Growling for beer

BY BILL BROWN

“What’s a ‘growler,?'” you may ask?

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THIS is a growler – a 64 oz refillable beer bottle and it is pictured here at a growler-filling station, a hot new concept in beer-sales.

Most craft-breweries and brew-pubs sell and fill growlers from the tap. Now craft-brew fans have the option of filling up at Mayfair Liquor’s growler station, the first of its kind in the Voice readership area. The station has 8 taps featuring local beer and ales. Each tap is connected to a keg, just  It looks like a row of taps behind a bar, but in this case it is set into the Mayfair’s cooler wall.

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Owner Bobby Singh got the idea to put in a filling-station last year. He and his wife Kate researched and found a number of new growler-station vendors and systems. This is a new and growing market nationwide.

Kate Singh says that people who want local draft beers and ales can enjoy it at home, or bring it to a party for much less than they would pay for it by the glass in a bar. They can also get beer from small local breweries without having to drive to the brewery, some of which have limited hours, such as DC Brau which is only open on Saturday afternoons.

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Kate Singh fills a growler at Mayfair Liquor.

Since the growler station was installed in August, they have rotated the beer selection. Some change on a weekly basis, some every 3 to 4 weeks.

The store, located at 7312 Georgia Ave. NW, sells growler bottles for $6.99. It is a one-time cost, the bottles can be refilled. Customers can bring their own growlers, too. Once sealed, the beer retains carbonation for at least a couple of days.

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Mayfair Liquors on Georgia Avenue, NW

Mayfair’s resident beer expert Nathan Bush or one of the owners fill customer’s growlers for them. They have small cups on hand so undecided customers can taste before they fill.

Some beers they sell are “seasonals,” made in limited amounts, only available for a few weeks. Some of the brews are only available on draft not in bottles. Some can otherwise only be poured into a growler at the brewery – such as the Maniacal Double India Pale Ale from Alexandria, VA’s Port City Brewing Company.

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They provide a range of different styles, from mild to exotic. This week there is a lager from Starr Hill (Virginia), a red ale from Devils Backbone (Virginia), a limited-release black IPA by DC’s Atlas Brew Works (District of Columbia), a “double-IPA” from Port City (Virginia), a winter-brew porter from Old Dominion (Virginia), a spiced Belgian-style ale from DC Brau (District of Columbia), a Belgian-style tripel ale from Victory (Pennsylvania), and a pomegranate-flavored saison from Lost Rhino (Virginia).

These will change over the next few weeks. Some go quickly, such as the popular Sweet Baby Jesus chocolate peanut-butter porter by Baltimore brewer DuClaw. Once the keg was empty, that was the end of it.

Refills cost between $11.99 to $16.99, depending on the brew. The beers with a higher ABV (alcohol by volume) cost more. ABVs range from around 5% to 10%.

It is best to bring clean growlers, said Singh. They provide caps.

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Mayfair’s beer selection includes craft-beer in large single bottles, and winter beers.

Mayfair Liquor, owned by the Singhs since 2004, is otherwise a typical liquor store, selling bottled beer, wine, and hard liquor. Kate Singh proudly pointed out the selection of craft-brews in the cooler and shelves. Many are local, and include seasonal winter brews such as Port City’s Tidings Ale. They have a few shelves dedicated to single large, 22 oz or bigger “bomber”  bottles. These are specialty beers, often with a high ABV: Belgian-style ales, seasonals, farmhouse ales (saisons), etc.

About the Author

Bill Brown
Bill Brown moved to Takoma Park in 1982. He has been involved in journalism in one way or another since he co-published an underground high-school newspaper in the late 1960s.