As Michael Brawley hops on a brownish-orange moped named "Buddy," fully equipped for riding, his appearance simultaneously confirms and belies the fact he is the resident beer aficionado at Brawley's Beverage. His store at 4620 Park Road, which he manages, has become Charlotte's highest-rated specialty beer and wine shop, according to BeerAdvocate.com.
Creative Loafing: How did Brawley's Beverage get started?
Michael Brawley: I was bartending at the Visulite and Elizabeth Billiards and delivering yachts and just sort of couch surfing. Then I met my now wife and realized I wasn't going to be able to gallivant around delivering yachts for perpetuity and that I'd have to find a more legitimate income. I grew up in a beer and wine store, in this building, in fact. So it was a natural thing. I was born to do this. All roads led this way -- the path of least resistance, actually.
What excites you about beer? What don't you like?
Personally, what excites me is the first one I have every day. As long as you get that one good beer, crisp, refreshing -- it's something very human, it's been with us for a long time. What pisses me off about beer is diet beer. I say drink less; just drink better. Instead of having six bad beers, drink three really good beers.
What do you think you would be doing if you didn't run a beverage shop?
I know exactly what I would be doing. I would be running a sailing vessel; I would be a captain on a private yacht or a passenger schooner, or in prison. No, that's what I used to do for a living. I actually met my wife while racing against her on Lake Norman. We had raced against each other for years before we met. I don't believe in coincidence, but meeting her was truly kismet.