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 Friday, December 2nd, my wife and I attended a beer tasting dinner cruise courtesy of Waterways Cruises And Events, featuring beers from Pike Brewing Company. This is the cruise I told you about just last month, which took us around Lake Union and Lake Washington as we enjoyed 5 different Pike Brewing Company beers and enjoyed a delicious, 4-course dinner.
Apart from a few somewhat loud and annoying shipmates at the next table and a small technical difficulty involving the last beer of the evening, we had a great meal and a wonderful time. As a special bonus that we weren’t expecting, Charles and Rose Ann Finkel, founders of Pike Brewing Company, were in attendance on the cruise (as well Pike’s Jon Gores). Charles took the time to visit each and every table, and spoke to us all at length about his passion for beer, Pike Brewing Company and the beers we would be enjoying during the cruise.
Roach Coach. When I was growing up, any sort of mobile food truck you’d see around (usually at places like constructions sites, day-laborer gathering spots or run-down, industrial business parks) had this unfortunate moniker, no matter the actual name of the truck. In fact, most food trucks back in those days didn’t have any type of name or brand. Most of the food those early trucks carried was also either pre-made and pre-packaged or, if it was made in the truck, it was pretty sub-standard cuisine. It wasn’t the type of food you’d go out of your way to find by any means.
That’s all changed. Food trucks today are not the ‘roach coaches’ of old. Following health department regulations as strict as ‘brick and mortar’ restaurants (and in Washington, requiring an actual brick and mortar kitchen for most food preparation), today’s food trucks offer a diverse and delectable take on many different types of cuisine. In Seattle, competition is fierce, so anything a food truck operator can do to set themselves apart from their competition in an appealing way is a big plus.
In 2015, when Two Beers Brewing Company (CBM Sponsor) and Seattle Cider Company decided to expand their taproom, The Woods, yet again, they were looking for a local food truck company to partner with. They found that partner in Bread and Circuses, a local food truck that was enticed by the idea of such a partnership. Together, Two Beers & Seattle Cider could offer food from Bread and Circuses inside The Woods taproom, without having to actually operate the kitchen themselves. The result is an inviting combination of great craft beer, great local cider and great food, all in a comfortable, casual atmosphere and all under one roof.
Last April, I told you about a preview event at Safeco Field where I, along with several other members of the local media, were invited to sample some of the food and drink set to be offered for the 2014 Seattle Mariners baseball season. It was quite a spread, with delicious food including: Dungeness crab rolls, ‘Dirty’ Tots, Manny’s Beer Battered Fish And Chips, and several other delicious offerings. Plus, of course, one of the best beer selections offered at any major league baseball stadium.
I’ve been invited back again this year to check out some new offerings for this year’s menu, including: Bacon Wrapped Hot Dogs, the Seattle Burger, Edgar’s Tacos and more. Plus the addition this year of Pike Brewing Company beers on tap and Peet’s Coffee.
We have some great craft beer bottle shops here in the Seattle area. No matter where you are around the Sound, you’re never really too far from a craft beer bottle shop that offers a wide selection of craft beers from the Northwest, the rest of the nation and indeed the rest of the World. The only real limitation these bottle shops have to what they can offer you (beyond any possible space limitations) is determined by distribution. Not all breweries distribute their beers to the Northwest, so there are always plenty of beers out there that we may long to try but don’t have much luck getting our hands on, unless we take a trip out of state to track them down. There are several local breweries that produce beers that can be difficult to get your hands on as well, unless you have the time to make a trip to the brewery for their release.
There is, of course, a booming craft beer ‘trade’ going on all the time for beers that aren’t distributed here. There are Facebook groups, forums, online clubs, etc. where people arrange to trade a few local and coveted craft beer selections with someone else who can send them something that we just can’t get in our local craft bottle shops. While this type of trading is a common practice, it’s actually illegal. Anyone trading beers in this way is illegally shipping alcohol across state lines and violating liquor distribution laws. They also risk their packages being confiscated if whoever they’re shipping with (UPS, FedEx, etc.) discovers that the package contains alcohol.
So how can we get around this problem? Is there a way we can get our hands on sought after beers from both local breweries as well as finding a legal way to get beers from breweries that don’t currently distribute to the Northwest? This is the question Tavour‘s Chairman, Philip Vaughn, asked himself a few years ago. Along with his partners and co-founders Rafik Robeal (no longer with Tavour) and CEO, Sethu Kalavakur, they believe they’ve found the solution.