By Joel Dippold | CNA Media Team
Concordia residents just got another great reason to go out and drink beer, with the recent opening of Imperial Bottle Shop and Taproom at 2006 N.E. Alberta St.
Imperial features a well-curated selection of bottles and 22 high-quality beers on tap – and two wines, three ciders and even a sake – complemented by an inviting brick-and-wood interior.
The husband-wife team of Alex Kurnellas and Shawn Stackpoole were living in Concordia, right behind Thai Noon, when they decided to open their first business. But in spite of – or because of – the smell of Thai cooking wafting through their windows and the fact that Alex’s father and grandfather had owned restaurants, Alex and Shawn wanted to work in the world of beer.
“We opened because we loved beer,” Shawn said. “We didn’t say, ‘Hey, beer is a growing thing, let’s cash in.'”
But they couldn’t find the right retail space in northeast and ended up opening their first shop on southeast Division Street, just as development there was exploding. All those upscale housing developments were good for business but, with the opening of the Alberta taproom, Shawn reported, “It’s nice to be back in the neighborhood.
“One of the rewarding experiences of opening a bar was becoming part of the community,” she said on a recent afternoon and, as if on cue, a customer stopped by the table for a discussion of where to go for the best chicken wings.
Shawn and Alex hope to cement their ties to the northeast community by hosting fundraisers for local school and community groups. Their event at the Division location raised money to buy uniforms for the Cleveland High School marching band.
The tap list also reflects their interest in community, with its emphasis on local: about 75 percent of the beers are local, and there are no imports or beers from the megabreweries. Their ever-evolving tap list is online at ImperialBottleShop. com/alberta.
“It’s pretty amazing what beers can be,” Alex explained. “You look at wine and it’s basically red or white. But with beer, you have a range that’s like the difference between a Chihuahua and a St. Bernard.”
There’s no kitchen, but outside food is actively encouraged. “Thankfully, if you want grab and go, you’ve got so much here,” Shawn said.
And if you like to drink beer, there’s so much to like about Imperial Bottle Shop and Taproom.
Joel is a freelance writer and editor who has lived in Concordia since 2000.