A half-gallon — 64 ounces or four pints — no matter how you do the measuring, growlers are meant for sharing. With Thanksgiving feasts fast-approaching, bringing varying extensions of family and friends together, the beer growler serves as the perfect accoutrement to scenes of celebration and homecoming.
Earlier this year, Charlotte welcomed its first growler fill shop when The Beer Growler opened at 1427 South Blvd on the fringe of Uptown, essentially across the street from World of Beer. The store has 45 rotating taps with a focus on fresh, local, regional and a few national breweries. In the near future, expect a few more taps featuring cider and sodas.
Owners Brandee, Jessica and Kristen finished topping off a few growler refills to fill us in on their operation, and we can’t to welcome The Beer Growler to QCBF on Jan. 31.
Tell us about your first beer growler experience, and how did it lead to you opening Charlotte’s first-ever growler fill shop?
We were celebrating Brandee’s birthday in Savannah, GA, when we came across this growler filling store. The owner was incredibly nice and informative so each of us picked a beer, got our growler and went on our way. The next day we went back to the store to get a fresh growler filled to bring home. It was on that ride home that it occurred to us that Charlotte had nothing like this, and as huge craft beer fans, it became our mission to open Charlotte’s first growler fill store.
For those unsure about growler care and upkeep, what exactly should one do once his or her beer growler is finished? Bonus question: what is your gnarliest growler refill experience?
We’re a very welcoming bunch at The Beer Growler. Any size, shape, or type of growler; we’ll clean, sanitize and fill it. Because we’ll fill any growler it also means we see all kinds of conditions, and yes, that does include some gnarly ones [laughs]. Nothing too over-the-top comes to mind, but one guy brought in what must have been a relic from his garage, caked with dust and complete with scum. But we got it totally cleaned up for him and I’ve never seen a customer leave our store so happy.
In terms of care, there’s not much to it. We suggest a good rinse, then drop a little detergent into it, or Star San for our homebrewer friends. Keep an inch or two of water in there before sealing it up nice and tight. Then, bring it back to us of course [laughs].
How do you select your tap lineup and what trends have you noticed so far?
It wasn’t originally our intention to feature almost all North Carolina beers, but what we’ve found is that North Carolina beers are so plentiful that we can maintain a great variety without really having to go outside the state.
Beers that are not bottled or canned and not necessarily distributed in our immediate market are the beers that sell really well. For example, Raleigh Brewing Company and Asheville Brewing’s seasonals are very popular. Any beer we literally have to travel to and pick up ourselves is going to sell well, which tells us we have a customer base that is totally dialed-in to the beer scene. We also update our taps via social media pretty much in real-time and we’re getting solid feedback right away.
The Beer Growler has recently introduced growler punch cards and flights. Anything else new we can expect in the future?
Yes, we’re seeing people start with our 4-beer flights and then select their growler. The Frequent Filler Cards are being redeemed so that’s been great for our regulars. In terms of new offerings, we love hosting beer education nights. Cam from Great Lakes was our first brewery presenter and was awesome, so we’ll continue to invite breweries to serve up knowledge and fresh beer. We also continue to explore the possibility of serving pints, but just like our brewery friends have experienced, rezoning takes time. In the meantime, we’re going to keep doing what we do best. So if you have an empty growler, we can fix that [laughs].