I have always thought books and beer — two of my favorite things — go together very well. After all, what is better than sitting on the beach with a good book and a cold beer on a sunny afternoon?
It seems a number of independent bookstores — probably in order to attract more traffic in the age of Amazon — have begun selling beer, wine and even mixed drinks in their stores. The practice has become so popular publications as diverse as USA Today and Men’s Journal have recently run articles on some of the best bookstore bars.
Even book behemoth Barnes & Noble has announced it plans to sell beer and wine, although at only four brand-new stores it is building, and none near us on the Gulf Coast. Perhaps if it gets more people to buy books, we will get a Barnes & Noble with a bar.
Fortunately, we don’t have to wait for Barnes & Noble to open a new store here, as there is already a great bookstore in our area with a bar (and an ampersand) in it. Page & Palette is a Fairhope tradition and regionally well-respected independent bookstore. It already had a coffee shop (which, it seems, every bookstore now has), but last year it also opened a bar, The Book Cellar, as well.
The Book Cellar has a nice selection of craft beers, including 10 on tap, which rotate regularly, many of them regional. On my last visit to The Book Cellar one of my favorites, Hattiesburg’s Southern Prohibition Crowd Control, was on tap, as was AstroNut Brown Ale from Madison’s Rocket Republic Brewing Co. I had never tasted anything from that brewery and was really pleased with it, as it had a nice, deep color and a toasted malt flavor. My wife tried another northern Alabama beer, the Cheating Heart, a very good, strong IPA from Huntsville’s Yellowhammer Brewing. I’ll be looking out for more styles from both of those breweries, as they (hopefully) become more available in our area.
The Book Cellar is a comfortable spot, opening into the back of Page & Palette. The small bar has room for about 10 stools, and there are a couple of tall tables with bar stools, as well as some soft chairs and a couch to lounge on as well. There is a space to host speakers, which they do regularly, and there is also live music on a regular basis.
The Book Cellar is a great place to have a drink or two, meet some friends and listen to an author or musician. It promises to become as much a Fairhope staple as Page & Palette. Check it out when you get a chance.
In the shameless promotion department, I’ll be signing copies of my new book (which, alas, has nothing to do with beer) at Page & Palette during Fairhope’s Art Walk on Friday, May 5, so grab a pint and say hello!