Bart Mendoza 5 a.m., Dec. 8
Li'l Italy's Art District has traded reds and whites for ales and lagers with the arrival of Bottlecraft (http://www.bottlecraftbeer.com), a craft beer bottle shop which recently took over the spot that recently housed Tango Wine Company (which had its final fling in February). Shops of this type are becoming increasingly popular, both locally and throughout the country, as the demand for craft beer continues to grow at a steady pace.
Value addeds that set this minimalist space apart from contemporaries with greater aesthetic appeal and more obvious charms are beer flights. Owner Brian Jensen (a NYC transplant who spent the better part of a decade immersed in the wine industry and aims to give craft beer the same treatment and respect fine vino typically receives) selects themes for a pair of flights then pulls four beers from his extensive stock and pours them for interested imbibers. Flight themes, which are usually focused on a particular style, brewery or region of the world, change daily.
As the space (which currently consists of little more than a sales counter, a few tables and chairs and shelf upon shelf of beers from around the world) continues to take shape, Jensen will begin holding beer education classes. He also intends to offer local breweries the chance to take over his space and use it as a "pop-up" tasting bar at which to showcase their wares via what he calls "beer residencies."