As many of you know, growlers are now all the rage here in Delaware. More than a dozen liquor stores (and restaurants with off-premise licenses) have begun to fill growlers, and I suspect that it won’t be long before that number doubles. I’m also beginning to see some diversity in the approach stores are taking towards their growler business – especially in equipment. Some are happy to have just four beers pouring out of a simple kegerator type tap system. Some are putting in more stylized refrigeration “bars” which allow them to pour from 8-16 different taps. And then there’s this animal:
That my friends is a three tier PEGAS growler filling system which Kreston Liquors has had installed in both their stores (and nicknamed it “The Deathstar”). The system has three filling platforms, each capable of drawing from four individual beer lines (for a total of 12 beers total). The system first purges the air from your growler with CO2, and then slowly fills your growler from the bottom, thus minimizing waste. It’s a thing of beauty. Seriously.
Although they’ve been filling for a couple of days, yesterday the Wilmington store decided to have a grand opening if you will. In order to officially kick off growler sales, all 12 taps were dedicated to Dogfish Head beers (Firefly Ale, Birra Etrusca, Sixty-One Minute, Theobroma, Sah’Tea, Immort Ale, Chateau Jiahu, Midas Touch, Palo Santo, Burton Baton, 60 Minute, and 90 Minute to be precise) and called in to help out and greet the thirsty shoppers was none other than Sam Calagione, owner of Dogfish Head brewery.
Quiet a few people showed up and stood in line for a good while to talk to Sam, get an autographed growler or get a picture taken and I can say that they weren’t disappointed. Sam was engaging and funny, and didn’t seem to have any trouble finding something to talk to everyone about. When I told him that the last time he and I shook hands was at the Chicago Real Ale festival in 1994, he smile and comment how much he loved the festival, and was sorry that they don’t have it anymore. We talked Delaware craft beer quickly (I asked him to sign my growler “The Dogs of Beer”, which led to blog talk) and got an inside scoop on his thoughts on Alemonger’s prediction that he’ll open a winery by 2015. I’m not going to reveal what he told me, I’ll just say that for now, give me $20 on “NO”.
Soon it was time to get some beer in my growler (I wanted, no NEEDED Firefly) and I got to talk to Sean and Jeff from Kreston a bit about the new system. Jeff says they hope to have more of these “growler take overs” in the future. And Sean informed me that if you have an iPhone or iPad, you can down load Beer Wizard ($0.99) and use that app at any time to find out what’s on draft at either store.
On the way out I bumped into Rob Pfeiffer, head brewer for Twin Lakes Brewery who was only there to pick up a bottle of wine and was wondering why he had such a hard time finding a parking spot on what is normally a not very busy Wednesday. We got a chance to talk about the upcoming Delaware Brewer’s Guild “Brews by the Bay” (it looks like the collaborative brew will be brewed at Stewarts), and the hurtles of putting out a second shelf product when you package in cans verse bottles (you can use the same bottles, just print different labels, but if you can if have to order a ton of different cans).
All in all it was a great way to kill a couple of hours. I got to talk to a few people who make the Delaware craft beer scene tick, and I’ve got a growler of Firefly waiting for me at home.