking for a standard Mexican-syle import lager, which Morgan was not carrying at the time. He was able to guide his guest to similarly styled craft beers he had available, thus introducing another novice to the world of domestically sourced liquid.

“Many first-time craft beer drinkers have become steady buyers,” he tells me. In fact, Morgan prefers this type of customer. I assume this it is in part to the stint of teaching he did (Morgan also holds a Master’s certificate in teaching) that motivates him to help consumers new to the world of craft beers discover something he cares deeply about.

Another set of customers came in looking for Sours. Sours are beers brewed with bacteria, traditionally wild yeast, and often take on tart and salty characteristics.

Sour beers are one of my favorite brews and likewise, Morgan enjoys them as a favorite. One of the aspects I like most about the Jug Shop is that there are often serval sour beers available on tap, and much more in bottles and cans.

While talking with Morgan, I ordered a pint of Berlinerweisse, a light, tart and refreshing sour from Mother Earth Brewing in Kinston, NC.

After finishing my beer, Morgan shared several samples of his favorite beers he had on tap.

The first was a sour by Bhramari called Molly’s Lips. Bhramari is a newer brewery in Asheville run by chefs.

“Oddly enough,” he tells me, “I met these guys at the Outer Banks Brew Fest.”

The beer was a black gose. Black beers are named for their roasted malts and I was curious how it would taste on top of the salty and sour notes characteristic of a gose. I was surprised by the smoothness, which I rarely associate with a gose. I found it very tasty.

Morgan continued the sour onslaught with another one from Bhramari called The Good Fight. It had a stronger-than-expected hop aroma and after a sip, I could tell that the brewers were aggressive with their dry-hopping, which made it more bitter than sour and it finished with a fine malty flavor. I think it would make for a great introduction to sours, which can often be off-putting at first.

Next, I tasted Burial Beer Company’s Surf Wax India Pale Ale (IPA). IPAs are perhaps the most popular craft beers and are known for their hoppy aroma, tangy hop flavor, relatively high ABV (alcohol by volume) and aggressive bitterness that lingers for long after a sip. Surf Wax, however, seemed to mute the most aggressive characteristics, which led the beer to taste far more herbal and tangy than bitter. The moderate body, carbonation and dry finish created a unique-tasting IPA, which I enjoyed more than many others.

At some point during the interview, a customer had come in requesting a gluten-free beer.

Morgan always keeps a cider on tap, which is naturally gluten-free, but he also tries to stock a gluten-free or trace gluten beer at all times. At this time, Morgan had Stone’s Delicious IPA on tap. Stone is a relatively popular craft beer company out of Escondido, Calif. that is most popular for its Arrogant Bastard Ale.

I have tasted gluten-free beer in the past, but never really enjoyed any of them. Still, I was curious to try Stone’s offering and asked Morgan for a small pour. Immediately after sipping the beverage, I was assaulted by a lemony citrus taste that made the beer seem extremely volatile.

This was an IPA like no other I was familiar with and I was surprised by how much I liked it.

Lastly, Morgan wanted me to taste one of his beers from Wooden Robot, but he was hesitant.

“The keg is almost empty and it doesn’t taste how it should.” Still, I asked for a taste, just to see what he was talking about and I discovered that the beer was flawed exactly as he described it. “Don’t mention it,” he said. “Come back in a week and I’ll have a fresh wooden robot on tap.”

Buffalo City Jug Shop is everything you want you small, local beer shop to be. It offers plenty of standards but stocks enough rotating small-batches and specialties to keep even the most aggressive beer enthusiast satisfied.

Buffalo City Jug shop is alongside The Country Deli at 1900 S Croatan Highway at Mile Post 9.75 in Kill Devil Hills.

1900 S. Croatan Highway, Suite B, Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948

Buffalocitybeer.com
Instagram: @buffalo_city_jug_shop
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/buffalocityjugshop/
Phone: (252) 255-2347
Websites of Breweries Discussed:
http://www.burialbeer.com/
http://www.bhramaribrewhouse.com/
http://www.stonebrewing.com/
https://woodenrobotbrewery.com/
http://www.motherearthbrewing.com/

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Comments

Cliff Claven

September 13, 2017 10:23 pm

Buffalo City Jug Shop has a great variety of beers. It’s nice they can offer pints now to enable a customer to try different beers. The owner Morgan is very helpful in understanding differences between the beers and what flavors are highlighted in each beer.

Harold

September 9, 2017 7:00 pm

love having a local entrepreneur venture out into a really viable location!

Barbara Hoglen

August 29, 2017 4:37 pm

Stopped there over the summer. Nice staff, good beer.

Comments are closed.