Michael Beckmann sells a lot of craft beer at his Highlands Tony Boombozz location. A lot of it. And it’s not just because there is only one non-craft or non-local tap, either.
The general manager and brains behind the beers thinks a big part of what drives craft beer’s popularity is growing rebellion against big corporations. Secondly, people like to drink locally.
“Localness is what drives craft beer,” he said.
He told me this as I sipped a New Albanian Brewing Company Houndmouth, one of several local and craft beers I tried while sitting at the bar with Beckmann and his girlfriend Caroline. His taps are always rotating in new brews, stuff from local and regional breweries as well as from around the world. It’s quite a journey for the taste buds.
I also tasted Southern Tier Live, Widmer Alchemy Ale, Mikkeller Wet Hop Kellerbier, Country Boy Cougar Bait and Sierra Nevada Oliva Quad. I’ll spare you wordy reviews, but the Mikeller reminded more of a pilsner than an ale, and the Oliva Quad was so interesting, flavorful and ripe with plums that my first thought was that it would be delicious poured over pancakes.
Beckmann spoke of how he makes sure his taps always feature local brews, and that he does a “TALL4small” (tall beer for a short beer price) special every Thursday for local brews only. “I love supporting the locals,” he said. “And it works.”
He wants a visit to Boombozz Taphouse to be an experience, versus a get-drunk session; no two beer drinkers are created equally, and yet he also wants to make sure each person’s palate gets some respect. (He said one woman actually wrote a dissertation about how well she was treated at Boombozz as a female beer drinker. Apparently, the bar staff didn’t jump to the conclusion she would want a Blue Moon with an orange wedge.)
And while there is a shortage of such beers in the taps, Beckmann also makes sure there are “simpler” local and craft beers bartenders can recommend to customers looking for a new experience. The house BoomBrew, for instance, is the very drinkable Bluegrass Brewing Company Amber. In fact, in recent weeks there’s been no corporate beer on tap at all.
“We went through April and May without it, and no one complained,” he said. At the same time, “I don’t think anybody here is going to make you feel guilty about ordering a Bud Light.”
So, he makes sure to have the corporate beers always available in bottles, just to be safe.
But for those who like their taste buds to be challenged, the Boombozz Taphouse is a great place to be. Beckmann and his bar staff like to mix it up. Literally. For instance, he recently mixed the Southern Tier Live, Mikkeller Wet Hop and Widmer Alchemy Ale. Another popular blend was a Cumberland Brews Roasted Pumpkin Ale with a Southern Tier Creme Brulee.
“It tasted like pumpkin pie with whipped cream,” he said.
And next time you’re in, be sure to ask him about the seven-stout blend.
Anyway, for Beckmann, his position at Boombozz is like “a play thing.” He likes to not only treat his customers, but to also treat himself.
“And I’ve got the pick of the litter here,” he said.