Farewell to Sam’s Bottle Shop

The owner and operator of Sam’s Bottle Shop, John Boy, announced last week that he’s ready to retire. The dearly loved shop will close it’s doors for the final time February 11th. Read on as Harmony and Ian reflect on the bottle shop that pioneered the distribution of craft beer in the Triangle and gave craft beer lovers like them a home for many, many years.

Where it All Began

Sam's Bottle ShopIn 2009 I was introduced to a Durham icon, Sam’s Quick Stop. At that time, Sam’s was a little gas station and store on the corner of Erwin Rd in Durham. From the outside you would have thought it was just a little convenience store, but when you walked inside, a whole new world emerged. Craft beers lined the walls and shelves. Beer taps flowed with the best of the best craft beer from all over the country. If you wanted something special and rare, Sam’s was sure to have it. The crew at Sam’s was unique: think punk rock meets heavy metal meets craft beer nerds. The Sam’s crew would teach me all they knew about craft beer, always ready to share their favorites on tap with me and others.

When I met John Boy, the owner and beer purveyor of Sam’s bottle shop, we became fast friends. John gave me a platform to showcase my first beers with Lonerider, and later, White Street. He went on to introduce me to other beer reps, give us opportunities to do events with multiple beers on tap, and connect me with other Durham professionals with restaurants, bars, and event venues.

In 2014, the crew at Sam’s allowed me to build my first ever off-premise display for the White Street beers we were rolling out to the off-premise market. We threw a huge party and JB bought a bunch of beer to share with the Durham community. I also got to know JB’s partner, the fabulous Holly Tucker when she was a rollergirl (Lonerider sponsored our local derby ladies). Holly has always been a wonderful ambassador for Ian’s beers, spreading the word of Lonerider, White Street, and now Blackbird throughout our careers.

Ian Looks Back

Ian has his own fond memories of visits to the old Sam’s Quick Stop. “My buddy Kevin and I used to make the trek to Durham from Raleigh during 2006-2008 for the latest and greatest craft beers before they were accessible anywhere else. The only other place you could get craft beer in Raleigh was Peace Street Market. But the beers Sam’s could get were much different. So every other week we would make a trip over, pick up the latest additions and spend a few hours tasting and discussing the beers.” Ian would often accompany me to our tap takeovers and beer tastings at the old Quick Shop. We could never leave without taking home some cool beer Nolan or BBQ or Ben or Mikey introduced us too.

Harmony’s Last Visit

I stopped into Sam’s last week and enjoyed a Cantillon and Foothills Hazy Jade with longtime buddy and Foothills rep Scott, John Boy, and the crew. We chatted about the old days, the days of Sam’s Blue Light and the gas station, the many faces who have been behind the counter at Sam’s over the years, and the numerous industry professionals who we have met along the way. Where else would you meet a guy named BBQ?!

To John Boy

Thank youJohn Boy and Gerry for bringing craft beer to the Triangle and for giving us industry folks an opportunity to showcase our brands and for supporting Ian and myself along our journey. This is not goodbye. I think the song Hello, Goodbye is appropriate here, “I don’t know why you say goodbye, I say hello. Hello hello.” Hello retirement! Hello new opportunities to visit industry friends. We are so grateful for all the support you and Holly have given us all these years. We wish you the very best retirement life possible and we have two stools waiting for you guys at Blackbird!

–Harmony VanGundy

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