While the Inland Northwest has embraced its local craft beer industry, we've been a little slower to fall in love with the growler. You know the growler: the big jug that can fit 64 ounces of beer within its cold glass body. Usually there's the name of a brewery on its side, but it doesn't matter where you take it — any beer maker will gladly fill it.
One notion behind the growler is that even the most well-stocked bottle shop isn't going to have some beers, simply because some beers only come on draft. This gave way to the emergence of growler shops, which have begun to pop up in the region, with two independently owned Growler Guys stores in Spokane. One is at the on the Newport Highway by the Division Street Y, the other off of Grand Avenue on the South Hill.
Another argument in favor of the growler is simply that draft beer is better.
"Sadly, anything you get in a can or a bottle, unless you know how to read the code, you're not sure how long it's been sitting there or if it's been in the sun. Draft beer is almost always refrigerated the entire time," says Sean Kirkpatrick, the store manager of Growler Guys on the South Hill and a beer and wine industry veteran.
The two Growler Guys stores in Spokane are franchises of the original shop, which opened in a gas station shop in Bend, the Oregon mountain town where craft beer culture comes close to religion. The South Hill location offers 48 different rotating brews (the website updates in real time as kegs are changed out), most of which you'd be hard-pressed to find elsewhere.
When you step up to order, there's no rush. The bartender asks what you typically drink and begins pouring samples to fit your taste. Chances are, they're going to suggest something you've never heard of, but that's all part of the fun.
"There's such a huge array of different breweries and emerging styles that there's something out there for everyone," says Kirkpatrick, who says the shop is happy to do some beer education for craft beer newbies. ♦
Growler Guys, South Hill • 1314 S. Grand • Open Mon-Sat, 10 am-10 pm; Sun, 10 am-8 pm • thegrowlerguys.com • 315-4367
Growler Guys, Newport Highway • 9329 N. Newport Hwy. • Open Mon-Thu, 11 am-10 pm; Fri, 11 am-11 pm; Sat, 9 am-11 pm; Sun 9 am - 8 pm • 808-2691