NEW BERN - Dustin Canestorp is on what he calls Stage 2 of his American Dream, and he?s not the only one enjoying the ride.
The Marine Major, who has nearly two decades of military service, has recently opened a new Beer Army storefront on Highway 70 in New Bern near Coastal Carolina Regional Airport. The store, which currently boasts 400 different beer choices, has the goal of offering 1,000 selections by the end of the year.
And don't think the irony of a Marine opening a store called Beer Army is lost on Canestorp.
"I do catch it for that from a lot from the guys," Canestorp said. "Beer Marines, well ... Beer Army sounds better, and beerarmy.com was available, so that's what I took."
The Marines aren't without representation in the Beer Army. The store's logo features a graphic created from a photo of Canestorp's snarling Doberman -- his Devil Dog, so to speak.
While he was deployed overseas, it was an Iraqi interpreter who triggered the idea in Canestorp's head of the American Dream. That interpreter wanted to one day come to the U.S. to pursue his, and Canestorp realized that he hadn't yet thought of what he'd do once his military career was over.
"When I did decide to pursue my American Dream, I decided I was going to dive head first into brewing," Canestorp said.
But that?s the endgame.
Canestorp has been brewing at home since 2008, and he does have the goal to one day run a craft brewery in New Bern. He knew there was a lot of work that had to take place first.
Stage 1, he said, was building an interest (or seeing if there was one) in what would be his product.
The store, which is already open, allows patrons to pick from the wide variety of bottles (and even a few cans) or have a taste of one of the 11 beers on draught.
"It?s easily the best selection," said Joe Carorette, a customer who was at the Beer Army Outpost last week. "I?ve never bought the same beer twice."
Canestorp has plans to eventually transform his bottle armory into a micro-brewery.
"We first wanted to introduce the area to craft beer," Canestorp said. "We really want to try some different things (with the beer we will brew), and we?re excited to make New Bern a place where people come for craft beer."
As he waits to launch that third stage of his American Dream, Canestorp said he?d raise a glass and hopes people enjoy Stage 2 for a while.