What happens when you take the basic concept of a growler refill station and decide to take it National? Well, what happens is, you get something like Growler USA. Founded in 2013 by Dan White (CEO), Dave Shaw (President), and Vern Whittaker (Retired CFO), Growler USA now has 10 locations across the U.S. and are slated to open 50 more throughout 2017-2018.
Each location boasts up to 100 taps of beer (including microbrewed craft beers), hard cider, draft wine & kombucha, plus an extensive food menu. Their tap list varies by location, of course, in order to offer locally-sourced options for their patrons, and their “True to the Brew” system ensures that each brewer’s vision for their product is honored. Things are kept tightly controlled all the way from keg delivery and storage (using ‘gentle’ keg handling systems to avoid sloshing), to a meticulously maintained tap system and the proper glassware for each pour. Yesterday afternoon I took a trek out to their Redmond location, courtesy $30 in credit from Growler USA, to see what they had to offer first hand.
Growler USA, Redmond, opened just last August, is located at the corner of 160th Ave NE and NE 83rd St, just one block off Redmond Way inside the Milehouse apartment building. They’re a moderately sized place, with a welcoming atmosphere, enough seating for about 60 patrons and offer child-friendly seating. I arrived shortly after noon and was greeted warmly by owner, Ann Humes, who showed me around a bit before I took my seat at the bar.
The tap list at Growler USA, Redmond is extensive with 105 taps (the most of any place on the East side), and they carry a large number of locally-sourced craft beers, ciders, wines and more (including non-alcoholic options). It was also nice to see that they don’t have any ‘macro-brew’ taps like Bud. or Coors. Their recently upgraded menu boards are powered by Untappd, which seems to be growing in popularity lately. I’ve seen new Untappd powered menu boards pop up at a few other places in just the past few months. They display the tap list well, and many patrons get a kick out of seeing their Untappd check-ins appear up on the board.
After perusing the tap list for a few minutes, I selected a Barley Brown’s Fresh Hop Pallet Jack IPA. It was light, refreshing and had a nice tropical/floral hop character that wasn’t overpowering. They had several other enticing, local choices available as well including the recently released Black Raven Wisdom Seeker IPA, Chainline Polaris Pilsner , Postdoc Kilty MacSporran Scottish Ale, Bale Breaker Field 41 Pale, Seapine Positron IPA and many, many more.
Growler USA has a research and development team that is constantly working to create delicious recipe selections for the Growler USA cookbook. The food menu at Growler USA, Redmond, however, has been recently updated. They took a departure just a bit from the standard corporate suggested menu and added a few new choices including a Meatball Hoagie made with Angus beef and pork, Grass-Fed Ground Chuck Sliders, Corned Beef Hash and Shepherd’s Pie.
Since yesterday was a bit chilly and overcast, I was in the mood for something that would warm me up a bit so I selected the Shepherd’s Pie. Made in-house with Australian sourced lamb, it was rich, savory and really hit the spot. I was just finishing up my Fresh Hop Pallet Jack when it arrived so, to accompany my pie, I selected Green Flash Brewing’s Dia De Los Serranos Imperial Stout. The subtle spiciness of the Stout paired wonderfully with my Shepherd’s Pie.
As I enjoyed my meal I was looking up at their TV menu boards, seeing my latest Untappd check-ins and considering a growler fill. Unfortunately, this is the one somewhat negative aspect I found at Growler USA (especially considering their name). Their growler prices are rather on the high side. I know that part of this is due to the corporate overhead that is an unfortunate part of the price of operating any franchise, but I think they have a bit of work to do in this area. Their average 64 oz growler fill price is about $22, with some being as high as $30 (Humboldt Gianduja Chocolate Ale) or $32 (Ghostfish Grapefruit IPA). Also, many beers were only offered in 32 oz fills.
As I was discussing growler pricing with Ann, her husband and co-owner, Greg Humes, arrived. To give them an idea of what I was talking about, I pulled up the list of growler prices at a few other local places in and around Seattle on my phone. They were a bit surprised at the disparity of prices from place to place, but assured me that they would be looking at their pricing structure and seeing if they could make some adjustments that would make filling a growler there a more appealing prospect.
With Seattle Beer Week (SBW) kicking off this coming Thursday the 4th, I also wanted to let you know about the SBW Eastside Brewer’s Showcase event that Growler USA, Redmond will be hosting on Tuesday, May 9th.
Here are the event details from Growler USA, Redmond:
Eastside Brewer’s Showcase event at Growler USA, Redmond
8300 160th Ave NE, Redmond, WA 98052
Tuesday May 9th at 4:30pm
Growler USA is a new craft brew pub in downtown Redmond that my wife and partner Ann and I just opened last August (2016). With 105 taps, we boast the “Most Taps on the Eastside,” and we’ve put together an Eastside brewer’s showcase event for Seattle Beer Week. With such a good amount of great beer over here on the Eastside of Seattle, we knew a focus on the Eastside brewing community would be a worthwhile endeavor!
We have 7 confirmed Eastside brewers to top the bill and be present, with at least two taps each, at our first multiple brewer’s event. Several other will be represented as well.
- Big Block
- Mac & Jacks
- 20 Corners
- Black Raven
- Des Voigne
- Locust Cider
- Chatter Creek Cider
Not to mention lots of amazing Seattle and WA state breweries. We’ll have the Bale Breaker official SBW IPA and the R&R Collaboration on tap too!
With their extensive and varied tap selection, a well-rounded menu and a great location just about a mile off 520, Growler USA, Redmond seems like a great place to stop in for a few craft beers, a quick lunch, a hearty dinner or to catch a game with friends or family. As I mentioned, their growler pricing could use some adjustment, but overall they seem like their off to a great start.
Drink responsibly and stay safe out there.