Once again I got back out on the road searching out the best retail outlets for beer in the AC area. I said before how lucky we are to have great selections to purchase off the shelves. I only wish more bars would step up and begin pouring better choices.

There is a new bottle shop in town and it's called Atlantic City Bottle Co., at 648 N. Albany Ave in Atlantic City. Expecting to see a larger venue, I was surprised to find a much smaller store but its elegance and inventory more than make up for the size. The beer cooler holds a wide assortment of styles and labels from which you can make up your own sixpack from breweries such as Great Lakes, Troegs, Victory, Ithaca, Omme-gang and Dogfish Head. There is also an assortment of large bottles from Belgium: Delirium Tre-mens and Nocturnem and one of my favorite beers of all times, Duchesse de Bourgogne. They also stock a wonderful myriad of wines and have one of the best selection of whiskies I have found anywhere. It may not be the biggest, but it has the most high-end brands I've seen. I was even given access to the "special stash" hidden in the back where the pricier wines and whiskies are kept. I must say that the Laphraoig 25 was tempting!

The retail showroom was kept smaller for a good reason though: They are opening a taproom/restaurant in the rear, with eight beer taps and four taps of wine. The elegantly appointed setting will also play host to beer and wine tastings and dinners. Though still under construction when I visited, I was assured that it would be up and pouring very soon. The only shortcoming I noticed was the paucity of parking, but a short walk around the corner is worth the time. Be sure to stop in soon and receive a 10 percent grand opening discount. I look forward to some great events here.

After two years of being in business, Joe Canal's on the Black Horse Pike has grown into a craft beer haven. Starting out with just a couple of aisles, it has now expanded to the entire rear of the establishment. Despite a couple of the rows dedicated to the megabrews, there is an astounding selection of styles and labels from all over the world. Masterfully organized by manager John Mirsch, it is not difficult to find your favorite brewery's beers. Of course, it is fun just to browse and see what is new on the market. Mirsch keeps up with the latest and greatest from all the distributors.

His favorites are IPAs and Belgian styles though he stocks whatever he feels will sell. He told me that he is about at his limit of labels he can fit on the shelves and that waste is not a factor.

"We seem to be able to sell almost anything I bring in," he says.

Mirsch enjoys the fact that he has been given more space to work with than the sister location on Fire Road and takes advantage of it. I like hearing that as it means that this sector is growing more popular in the area and that the tastes are varied. Be sure to stop in and see what hits your fancy.

A little further up the road in Mays Landing is Magaziner Canal's. Pulling into the parking lot, you are greeted by a host of celebrities, well, not real ones of course, but lifesize statues of personalities like Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, even Batman!

Formerly just Canal's, I was always disappointed with the meager variety there, but it seems that they have decided to kick it up a notch and devote more shelf space to a wider selection of craft beers.

They have even installed a 10-head growler filling station (so make sure you grab a growler before you go)and now have a large section devoted to single bottles where you can make up a sixpack and get a 10 percent discount. They also have a wine-tasting bar with 32 wines on tap. It's certainly worth a look-see when you're in the area.

Take advantage of what we have here and patronize your local retailers!



Aug. 13 - Sam Adams Dinner at FIN in Tropicana. A five-course dinner with eight beers and expertise by Jeff Martin of Boston Beer Co. and local beer guru Gary Monterosso, $75 per person, which includes tax and gratuity. Check Tropicana.net/events

for complete menu.