Serving up pints to thirsty patrons wasn’t part of owner Loren Klabunde’s original plan for The Growl Store, but he has since added the offering with the hope of boosting business.
“Ideally we would have made it work under the original business model, but it’s been fine to serve pints, too,” Klabunde told CHS.
In fact, he did have some customers asking about pints before he added them to his lineup, which previously was growler fills and tasting trays of three to five beers.
Even though he’s made changes toward being more of a bar, Klabunde doesn’t want to cater to a rowdy crowd. Doors still close at 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. And while The Growl Store has a counter, it doesn’t have bar stools, but Klabunde is considering adding some seating.
Along with pints, The Growl Store now has happy hour from 4 to 6 PM with $2 off pints and weekly specials with a different tap priced at $10 for a growler fill and $3.50 for a pint until the keg is gone.
“While we serve pints we still think of ourselves as really a tasting room and growler fill station,” he said.
The Growl Store opened in late 2015 and has 44 taps of beer and cider from breweries within a 100 miles radius of Seattle.
While Klabunde is focused on local beers, he did kind of step outside that when he offered Charlie, an ale dedicated to “The Complete Joy of Homebrewing” author Charlie Papazian by Oregon’s Rogue Ales, which is only available every few years. With Rogue’s Issaquah brewpub, it fell into a sort of a gray area, Klabunde said.
The ciders, he admits, are sometimes a little further out than 100 miles because there aren’t as many cideries around, but they’re all from Washington state.
Klabunde also keeps a ginger beer and a gluten free beer on tap.
Sixty different breweries have had their beer flowing through the taps since Klabunde opened last December at the corner of Madison Street and 13th Avenue. TV screens in the shop and an up-to-date online list lets customers know what’s on tap and how much is left in the keg.
His goal is to have beer from a new brewery on tap each week, but it doesn’t always happen.
New-to-craft-beer customers often wonder through his doors, so he asked them to describe the beers they’ve had and what they did and didn’t like. Then he sets up a tasting tray of beers he thinks they might like along with one or two of his favorites.
He also teaches people about caring for their growlers.
Once opened a growler of beer is good for 48 hours, sealed it lasts for about two weeks in the fridge.
“Keg-fresh beer just beats canned beer all day long,” Klabunde said.
Klabunde hopes the shop will help move people away from bottled and canned beer to make their footprints a little greener. Offering local brews, instead of beer from further away also helps to keep the carbon footprint lower.
Since opening in December of last year, 17,553 cans and bottles have been saved by serving beer from the tap to the glass or growler.
“I just felt that I could help other people make a small change to really try to help. It’s about changing small behaviors, many small behaviors over time,” he said.
His idea for the shop was born from a love of beer and the environment. Growler fill stations have seen success in Portland, he said and figured he could kick things off in Seattle.
Business has been pretty steady with a healthy dose of repeat customers, Klabunde said, but as with any new business, he knows the first two years are tough.
In three to five years, if The Growl Store model does prove to be successful, Klabunde would like to open additional locations.
“We want to make sure we’re able to do this first one and do it right,” he said.
The Growl Store is located at 1222 E Madison. Learn more at thegrowlstore.com.
Redhook Brewpub updates
It’s not the best of times for the company behind the plan for a major addition to the Capitol Hill beer scene. CHS broke the news on a new Redhook Brewpub and 10-barrel brewery destined for E Pike about a year ago. Beer giant Craft Brew Alliance which owns the Redhook brand announced it was cutting half of the workers at its Woodinville brewery due to slow business in its Pabst contract. The tough financial period for the $347 million publicly traded company doesn’t appear to have put its plans for the Capitol Hill brewpub in jeopardy. The company has adjusted its schedule for the project, however, from a debut this fall to a planned grand opening in February 2017.