Clayton Times Profile: Brandon Nickelson, Clayton’s Craft Beer Cellar Owner

There’s plenty of places for Claytonites to grab a drink within city limits, but with almost 1,000 different craft beers to choose from — it would be hard to go wrong with Craft Beer Cellar.

Located at 8113 Maryland Ave., Clayton’s Craft Beer Cellar first got its start in 2014 and offers an obvious plethora of beers to take home, there’s even a small bar located at the back of the store where customers can grab a brew and relax. The Clayton location also offers catering to private events, and beer keg deliveries along with wine and liquor deliveries as well. 

We had a chance to talk to Brandon Nickelson, the owner of Clayton’s Craft Beer Cellar, to ask him about the history of Clayton’s Craft Beer Cellar and see if he could offer advice to anyone that’s wanting to expand their beer drinking palate.

Brandon Nickelson

Clayton Times: How did Craft Beer Cellar first get its start? How many locations are there?

Nickelson: Craft Beer Cellars is a chain of stores, so theres several of them. I own the one here in Clayton and the reason I decided to go with Craft Beer Cellar and particularly in Clayton is because over the course of my career, I took many, many career path changes. At one point in time I worked at a store that’s very similar to this, where you can mix your own six pack, there were beers represented from all over the world, particularly locals. It was just something that I fell in love with and this is all the way back to 1995.

This little shop was in Florida when I was going to college and just a small little hole in the wall place called World of Beer. It was a really neat concept but it was kind of a gross little store. It was like all fluorescent lights, linoleum floors, you could smoke cigarettes in there. It was just the epitome of disgusting but the concept always stuck with me and it was just something that I immediately fell in love with and always knew even back when I was in my 20s that I was going to come back to eventually.

Craft Beer Cellar here in Clayton this is like everything that I kind of envisioned over the course of my college career and my professional career, it was just something that I always wanted to do. With the addition of our little bar back (in the Clayton location) there it’s just something that I always had in mind.

Clayton Times: Why Clayton?

Nickelson: It was my decision specifically. Each of the stores is independently owned and operated and we made the choice of Clayton because of the city itself. Clayton is a self-contained city, big residential population, it’s a big commercial and office population. It’s just a great city that even back in 2014 was very highly on the rise and now in 2018, we’ve got five different residential and office developments going at the same time. It’s pretty cool man. I knew that the growth was going to be explosive even back then. 

The residential stuff, the Centene Complex — Clayton is just a real neat, dynamic city for how small it is. It just operates like a big city, it’s amazing. There’s always a good lunchtime crowd that we’ll get in here. Folks will swing by after they grab a bite to eat just to take some beer to go with them or after work (our store) is right in the middle and where everybody kind of hops on over and we have our happy hour almost every single day. It’s not exactly what we envisioned when we opened the place to be a happy hour joint, but it’s what it’s turned into and nothing wrong with that. 

Clayton Times: How many different beers would you estimate Craft Beer Cellar offers?

Nickelson: The last time I did a count there were 998 (different beers) so we were just shy of 1,000 but then we lost a couple of breweries so I know that it’s probably around 970, somewhere around there. 

Clayton Times: For a person who only drinks light domestic beer, how would you help them expand their beer drinking horizon?

Nickelson: Now that style of beer is getting more popular. There’s a craft lager movement where almost every big brewery and every big craft brewery is making a lager. Even here locally we’ve got Urban Chestnut that’s making Urban Underdog so that’s just a light, craft lager, an easy drinking beer that appeals to everybody. 

So while that’s the easy layup answer, we’ve got something that I know that specific customer is going to like — there’s also a couple beers that we suggest to people who say, ‘I like Budweiser but I want to try something different,’ and things like that are going to be like a nice, light, wheat beer maybe an American pale ale with a touch of bitterness to it. So just something to broaden the palate and introduce people to the world of craft beer — a pretty big world. 

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