Why drive to the big city when you get that special bottle you’ve been searching for right in your hometown?
That was the mind-set Jay Bruestle envisioned when he started turning the Ameristop Convenience store into a one stop shop for craft beer. Ameristop is located at 1826 W. Fair Ave, Lancaster, OH (30+/- miles from Columbus, OH) and has been in business for 40 years, selling lunch meat, cheese, lottery, milk and beer. The craft beer selection started with a few here and there, including Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and has expanded to nearly half of the store. Jay fills the isles, refrigerators and end caps with over 600 craft beer selections. A line of Ohio beers fill the refrigerators, end caps are stocked, there’s a mix & match section as well, but the “Ahhhhhh” moment (by that I mean the light shines through the clouds and you’re in beer heaven) is when you turn the corner to face row after row of beer. My eyes sort of glaze over as I stare at the selection.
Jay’s thought is “Why drive all the way to Columbus (or elsewhere) to find that special bottle when you can get it here?” Though that sounds easy enough, it involves plenty of travel to stock the shelves. Jay travels all over Ohio to bring the latest and greatest back to Ameristop. He has traveled to the small town of Marengo, Ohio, location of Hoof Hearted Brewing, down to the big city of Cincinnati, where many great Ohio beers were born, such as Rhinegeist Brewing – famous for their year round Truth IPA 7.2% ABV with grapefruit and mango notes.
I was able to pick up a six pack of Hoof Hearted Cultrider Black Rye IPA on my last visit to Ameristop. The Imperial Black IPA at 11.5% ABV consists of Roasted Malt, Rye, and West Coast hops with plenty of chocolate flavor and orange zest. Hoof Hearted teamed up with local psych-rock group EYE to produce Cultrider (a track by EYE). Check out the song if you get a chance, pretty trippy. That’s kind of how you feel after drinking a couple of these bad boys and no wonder with the 11.5% ABV.
When asked what is the hardest beer to get his hands on, Jay says “3 Floyds Zombie Dust, it’s limited and demand is high”
I obviously had to research this APA after hearing about and of course now I’m on a mission to taste it, especially after the great reviews, descriptions and rating on BeerAdvocate (score of 100). This intensely hopped and gushing undead Pale Ale will be one’s only respite after the zombie apocalypse – description of Zombie Dust taken from the 3 Floyds website. 3 Floyds is located in Munster, IN.
So how did I find out about such a special location? A couple years ago I heard a rumor that the Ameristop over on Fair Ave. had a secret club (seriously, that’s what I was told). If you’re in the club the owner would get any beer you were looking for. So, when I went in to sign up, I assumed I’d have to knock on a back door and give the secret handshake. I actually asked an employee once about the club, and as it turns out the secret club is Ameristop’s newsletter. The newsletter allows followers to know what’s new get first dips on limited beers. Awhile back Jay had a limited amount of Fat Head’s Hop JuJu. He wasn’t sure how much he would get (if any) after his first delivery, so he reserved what he had for his newsletter subscribers. Jay was able to get 24 people 3 bottles a piece on the first delivery the week of the release. Now that’s customer service. The newsletter is also a way for customers to request new items.
Rumor has it that an Ameristop craft beer is in the works, brewed by Buckeye Lake Brewing Co. You might want to join the newsletter to be on the look-out for a release date.