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Beer Town: Hop City will be first to sell growlers in Atlanta

In early 2010, The New York Times ran a feature about growlers, an old-fashioned beer vessel that was suddenly “the beer accessory of the moment” among shoppers in Brooklyn neighborhoods like Park Slope.

Until recently, growlers — 64-ounce glass jugs filled and refilled with draft beer — couldn’t be found anywhere in Georgia. In fact, most beer geeks and beverage store owners figured growlers weren’t legal here.

Credit: Hop City

Credit: Hop City

But at 5 p.m. on April 14, Hop City owner Kraig Torres will be the first to sell growlers in Atlanta when he opens the new “growler station” at his Westside beer and wine shop.

“We are finally bringing metro Atlanta in line with the beer-drinking population outside the state of Georgia,” Torres said. “We’ll have 16 rotating taps, primarily with beers that aren’t available in bottles.”

Four months ago, partners Paul Saunders, Denny Young and Sean Galvin opened the first Georgia growler shop, the Beer Growler in Athens. But first they had to go to the Department of Revenue for help.

“We were the ones responsible for changing the law at the state level,” Saunders said. “We basically wrote the legislation the department approved for us to be able to fill glass bottles.”

A few weeks ago, Sachin Patel, owner of Athens 5 Points Bottle Shop, opened another Athens store, 5 Points Growlers, pouring more than 40 craft beers in growlers.

“Business is good,” Patel said. “We’re averaging around 30 or 40 growlers a day. But it’s taking a little education for people to understand that it’s 64 ounces of draft beer to go and it’s great to take home for sharing and get-togethers.”

Torres, Saunders and Patel said the appeal of growlers is simple.

“Draft beer tastes really good,” Torres said. “If you get a growler of beer poured from a fresh keg, you’re probably getting the most authentic bar experience you can have in your living room.”

Hop City’s 64-ounce growlers will be priced between $6.99 and $24.99. An empty growler is $4.99, but can be returned and refilled in perpetuity, making it an eco-friendly option.

“All you do is bring back your jug,” Torres said. “We’ll sanitize it and refill it for you. As a beer drinker, it’s the best thing you can do for the environment.”

In addition to rare and draft-only beers, Torres said he’ll regularly feature beers from Georgia brewers, including Jailhouse, Red Brick, Sweetwater, Terrapin and Wild Heaven.

A partial list of what will be pouring at Hop City on April 14: Jailhouse Breakout Stout; Port Mongo Double IPA; Red Brick Dog Days and 16th Anniversary; Terrapin Moo-Hoo and Rye Squared; Victory Braumeister Pils and Donnybrook Stout; Wild Heaven Invocation and Ode To Mercy.

Judging from what’s happened in other states, it seems likely that growlers will be popping up in more places around Georgia. Atlanta Whole Foods stores and Ale Yeah in Decatur are good bets.

“I think we can see where this is going,” Patel said. “I mean, there’s a Walmart in Charlotte selling growlers now.”

EVENT: 5 p.m. April 14, Hop City “growler station” grand opening. Hop City Craft Beer and Wine, 1000 Marietta Street, Atlanta, 404-350-9998, hopcitybeer.com

— By Bob Townsend, AJC Drink blog

15 comments Add your comment

Hindu Elvis Pimp

April 13th, 2011
3:46 pm

Slowly…..Atlanta, and the state of Georgiaz catches up to the 21st century.

Rolka Nation

April 13th, 2011
3:52 pm

Can’t wait to get a growler of Ode to Mercy…amazing beer. If anyone catches word of what else makes up the 16 taps, spread the word!

FairwayOaks

April 13th, 2011
4:58 pm

Steps in the right direction for sure. Curious if Hop City will fill empty growlers not purchased from them?

Nathan

April 13th, 2011
5:03 pm

I think these new growler stores should shy away from using phrases like “primarily with beers that aren’t available in bottles”. It’s good to say that you’re going to try and serve those when you can, but “primarily”? With the list Kraig provided you, I think he used that term loosely.

All that to say, I’m pumped about this and will be visiting Hop City even more frequently than I already do…

btownsend

April 13th, 2011
5:40 pm

I listed 10 of 16. I believe others on tap first include Bell’s Oberon, Highland Tasgall, New Belgium Ooh La La Ale and Ten Metric Ale, and maybe a ’special price’ on Sweetwater IPA. Being able to get Jailhouse and Wild Heaven is a great thing. Not sure I’m completely sold on growlers in general, though, except for the rare and not generally available stuff. But then again, I prefer my beer in a pub most of the time.

Jason

April 13th, 2011
10:36 pm

In my college days I was known to play a game or two of Edward Fortyhands but Edward Growlerhands is going to be brutal!

KB

April 13th, 2011
11:02 pm

This is fantastic! Kudos to Kraig for fighting this battle and winning it. Growlers are absolutely the way to go: you save on bottle waste and have fresh, draft beer at home. I’m glad GA is finally getting its act together.

Hopefully I can bring non-Hop City growlers for a fill. Right now the only thing they are fill with is dust. Sad.

harold

April 14th, 2011
6:54 pm

Oh my gods we finally caught up with Idaho on something.

Foghorn Leghorn

April 15th, 2011
9:13 am

The jerk won’t fill growlers purchased elsewhere. I suppose he’d rather get that $5 and have his lame logo on the bottle than have regular customers. Weak.

justmy2cents

April 15th, 2011
9:40 am

You can get growler’s at Henry’s Louisiana Grill in Acworth and Mellow Mushroom Pizza in Kennesaw….they’ve already been around for quite some time!

justmy2cents

April 15th, 2011
9:42 am

oops minus the apostrophe

Spanky

April 15th, 2011
10:25 am

@KB: poor reading comprehension: Mr. Torres didn’t do squat.

kp

April 15th, 2011
3:08 pm

Opening a 64oz bottle of beer is a big commitment, more so than opening 22oz. I’d rather commit to 12oz or 16oz at a time.

Dana Blankenhorn

April 15th, 2011
3:18 pm

Any fan of real old movies or 19th century NYC living will know that before Prohibition many bars sold beer in buckets. The growler is its direct descendant. It was the standard “family size” beer before the six-pack existed.

Drunkard

April 18th, 2011
12:23 am

Hey Foghorn, just go to the other place that sells growlers in town….waitaminute….