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.
Last year at about this time, I attended a food and drink preview at Safeco Field for the 2015 Seattle Mariners season. It was an impressive spread with a wide variety of options like crab sandwiches, burgers, gourmet hot dogs, flatbread pizzas and more, plus a wide array of locally sourced craft beers, wines and even high end cocktails.
Well, I’ve been invited back again this year for the 2016 food and drink preview, and I’m eager to see what delicious new items and what new and returning craft beers and other drinks I’ll find available for this season. One thing is for sure, a big feature of the 2016 menu will be gourmet sandwiches, using high end ingredients like Beecher’s Cheese, Hempler’s Bacon and Baker Boys Northwest Brioche Bread. I love a good sandwich, so that sounds pretty good to me.
Last year, I told you about a new idea Lagunitas Brewing Company had for bringing new meaning to the word ‘Fresh’. They had released a new Fresh Hop Pale Ale named Born Yesterday. Just as the name implied, Lagunitas wanted to brew a Fresh Hop Ale, and then have it delivered to their main markets by the very next day.
The delivery to most markets was a success. Unfortunately, the deliveries to Washington got delayed and took a day or two longer. Hopefully, that won’t be the case again. This year’s batch of Born Yesterday was brewed and bottled yesterday, 10/26/2015, and should begin arriving today in select markets across the nation (including Seattle).
I’ve never given a lot of thought to bottle openers or to ‘venting’ cans. Since I drink the majority of my beer these days either on tap or from a growler, I don’t often have use for a bottle opener or much reason to vent a can. I’m also, in general, not a huge fan of cans anyway. I totally understand why they’re back, why so many craft breweries are canning their beers and why they’re popular but, if I have to purchase packaged beer, I’ve always preferred the bottle over the can. It’s just my personal preference.
In addition, my days of drinking straight from the bottle or the can are pretty much over. I used to drink beer that way, back in my college days, but no more. Perhaps some of you think that makes me a beer ‘snob’. I don’t agree. I just prefer to drink my beer as it was intended to be: out of a glass. Granted, if I’m offered a beer somewhere in a bottle or a can and there’s no glassware available, I will go ahead and drink it from the bottle/can. Again, it’s just not my preference.
Having said that, I know that I may be in the minority. Not everyone drinks the majority of their beer on tap or in growlers as I do. If they did, there wouldn’t be much of a reason for breweries to package their beers now would there? Also, I obviously have need of a bottle opener at times. Not every beer I drink comes from a tap or growler. We’ve also reached the point where some beers only come in cans. So I do occasionally find myself opening a can rather than a bottle. You can’t fight change. So, when the Snake Bite Co. contacted me about trying out their product, I figured I’d give it a look.