Bottoms Up: 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall

Well, actually, more than 99 bottles. Last week, I thought I’d surprise Dr. J with some hard-to-find India Pale Ales, so Yelp directed me to a glorious place called Westover Market in Arlington, Virginia, whose claim to fame is its Great Wall of Beer. There are apparently more than 1000 varieties of bottled and kegged beers, both domestic and international, ready to be chugged.

Check it out:

And that’s not even the half of it. There are beer bottles and six-packs lining the store’s produce and deli cases, and beer on smaller tables scattered throughout the store. Not to mention the monthly beer tastings and the quaint beer garden (complete with fire pits and live music) outside:

Photo by Dennis Kingston

It took me a while to browse through everything, but I saw some pretty impressive craft beers that are hard to come across in regular markets: Dogfish Head, Allagash, Rogue Alehouse, Founders, Green Flash, Bell’s, Oskar Blues, Hitachino Nest, Victory Brewing Company, Lagunitas, Ommegang, even The Bruery, a microbrewer in my old stomping grounds of Orange County, CA. (Who would have thought the OC could yield good beers?) You’ll even find a good selection of hard-to-pronounce Belgian, German and Japanese beers here.

Obviously, these guys are pretty serious about their brews. I mean, they even have a T-shirt with “The Great Wall of Beer” emblazoned on the front, so you know they mean business. And people are literally drinking it up. I saw that they were doing a beer tasting, and people of all stripes were standing around, red Dixie cups in hand, as if it were a high-brow frat party or something.

It was refreshing to find a place that has a decent beer selection. When Dr. J and I were living in Davis Square during our Boston-area days, we’d always end up at Downtown Wine and Spirits, which was just a stone’s throw away from our apartment and had a smaller but more finely edited selection of interesting labels you’d never find at the average liquor store. Even though it’s not as convenient to get to, and even if it doesn’t have some brands that we might like better, I have a feeling Westover Market will be our new go-to place for weekend beer runs.

I ended up leaving the store with a sixer of Founders Centennial IPA and a pint of Allagash Tripel Reserve (which I’m sipping as I type), and after chatting with the little Asian woman who rang me up, I found out that she and her husband own the place, but actually don’t drink. I guess they know a good business opportunity when they see one…

Once I paid up and got ready to leave, I realized I forgot to take pictures, so I dashed back to the wall and started snapping away. One guy, who was there with two friends, smiled and said, “You must be as excited as we are, huh?” They’d all driven down from Maryland–on a weeknight, no less!–just to check out the Great Wall.

Beer. It brings people together.

On a related note, beer is also credited with inspiring modern agriculture, writing, math, modern medicine, the landing at Plymouth Rock, and saving the world on more than one occasion, according to an excellent documentary on the Discovery Channel:



Filed under adventures in grocery shopping, bottoms up!, Food

3 responses to “Bottoms Up: 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall

  1. justin

    We do brew great beers in Orange county! One day we will get a bit of respect like we deserve.. i also suggest checking out Bootlegger’s its in Fullerton,ca…

    love your blog, keep it up!

    be a friend

  2. sysoong

    Thanks for the rec, Justin! And yes, I’m proud of the OC for turning out some good ones. Will have to check out Bootlegger’s next time I’m visiting my folks. I appreciate the feedback!

  3. Pingback: I’m Craving: Humboldt Fog | Chow Bella

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