Craft Beer Conversation: Variety Rules At Detroit Bottle Shop And Tap Room

By WWJ Newsradio 950
WWJ’s Zach Clark is searching metro Detroit for the best of the best when it comes to craft beer. On a quest for the best tastes, funkiest brews and most unique experiences on the craft beer scene, “Craft Beer Conversation” will be a weekly series highlighting the area’s best. Be sure to check it out every Friday.

DETROIT (WWJ) – Any craft beer aficionado – or any beer drinker, for that matter – has been to a bar with a wide selection of beers on tap or walked into a store and stared at shelves upon shelves of different craft selections.

At 8 Degrees Plato in Detroit, you get the best of both worlds.

Tim Costello’s bottle shop and tap room, which was born out of a standup comedy career, offers an array of rotating taps and endless choices of packaged beer along the Cass Corridor near Peterboro Street in Midtown Detroit.

Costello tells WWJ’s Zach Clark, he had spent the better part of two decades traveling the country playing comedy shows – some at big arenas with big-name stars, and some at smaller clubs. Wherever he went, instead of sticking to the same old beers he could get anywhere, Costello loved trying the local beers.

Eventually, he started bringing home samples for himself and neighbors. Soon enough, the whole neighborhood was gathering at the end of his driveway on Tenny Street in Dearborn, with everyone bringing their own new brews to pass around. Thus, “Sundays on Tenny” became a neighborhood staple.

"And then we thought to ourselves, ‘well wouldn’t this be fun if we could make a store out of this?’" Costello says.

Well, then the great recession of 2008 hit and Costello was, as he puts it, "liberated" from his job at a cable company, and he decided to bring that idea to life.

Costello says when that happened, it was tough to find work, so he went back to school at Eastern Michigan University and earned an entrepreneurship degree -- three and a half years worth of schooling -- in about a year and a half, and started writing the business plan.

He and his wife, Brigid, soon opened 8 Degrees Plato in Ferndale as "a craft beer store that catered just for craft beer enthusiasts."

At the time, laws did not allow them to have tap handles in the Ferndale store, so they opened a second location in Detroit. The Ferndale location closed last year, but business is booming at the Midtown location, where their goal is to get to know every customer that comes in. Costello says their Detroit shop was the first of its kind in Michigan.

At 8 Degrees Plato, they’re all about variety. That’s why their 16 handles see a complete turnover about every 10 days.

"There’s always going to be something new for you to try. So it’s always new stuff, which keeps the crew here always looking for the next cool thing," said Beer Sherpa Zach Green.

Beer Sherpa? That’s right. He got the moniker, he says, after making a treacherous winter trip to the U.P. to bring back some beer for the shop.

"The cool thing about when we took (our positions) here, Tim gave us the opportunity to decide what we wanted our titles to be, with only a couple rules – we had some fun with that," Green says. "I feel like I kind of got my wings with the whole ‘Beer Sherpa’ thing after Tim and I made a trip to (Blackrocks Brewery in Marquette) in the middle of winter through the ice and snow to grab some beers from Blackrocks, which was pretty cool. So, definitely a tested title there."

The Beer Sherpa is all about finding the best, unique brews, and staying true to the Mitten State.

"Right off the bat, one of the first things that we think about is always ‘can we keep it local, can we keep it Michigan, can we keep it unique?’"

Costello says from bottles to small barrels, he focuses on variety and freshness.

"You don’t need to have 175 different taps, you just need to have 16 really good ones," he said. "And our goal is every time you come into this store, you find something different on the tap list, whether you come in every other day, once a week, or once a month."

He says they go a long way in acquiring beers from breweries that may not be getting a shot “in some of these big boy stores.”

 "We tend to buy beer much like fruit and vegetables. We try to buy in freshness. Certain things like IPAs or things that need to be drank within a certain amount of time, what we will do is try to buy in the quantity that we feel we can sell in a safe amount of time," Costello said.

Whether you want to sip on a beer while you shop, or just hang out, 8 Degrees Plato is the No. 1 spot for variety. They also provide beer delivery and party services. For more information about the bottle shop, visit their website.

Listen below for Zach Clark's full conversation with Tim Costello and Zach Green:
Have a favorite brewery or brewpub you want Zach to highlight in his “Craft Beer Conversation” series? Reach out on Twitter -- @ZachEClark -- or via email at Zach.Clark@entercom.com

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