It’s Tap Time
Ocean Isle Beach beer nuts celebrate the opening of an establishment that offers only good beer at reasonable prices.
Keith and Christa Berciunas were supposed to be in Colorado celebrating family birthdays on July 4. Instead, they were tending to thirsty and curious beer-loving customers at Ocean Isle Beach’s first mini-Bierhalle — a neat little place called Tap Time.
In a pleasing, airy, comfortable space built entirely by Keith (save for the electric wiring and HVAC), a packed house of beer nuts gathered for the grand-opening celebration of the Berciunas’ dream, which was born last October.
“He always wanted to open a restaurant,” says Christa, whose youthful looks belie her age. “I wasn’t about to sign onto that. So this was our compromise.”
The only food you’ll find at Tap Time is brought in by patrons. With a Publix practically next door and a new cafe set to open adjacent to Tap Time soon, securing food shouldn’t be a problem. Remember: Eating while drinking is not only a great experience, but also a smart move. On our visit my son, Kaz, took a quick run to nearby Beaches and Burgers (ranked as one of the best burger places in the Tarheel State) and brought back some delicious stuff.
Of course, there are already places in this small beach town (with a summer population that explodes) to get food and beer, and some places have a nice beer selection. With two craft breweries within a 7-mile radius, it’s not as though good beer is unavailable. But this is the first and only place dedicated entirely to “beers we like,” according to Keith.
Tap Time has 14 beers on tap at any given moment, and those choices are pretty much the bailiwick of personable Meghan, who used to slake the thirst of economy-minded customers across the street at The Beer Den inside Lowes Foods. Meghan knows her beers, too, so she’s great asset for Tap Time.
“We have our preferences, of course,” Christa says, “but we give Meghan full rein as to what other kegs we should be putting on.”
The rotating beer menu has something for everyone, from a sessionable 5% Sweetwater Czech Pilsner to an 8% Hi-Wire Stout to Edward Teach’s Peaches to the outstanding Allagash Curieux.
Better still, if there’s a beer you’d like to see in the Tap Time repertoire, grab the Beer Wish List book and make a suggestion. Yours truly made the very first entry in the book on our visit, so we’ll see how long it takes for The Boy King, a DIPA from Coast Brewing in North Myrtle Beach, to make a cameo appearance.
Flights are also available, and while Tap Time doesn’t sell Grunts (the Yankee name for Crowlers) or Growlers, they’ll be happy to fill yours if you bring it in.
Keith, Christa, Meghan and the rest of the Tap Time staff are very friendly, accommodating and quite knowledgeable about beer. LThey’re also fully versed in N.C. beer law, which at times can seem quirky. For example, if you go up to the bar to order beers for you and a friend, the law says they can’t serve you unless the friend is standing or seated next to you. I had to have the missus at my side (not that there’s anything wrong with that) to have Meghan deliver two beers to us.
That’s not an issue if you’re both already at the bar, but if one wanted to be a gentleman and bring back some beers to ladies sitting at one of the comfortable tables, some — or all of them — would have to get up to join him. It might seem a bit odd, but that’s no fault of Tap Time. They are properly scrupulous about adhering to the law, and if they’re going to succeed, they should be.
Speaking of succeeding, it was nice to see the owner of Makai Brewing (just 3 miles up the road) and his GM pop in to give support to the new kid on the block. Having the general populace become more familiar with and knowledgeable about good beer is to the advantage of everyone in the business.
There was no shortage of model-quality folks enjoying the grand opening event. I was flattered that one of them from nearby Bolivia actually recognized The PubScout and came over to say hello!
Keith, Christa and I had a preliminary — very preliminary — discussion about the plausibility of doing The PubScout’s Tutored Beer Tastings beer sessions, which are catching on quite nicely here in OIB, at the Tap Time bar. Instead of being private, which they are now, Tap Time would open them to the general public. Judging by Tap Time’s opening day enthusiasm, it could work very well.
It’s all in the hopper for now, but at the moment, beach town beer nuts in southeastern Brunswick County can celebrate the opening of an establishment that offers only good beer at reasonable prices.
You know. The kind of “Beers We Like.”