Here for the Beer
Shannon Mims and Monique Haslam offer N.C. and S.C. craft beers, including 46 on tap, along with a vault full of wine in the fun, pet-friendly atmosphere at Brunswick Beer Xchange.
Finding both a lager and a stout in a place that calls itself the Brunswick Beer Xchange (aka BBX) should not be surprising.
Unless Lager and Stout, who greet you upon entering, have eight paws, two wagging tails and a propensity for snuggling at your feet while you sample some great beer.
Lager, a lovable, huggable, year-old mush-puppy silver Labrador, and Stout, a few months old and the definition of cute Corgi, have the full run of this pet-friendly beer and bottle shop in Leland. Owners Shannon Mims and his wife, Monique Haslam, wanted a place where pets and families would feel at home, and they have it.
Of course, it helps to have 46 taps of N.C./S.C. beers, a bank vault full of wine, six flat-screen TVs and comfortable seating both indoors and out. And some of those N.C. beers hail from Haslam’s home stomping grounds of the Outer Banks.
In fact, BBX borrowed the famous OBX symbol after Haslam had an epiphany driving home to Southern Shores on the Outer Banks. That’s where, in addition to running a bottle shop and taproom that is exploding in popularity, this dynamo from Detroit somehow finds the time to manage five dental offices.
Haslam splits her time between the Outer Banks and Leland, and she often brings down N.C. beers that most folks can’t get here, like Hatteras Red from Lost Colony Brewery in Manteo, Weeping Radish Dark Lager from Jarvisburg and 1718 Brewing’s Hooker’s Pants from Ocracoke. I confess that I and my taste-mates Dave and Jimmy were all enamored of Hooker’s Pants.
Simmer down. It’s an IPA, and it’s Mims’ favorite as well.
Haslam and Mims, whose main gig is as a firefighter at ILM, opened BBX in late October of 2021, and that was after Mims (who’s also a contractor) had to essentially gut the building to raise it — Phoenix-like — from three former identities. The place was once a dry-cleaners, a bakery and a bank — hence the large wine vault.
Neither entrepreneur was deterred by the many obstacles they needed to overcome to open their dream bottle shop, including a solid steel vault and a concrete deposit drop box built into the wall. Their toughest compromise came when trying to decide how many taps BBX should offer. Mims, the beer nut, wanted 50 to 60, while Haslam, the businesswoman, wanted 20 to 30. So, they settled at 46. Which sounds reasonable. If 46 taps do not suit your fancy, a treasure trove of bottles and cans is also readily accessible for both in-house consumption and/or take-home enjoyment.
At least six of the taps are set aside for tap takeover nights in which different breweries will come to show off their stuff. On the night we visited, as fate would have it, Edward Teach Brewing, nearby in Wilmington, was coming in with a full menu of quality beers.
On my visit, we arrived a tad earlier than their regularly-scheduled opening at 3 pm so we would have an opportunity to chat — and to quaff. I ordered a flight of the OBX beers, and it arrived on a wooden slab with four little mini Mason jars with handles. In fact, all the tap beers come in large Mason Jars, another Haslam idea and preference, like the rather unique ladies’ and men’s room door plaques.
Mims has contributed more than muscle and contracting knowhow to the interior ambiance of BBX as well. When you go, check out his Heroes’ Wall. It’s a map of the Tar Heel state surrounded by various flags of first responders: Corrections, Nurses, Police, Fire, Military, EMS and Dispatch. Any guest who can claim an association with any flag gets to sign his or her name on the Heroes’ Wall in permanent marker. It’s a neat touch, for sure, especially considering Mims’ chosen vocation.
So where did the idea to open a bottle shop and taproom come from? Turns out Mims once drove a beer truck in the late ’90s and the spark was lit, even though “I delivered mostly Coors Light and other mainstream beers,” he says.
According to Haslam, the clientele at BBX is a decidedly savvy group, especially when it comes to good beer.
“We’ll get an occasional young patron who comes in wanting to know if we carry six packs of mainstream stuff, because they’ll look at the board not-knowing what an IPA, a red ale, a stout or dark lager is,” she says. “So, they usually go somewhere else.”
That’s perfectly fine with Haslam because she knows (as the stepmother of five stepchildren) that many young folks are more interested in slamming than savoring their beer.
“They have a goal in mind, and detecting and analyzing the nuances and flavor notes of various craft beer isn’t it,” she says. So, leave your funnels at home.
Various food trucks are now making BBX a regular stop, and they usually appear at around 5 pm. The shop is open seven days a week, but no food trucks are on premises either Monday or Tuesday. There is, however, a Waffle House right next door, should you get a hankering.
Haslam’s keen business sense was honed by her many experiences, including running a steel company in her youth. And she has goals for growing this business.
“We’ll soon give our customers the opportunity to order kegs for home use,” she says.
When asked where she’d like to see herself and BBX in three years, she replies with a cheery, “Maybe I’ll open more BBXes to grow the family!”
Not a bad goal for a gal who, upon arriving in Leland, sat at the intersection opposite her current business, pointed to a dilapidated, under-used building and told Mims, “That’s where I’m putting our shop!”
Meanwhile, Mims has started the BBX Brew Crew Club for his fellow beer lovers.
Love a good beer?
Brunswick Beer Xchange (BBX)
13 Village Road NE, Leland