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Growler stores try to stand out

Popularity brews crowded field

Dave Sheets, owner of Blind Murphy’s in Alpharetta, holds a 64-ounce growler. ALDO NAHED. (click for larger version)

ALDO NAHED. (click for larger version)

ALDO NAHED. (click for larger version)

(click for larger version)
January 15, 2013
NORTH FULTON/FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — If you're tired of the same old domestic and foreign beers available at the grocery or liquor store, you're in luck.

Beer growlers are popping up all over town, and doing well.

"I don't really feel like I have any competition," Michael Yi of Cumming Beverage Mart said. "There are other growlers in the area, but our store has a customer base because of the Cumming Beverage Mart."

Yi said his growler offers about 40 different taps. When he first opened his growler, attached to Cumming Beverage Mart, business was booming, but the novelty leveled off.

Yi believes the key to being successful is the knowledge of his employees.

"It's about the beer," he said. "Our staff knows about each beer and the differences between them, and that helps us keep customers."

Andre Airich, owner of Crafty Draught, says he's not worried about the competition, either.

"Business is good," Airich said, "and our clientele come to us because we're different, and we know beer."

Airich says his store offers about 20 different beers at a time and they change when the keg runs out.

"Our store is fun," he said. "We have a ping pong table, so our customers can play and take their time picking out their growler."

Forsyth County laws do not allow samplings, and Airich wishes that weren't the case.

"People would be more apt to buy more from any of the growlers if they could sample the choices," he said.

Airich and his business partner Cody Anderson were pioneers in changing the alcohol ordinance in Forsyth County to allow for growlers, but they don't think the alcohol laws will change here anytime soon to allow for samples.

"Forsyth County is more open to beverage laws now, but I don't see this changing any time soon," he said.

Dave Sheets, who owns Blind Murphy, the first growler store in Alpharetta, said he offers customers about 30 different taps.

"We're different than the corporate-owned or franchised growlers, because we are locally owned, and connect with the community," Sheets said.

Blind Murphy's walls are decorated with local art, and they sell locally made sauces and salsas.

"I was a part of the law that allows Fulton County growlers to provide samples," he said. "Our customers can enjoy up to three 1-ounce samples before they make a selection, in a comfortable environment."

Sheets said beer growlers are most successful if they're educated and passionate about beer.

He says their passion keeps customers coming back.

"Most of the independent growlers are home brewers," Sheets said, "and are passionate about beer."

list visuals View images.
Where to get growlers

Cumming Beverage Mart, 1770 Buford Highway, Cumming, Ga. 30041

Crafty Draught, 415 Peachtree Parkway, Cumming, Ga. 30041

City Growler, 214-C Atlanta Highway, Cumming, Ga. 30040

Blind Murphy, 53 South Main Street, Alpharetta, Ga. 30004

Tap It Growlers, 5354 McGinnis Ferry Road, Suite 204, Alpharetta, Ga. 30005

Ale Yeah, 408 South Atlanta Street, Suite 157, Roswell, Ga. 30075

The Beer Growler, 3000 Old Alabama Road, Johns Creek, Ga. 30022 and 865 North Main Street, Alpharetta, Ga. 30004

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Tags: Business News, Community & Outreach

  1. report print email
    Growlers are bottles, not stores
    January 15, 2013 | 01:51 PM

    Good story. I agree, there seems to be enough business right now to support what might appear to be a saturated market. But maybe that will change in the future. I'd also encourage folks to shop around. Some of the more popular beers at growler stores can vary in price by 20% or more.

    One small correction... "growlers" are bottles, not the stores that sell them.

    S Lee Guy
    Alpharetta, GA
  2. report print email
    Growlers also available at Shell in Roswell
    January 15, 2013 | 05:57 PM

    The Shell station on the corner of Canton St. and Magnolia also sells growlers. They have a nice selection and it's fairly cheap too!

  3. report print email
    Crafty Draught!
    January 16, 2013 | 10:49 AM

    Crafty Draught is the best! They know beer and have a rewards program too...

    Elliot Garcia
    Alpharetta, GA
  4. report print email
    Good...but keep your eyes open
    January 21, 2013 | 05:49 PM

    I just got two growlers for the first time a couple weeks ago. They had interesting choices. But, it was pretty expensive. I paid $30 for two 64oz bottles which is basically two six packs. (That didn't not include the cost of the bottles.) Nice to have beer on tap. But if you can get two good six packs of micros or imports for only $20, seems a bit pricey. I'm all for having good beer. Don't mind paying more if I'm out at a pub. But, seems a little expensive for drinking at home or showing up to the party. Don't mean to poo-poo the whole idea. I think it's great. But, prices may have to come down a bit or it may end up being a fad. (Or maybe I need to try another place.)

    Beer Lover
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