For those of you who say politics doesn't really affect your day-to-day lives, I offer The Glass Jug as evidence that you're wrong. When North Carolina's General Assembly passed a law in 2013 that loosened some of the rules regarding the sale of growlers, it gave Chris and Katy Creech, owners of the South Durham bottle shop, an idea.
That idea became The Glass Jug, which, along with a fairly substantial selection of quality craft beer, offers a counter-pressure filled growler station and 16 taps with an array of styles.
On a recent visit I found four dark ales on the menu, three choices in the "Belgians and sours" category, three under the Hops heading and four under the listing of "Lighter Side." Rounding out the choices were two selections from the month's featured brewery—Unknown Ginger Wheat and Unknown Scratch and Sniff (an excellent session IPA).
It was a Tuesday evening, which meant it was "Vinyl Night" at The Glass Jug. There are a couple of gents driving the musical car but Chris Creech says that if you have music you want to share, they're pretty accommodating about working it into the mix.
When the music gets going—usually around 5:30 p.m.—it gives the seating area near the entrance a rec room vibe. A turntable sits on a small table. In the floor next to it is a plastic milk crate of vinyl. The music isn't run through overhead speakers or the like, so the sound is very much like having your cousin crank up the volume in his den for you to hear his latest musical find. During my visit I heard range of tunes from Dylan to some old school R&B to some gut-bucket blues. The slightly unpolished, low-key affair is the sort of vibe I find thoroughly enjoyable. Several people chatting amiably at tables near the front seemed to be similarly appreciative.
Of course, there could be tomb-like silence and the well-curated draft list would provide plenty of entertainment. Along with the aforementioned two from Unknown there were such tempting options as Lonerider Tombstone Rye Stout (which makes me want to say, "Mighty fine beer, ma'am, mighty fine), Huske Hardware Watermelon Wheat, Southern Pines Duck Hook cream ale (another one I can personally vouch for) and Sugar Creek Belgian Dubbel.
The Glass Jug is open until 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday but closes earlier the rest of the week. Though they are adjusting their hours based on demand (for example, staying open an extra hour on Wednesdays because of a bike club's weekly ride), they aren't trying to be a late night bar hangout. "We're still a retail shop," Chris says. What it is doing, and doing well enough to nab first place in the 2015 INDY Best Of category of Best New Business in Durham County and second place in best beer selection, is providing a comfortable spot to discover new beer and find old favorites.
They take the discovery part seriously too. Everyone on the staff is at least a certified beer server through the Cicerone Certification Program. Plus, both Katy and Chris are homebrewers and Chris is a certified beer judge. So you can be confident that their guidance is on point.
Plus, you never know whom you might run into there. I heard a familiar voice on my visit and turned to discover Carolina Glenn and Dave, the NC Beer Guys, sidling up to the bar. Not a bad recommendation there. (By the way, watch for our Hops and Crafts beer guide in July for a chance to learn more about those guys.)
Along with weekly happenings such as vinyl night, they also have fairly regular tastings featuring different breweries. There's a Hi-Wire tasting this Thursday and one with Mystery Brewing on June 25.
So if you're looking for a relaxed scene to have a cold one and improve your beer knowledge at the same time, consider The Glass Jug. And on Election Day, when you're debating whether it's worth your time to vote, don't forget that the laws that result can directly affect your drinking enjoyment.
Curt Fields is associate editor for the INDY. Follow @IndyWeekFood on Twitter.