On the many occasions I’d talk to State Line Liquors’ co-owner and beer guy Robert Murray about the up coming renovations to the family owned beer mecca, it would always be the same. He’d stand there and enthusiastically wave his hands as he informed me what wall was going away and where all the inventory was going to be relocated. And as always in cases like this, I walked a way with what I though was a clear picture as to what the finished product would look like. And as with most cases, I was wrong.
Walking into SLL for the first time after the major work had been done, I was immediately struck with how different of a feel the store had. Maybe it was because some of the shelves were still empty, employees still moving around like a swarm of bees as they replaced stock. Maybe it was the lighting, that seemed a little more diminished as if struggling to illuminate a far greater area than it had been asked to in the past.
But it wasn’t until I rounded the corner where the American craft bomber bottles were shelved that the breadth of this project really struck me. The line of sight had been greatly increased, all the way from the front of the store to a point farther back that was way more than I’d expected. While the shelves and floor space had been installed and stocked, the walls and ceilings in the new area were still unfinished giving the store an almost warehouse feel to it (makes since, since the new floor space came from the back warehouse). Indeed as I looked out over the expanse of wine and beer (the hard stuff is in the other portion of the store) I thought that the place had the feel of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, except instead of housing a collection of seeds from all around the world, this structure was where mankind had decided to house bottles of beers from around the world, to be protected for future generations, or at least, this weekend’s imbibers.
Although Robert was not sure how much retail floor space had been added to the store, “Some day I need to figure that out”, he was quick to point out that size was not the only thing this renovation was going to increase. “… yes we’ll be adding to product selection as well, in particular Craft Spirits.”
But the focal point of this recent construction is the new bar that was added in the back area. State Line started selling growlers several years ago, and the program was well received. Unfortunately they had to stop because of a State law that prohibits the “repackaging” of liquor. “I could fill a growler of beer for you,” he told me in a previous conversation, “but once I put a cap on the growler I’m breaking the law.” Of course growler sales have become a big plus for beer establishments across the United States, a fact that business owners and beer lovers were quick to try to impress upon Maryland government. After Maryland passed a bill that allowed growler sales in the county in which Baltimore resides, a state wide law was only a matter of time, and a little lobbying, away. Once the law was passed in full, Robert was quick to restart his program. But of course, he wanted to take it to the next level.
“We added a new tasting bar, currently the home of 20 beer taps for our tastings and growler filling. We’ve also increased our tasting room area and we’ll be adding some very cool educational tools in the near future.” Hmmm, growlers and renovations. Sound familiar?
The new area looks amazing, well it will once all the construction is done, but it’s still pretty impressive now. Add on some of the best growler prices in the area, and you’ve got a recipe for a location that any craft beer lover would be happy to call, “their liquor store”. Click here to see what’s on the growler board at any time.
As always, I’d like to thank Robert for his valuable time.