This is my first time participating in The Session. For those who aren’t familiar here’s how it works: On the first Friday of every month beer bloggers from far and wide post about one specific topic determined by the host. The host then collects links to all the posts and provides a rundown of what everyone wrote on their site. This month the Washington Beer Blog plays host to a session all about growlers.
The benefit of growlers for the home brewer is obvious. Bottling sucks and pouring off a half gallon for any occasion from your kegerator is a breeze. I’m sure my collection of growlers will grow very quickly once I’m finally kegging. Commercial breweries, liquor stores and pubs are also starting to utilize this means of distribution in my neck of the woods. I think growlers present a great opportunity for some creative marketing and distribution.
Joe Canal’s Liquor in West Deptford is one local example of growlers being used effectively. Notice how many of the reviews found online make mention of their growler filling station. It’s no surprise because the store has put forth the effort it takes to make the investment worthwhile. First, they do a great job of updating their tap list on beermenus.com. Next, they run ads in the freely distributed Philly Beer Scene (pictured above). The coupon for a free growler is a perfect incentive to get new customers in the door. Finally, and most importantly, they offer quality beers! Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Weizen, Chouffe Houblon Dobbelen IPA Tripel, and Flying Dog Gonzo Porter are just a few currently on draft. “Tap Takeovers” allow Canal’s to host a brewery and showcase some of their beers. This may be commonplace in other parts of the country, but in the Philadelphia area the concept is just starting to gain momentum and I like it.
I think the biggest beneficiaries of growlers are smaller breweries just starting operation. They’re a great POS purchase for visitors of your brewery and make nice keepsakes. Any brewery trying to establish themselves can get their name out there quick and encourage repeat purchases. In my eyes: The more creative, the bigger payoff. Outside the walls of the brewery there’s potential too. Ultimately, I believe if retail liquor stores embrace growler fill stations like Canal’s has done it would present another channel of distribution for these up and coming breweries. This may not be the deciding factor in success and failure for the brewery, but I’m sure every sale helps. Most beer lover’s would agree that anything to help these breweries get to market and stay will benefit all craft beer.