Tucked away off of Rt 47 in the town of Clayton, NJ, sits one of the best beer purveyors in all of South Jersey, Clayton Liquors. I first heard of Clayton Liquors and, more specifically, owner Raj from my friends in the brewing industry last year. I heard tales of a giant crowler/growler station in Clayton that was killing it with 18 taps, with most of them dedicated to local beer. I stopped in and immediately knew that I had arrived in beer paradise.
The store exterior itself is nondescript, a simple white, 2 story building that looks like it may have been a home at some point. It sits on the corner of Delsea Drive (Rt 47) and East Academy Rd and, at first glance, looks like any other small town purveyor of spirits. But once you step inside that all changes. I took a few steps into the store and looked to my left, and there it was, the monster 18 tap (now 22) station that was filled with mostly great local beers along with some really hard to find drafts from out of town. I saw Cape May, Brotherton, Three 3’s, Tuckahoe, Ludlam Island, Slack Tide, Carton, Kane, Tonewood, Tomfoolery, and Glasstown offerings next to hard to find offerings from Pipeworks, Shebeen, St. Bernardus, and Troegs. It was like I woke up in beer heaven, the only question was “how many crowlers can I take home before Mrs. Beer Scene starts questioning my research process?” What also struck me was that is was 3:30pm on a Wednesday and there were people waiting for fills. Orchestrating the movements at the filling station was Raj, the owner of Clayton Liquors. Raj is a guy you immediately like when you meet him. He engages all of his customers as if he has known them forever and encourages his clientele to try a small sip of whatever they want before they purchase. Raj, who doesn’t drink himself, knows what beers the people want and works tirelessly to get them. When I was there, he took calls from at least 2 people in hopes of getting their new beer and was 2 for 2. “I do what I do for my customers” Raj told me, “I want to keep moving beer, keeping it fresh and different”, which is a little tough in this Big Beer run business.
“I do what I do for my customers. I want to keep moving beer, keeping it fresh and different”
~ Raj, Owner, Clayton Liquors
Raj is the consummate success story. He grew up in India and emigrated to Delaware in 1997. After working jobs at 7-11 and the like, his family opened their own convenience store. Then, in 2015, Raj and his family purchased Clayton Liquors and entered the spirits business. The store was much more modest back then, sporting only 8 taps and a small selection of craft beer. Raj quickly saw the opportunity that was growing in the beer industry and doubled the size of his growler station to 16 and started using many of those taps for local beer. The addition of a Crowler machine made it even easier to try more than one of the many beers that he had on tap. Raj also has one of the finest selections of bottled and canned craft beers in South Jersey, and now has 22 rotating taps full of great beer.
Raj also has a great selection of kegged beer on hand and is always trying to find the next big thing. I know a lot of beer purists out there frown at this, but this is Raj giving the people what they want. Plus his support of local beer is one of the best in all of South Jersey. He shows deference to the locals and looking at his shelves it is very evident by the multitude of local beer that is stocked.
So, whether you are looking for your old standby or are trying to expand your beer drinking horizons, take the trip to Clayton and grab some great local beers. Raj keeps his offerings up to date on Beer Menus and announces new beers on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as well. Cheers to Raj and his family for his great support of the local brewing community.
For more information on Clayton Liquors visit http://www.claytonliquors.com/
Have you been to Circle Liquors? What did you think?