Tim estimates that 60-70% of his stock is Michigan craft beer, with the remainder encompassing craft beers from across America and around the world, along with a small sampling of wines, meads, and local charcuterie and chocolates. The beer selection is partially driven by customer demand, but most of the offerings come from Tim’s vast experience and his voracious reading and research, using web sites like Rate Beer and Beer Advocate to further his knowledge.
In an industry as expansive and diverse as craft beer, many less adventurous patrons might be unwilling to risk purchasing a 6-pack taste unseen. (Ed. Note: Please pardon the mixed metaphor. “Taste untasted” didn’t sound right!) To mitigate some of the risks involved, customers at 8 Degrees Plato can build their own 6-packs, a practice that now seems commonplace at many stores, but which this author saw first at 8 Degrees. And with new beers arriving almost daily, there really is no better way to sample everything one’s heart, or palate, desires.
8 Degrees Plato hosts several special events and classes each month, all in the name of educating the masses on the wide world of beer. Every Friday from 6-8 pm, Tim and his wife Brigid offer a beer/cider/mead tasting in store. Each week features a different brewery or beer style (see their Facebook page, which is updated daily, for details), and at times a representative of the brewery in the spotlight may be on hand. Some Friday events include a food pairing as well, including an excellent “Ciders and Sliders” event this author attended earlier this summer. Throughout the month of July, a Monday night “Intro to Beer Styles” class was taught by AHBA and BJCP member Fred Bonjour. The class sold out all four Mondays, and Tim hopes to host more classes based on Fred’s availability. And to further drum up loyalty and taste experimentation, Tim offers $0.15 for returnables on some Sundays, provided one spends the deposit money at 8 Degrees, of course.
In the future, Tim plans to expand the size of his store in order to stock more beer choices. The Ferndale community has been very supportive of the fledgling endeavor, and 8 Degrees supports them right back with various charitable donations and publicity. However, Tim is not opposed to expanding into other welcoming cities. He dreams of small stores with personality – stores that reflect the craft beer movement. And with regular customers from as far away as the Thumb and West Branch, one can see that 8 Degrees Plato has truly arrived and is solidly fulfilling its goal of educating, and slaking the thirst of, the masses.