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.”