When Total Beverage opened in Chantilly, Virginia, over a decade and a half ago, it was a radical concept. Besides a huge selection of wine, the store carried hundreds of varieties of beer. In mid -1990’s Baltimore, Beck’s was considered an exotic beer. A store only 90 minutes away with so many new beers? I had to check it out! My first “road trip” to Total Beverage resulted in a few new beers, though the only one I remember is Oranjeboom, a Dutch beer I had sampled in Europe. The weekend treks to northern Virginia continued for several years.
As local stores began carrying an increasing assortment of beers, both from national and craft breweries, and with two fairly well-stocked liquor stores within walking distance of my office, trips to Total Beverage were discontinued.
Not too long ago, on the way to Skyline Drive, I decided to stop in to what is now Total Wine & More and visit an old friend. The website states that the store is “the largest independent fine wine retailer in the country” and that “1000 different beers” are featured. Wow, 1000 different beers? With a list culled from The Brew Club in hand, I entered. The store is the size of a supermarket, with wine and beer sold in several aisles. There are several aisles dedicated to cases of beer, one aisle with four and six packs, and a good part of another aisle dedicated to single bottles and cans.
The beer multi-packs are arranged by region and the singles are arranged by variety. Besides a wide range of difficult to find brews, there are the standard Miller, Bud and Corona type products as well. The staff is very knowledgeable, friendly, and helpful, recommending several choices when the beer in question was sold out or not carried.
My haul: a Troegs Anthology variety pack; Anchor Brewing Company’s Merry Christmas & Happy New Year Beer; bottles of Post Road Pumpkin Ale (gotta try this one, even though it received 2.5 stars!), Red Hook Late Harvest Autumn Ale, Atwater Block Vanilla Java Porter, Dogfish Head Saison du Buff (ale brewed with parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme, remember me to one who lives there), Founders Centennial IPA, and a can of Ten Fidy Imperial Stout; plus various presents for friends and co-workers. The back of my truck was filled when I left!
Total Wine has stores in ten states, including New Jersey. Definitely worth a visit. Oh, they also sell wine.
“1000 bottles of beer on the wall, 1000 bottles of beer…”