It's not a typical Tuesday at Salud Beer Shop. Construction chaos from the expansion next door has bled over, and store owner Jason Glunt, 32, seems a bit on edge. You'd only notice because he's smiling a little less than he normally does. I'm just a patron, and I'm trying not to pull my own hair out.
"We've been open almost three years now? And this is the first time anyone's said anything about it?" His dishwasher, as it turns out, wasn't in the right place. Plastic cups are being used temporarily until the situation is resolved. That won't happen until construction finishes.
Glunt's done some big things for the Charlotte beer scene since opening shop in 2012, with more on the way. He's already hosted two editions of the outside festival Release The Funk, dedicated to sour and wild ales, with the next installment due in November. That's right, an entire festival dedicated to a niche style, that's typically hosted in world-renowned beer cities like Denver or San Diego.
His existing shop space was never enough; now he's tearing the wall down and commandeering the space next door for ... I'm getting ahead of myself.
Looking back, it's odd that there wasn't a proper bottle shop serving NoDa, a beer-centric area of town sporting three breweries. Glunt wasn't reinventing the wheel by serving on-premise pours either; many other places did the same. But he was the first, and still only, to have a small TV set with an NES hooked to it.
It's getting tricky to walk around right now, as deliveries keep rolling in and patrons with beers in hand mill about. Cases of beer are stacked to one side of the bar; they'll be sorted through when there's time. Glunt signs for a delivery before helping a customer find "something that tastes like" a beer they vaguely recall from a week before. The customer is offered some helpful advice. He ends up leaving with several varieties that should suit his needs.
Opening in the space next door in a few weeks, and the cause of this chaos, is FD at Salud. It's a deli at heart, with beer as an ingredient in many menu items. Traditional sandwiches are passé, with several menu items sporting Belgian waffles in lieu of bread. NoDa and delis go together like pimento cheese and bacon, but Glunt's vision for the expansion doesn't stop with food.
Trailing the deli's opening by a few weeks will be Salud's own nano-brewery. Glunt's not adding a full-time brewer to his roster. In an unusual move, and one unseen in Charlotte so far, he's opting for a rotating cast of guest brewers. Already, he has a lineup of guest homebrewers (including yours truly) who are eager to get their concoctions in front of a larger audience. There are also arrangements with local professional brewers looking to use the nanobrewery as a collaborative sandbox. Beers will only be served in-house, and taps will rotate frequently.
The heavy construction is done next door; framing skeleton and conduit muscle show the expansion's shape, just lacking a drywall skin and appliance organs. "It's almost exciting to have this place a wreck, it means we're making big steps," Glunt muses as he prices bottles. I take another sip from my plastic cup. Almost done.