The first time I found a bike shop with its own bar, I finally understood what everyone was talking about when they talk about heaven.
That sublime combination of shiny bikes and craft beer (on draft!) is about as close as I’ll ever get to seeing 70 virgins in the afterlife. The fact that that particular bike shop/bar was on the edge of Pisgah National Forest, with hauntingly beautiful road rides and world-class singletrack out the front door, was just icing on the 70-virgin cake. And there’s a barbecue joint next door.
I’m talking about The Hub, of course, that trail-blazing bike shop in Brevard that first had the idea to put a bar in their mechanic’s pit (first in the South, at least). Fast forward a few years and you can’t find a bike shop in the area that doesn’t serve craft beer in one form or another. Okay, that’s a bit hyperbolic. You can still find plenty of bike shops that just sell bikes and bike stuff, but craft beer has become ubiquitous.
Case in point, I give you Black Dome. Black Dome (named for the highest peak east of the Mississippi before it was called Mount Mitchell), is one of the most well-respected gear shops in Western North Carolina. If you want solid climbing gear, you go to Black Dome. If you want a new tent, camping gear, maps, disc golf paraphernalia…you go to Black Dome.
A few months back, they put in a bar. I’m sure they’d been planning the addition for a while, but to me, it seemed like it was overnight. One day there were tents set up for a display, the next, there’s a legit bar with six taps, half a dozen bar stools and a comfy couch. You know, for lounging.
When I first heard about the bar, I tried to get one of my drinking/biking buddies to go, but he balked. “No. No more craft beer tasting rooms. I want a bar. With women. And liquor.”
He’s becoming a curmudgeon in his old age, but I could see where he’s coming from. At what point does craft beer “jump the shark” so to speak? If every bike shop, cupcake shop, and bookstore in the land has a bar with five rotating local taps, doesn’t that accessibility ruin the novelty of getting a good beer in a place where you normally wouldn’t be allowed to drink a good beer?
Look, there’s a Shell Gas Station down the street from me that has a craft beer tap room and legit beer garden complete with cornhole. Does the world need another craft beer tap room with cornhole? Isn’t all this craft goodness just so…common…now?
It’s something I pondered while in Black Dome recently. I was in there looking for a certain map of Pisgah, but I decided to pull up a stool too. They had Hi-Wire, one of Asheville’s newest breweries, on tap, so I indulged in a mid-shopping pint.
While sipping my tasty beer and casually looking over the racks of performance layers and approach shoes behind me, I kept wondering, “Is this bar really necessary?” Do we really need to have a beer while we shop for wicking underwear and a headlamp?
The answer I kept coming up with, was a resounding “yes.” The bar in Black Dome is necessary. If not necessary, then it’s welcome at the very least. Because beer is good and more beer in more places is gooder. It may not be novel anymore, but so what. I say put a tap in every gear shop across the land. The mall could use more craft beer taps. So could your favorite trailhead. And the bus stop around the corner. And the DMV. And your office…