Nestled between a Citgo gas station and an auto shop on Spring Garden Street in Greensboro is one of the Triad’s best kept secrets for craft beer. The Pipe & Pint — which also offers loose-leaf tobacco, cigars, pipes and wine — sells many styles and brands that are rare to this area.
I entered the shop before close on a recent Thursday afternoon. Situated in a two-story house with a wide front porch, it felt like a 19th Century general store. The hardwood floor creaked underfoot. The walk-in humidor, a small, enclosed room to the right, had glass windows facing neatly arranged rows.
Owner Larry Christopher stood behind the wooden counter, the sleeves of his peach-colored, button-up shirt rolled up. He seemed at once hard-working and modest, a throwback to a bygone era.
Several regulars came in and asked about tobacco, some of them picking up supplies that had already been set aside for them, but I was here for booze recommendations. With wine, Christopher asked what I typically go for. I told him about the reds I love, and he asked about my price range — $10 to $20, I said.
He sidled along a wooden shelf by the wall, explaining a petite sirah may be just the ticket. Christopher confided that these are his favorite type of reds, and offered me a bottle of Americano from Napa Valley, which I immediately snagged.
“And for beer?” he asked.
We entered the small back room, filled wall to wall with craft beer of all styles and sizes. Although I recognized some brands on the shelves, like Granite Falls and D9, most of them were new to me.
I described my love for stouts — the darker the better. Christopher pointed out the barrel-aged El Paraiso from Wicked Weed, an imperial stout brewed with coffee and cocoa nibs. The sheer breadth of Wicked Weed offerings beats out even Potent Potables’ stock, giving Pipe & Pint customers plenty of rarer options from which to choose.
A few weeks ago, when I stopped by the shop for the first time, Christopher sold me on Olde Hickory’s Event Horizon, a bourbon-barrel-aged imperial stout brewed with honey. It’s so popular, he said, that he bought the rest of their stock, as the display next to the front counter showed.
This time at the store, I asked how well it was selling.
“I sell between six bottles and a case a week,” he said.
And no wonder: It’s a beautiful beer, like a melted chocolate bar with honey and bourbon added to it. My trust in his recommendations intact, I picked up a bottle of Olde Hickory’s non-aged imperial stout this time.
A nearby refrigerator housed a bunch of growlers from Four Saints Brewing in Asheboro, as well as their brand new canned Bandwagon New England IPA. A customer swore it tastes like orange juice, and proceeded to take a couple of the few remaining cans.
The shop also has a decent supply of meads, including several moderately priced bottles from Starrlight Mead in Pittsboro alongside the more expensive but alluring Viking Blod from Dansk Mjod in Denmark.
After yet another haul from this lovely place, Christopher carried my purchases out to my car himself, as he had done for other customers. He said the shop has been in its current location since 2010 but has been operating since 1998 — “20 years come February.” I asked if he will do anything to celebrate.
“Come to work,” he said.
Modesty and substance, just like the Americano petite sirah I savored later that night.