Growlers are a growing part of the Georgia beer scene
While some may argue that the top beer news in Georgia for 2011 is the end of a statewide ban on Sunday alcohol sales, craft beer fans in the Peach State are more likely to say the introduction and growth of the growler market is by far the top beer news of last year.
A growler is a container of fresh draft beer intended for off-premise consumption. Such containers can be plastic, glass or even stainless steel and – when one travels through states that sell fresh-filled growlers – the containers are an excellent means of picking up local and regional beers available only on draft.
States allowing this form of beer retail each have their own governing statutes on growlers. States such as California and Wyoming allow growlers to be filled at breweries, while some three-tier distribution states, such as Georgia and Alabama, do not. In Georgia, growlers for off-premise consumption are allowed to be filled at retail package establishments that do not sell liquor, based on the city’s or the municipality’s approval.
Early in 2011 the first Georgia growler shop opened in Athens. Simply called The Beer Growler, it opened with 20 rotating taps, which soon expanded to 25. Next, Ale Yeah!, a dedicated craft beer shop in Decatur, announced the addition of eight taps for growlers. As soon as the City of Atlanta approved growler sales, local beer mecca Hop City was ready with 16 taps.
Beer fans were elated and Road Trips for Beer took on a new meaning in Georgia.
As growler fans continued to seek out fresh beer offerings closer to them, occasionally they’d hear of a random wine or sandwich shop adding a few rotating taps. t is not uncommon for craft beer fans to drive a couple hours to refill growlers.
To refill, a customer returns a rinsed out growler in exchange for one that’s been cleaned and sanitized. Most growler shops will gladly fill growlers from other stores, provided the government alcohol warning is displayed on the vessel.
In August, The Beer Growler opened a 40-tap location in Avondale Estates, its first Metro Atlanta store.
“We’re glad to help bring the joy of fresh craft beer to the masses,” says The Beer Growler partner Sean Galvin.
In the northwest corner of the state, Beverage World in Fort Ogelthorpe added 20 taps in August Customers from three states visit the shop, which offers growlers in three sizes. Back in Metro Atlanta, two Whole Foods Market locations added growler stations. In Duluth, The Best of Brews opened in November with 30 rotating taps.
“Forty percent of our sales revolve around draft sales,” said Ale Yeah! proprietor Eddie Holley.
Growlers in Georgia also make available new items for brewerania collectors, with custom art 32 oz. growlers and deals with local breweries to provide brewery branded growlers. Growler shops also sell a wide range of beer glasses, beer merchandise and stock craft beer bottle/can inventories.
Most of the growler shops keep updated tap lists online. A few shops update followers on Facebook and Twitter for up-to-the-minute tap changes.
The beginning of 2012 was very much alive with growler news. Hop City plans to expand to 60 taps, as well as open a store in Birmingham, Alabama. In Cumming, The Crafty Draught announced a January 14 opening with 20 taps.
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