Growler Fill Station Watch: We’re at 6 or 7 (maybe?) (8!)

Growlers!Updated: Beau in the comments mentions Cascade West, and I’ve learned that Cross Creek Cafe in Redmond is a fill station too!

Since I last posted about the “boom” in beer growler fill stations (see here and here), there have been a number of new ones opening up or about to open. I can plausibly count 6 or 7 (try 8, maybe 9!), which seems high—but here’s what I figure and I’ll let everyone else decide:

  • The Growler Guys: East Hwy 20 and 27th, in the Shell gas station (the original), 34 taps
  • Gorilla Growlers: North Empire, in the Empire Car Wash, 29 taps
  • Growler Phil’s: Westside, on Galveston opening soon inside of Primal Cuts Meat Market (as reported by The Source), 30-34 taps planned
  • Tumalo Country Store: I don’t know how long they’ve been filling growlers—the Facebook page was just created on Monday, but I saw someone else post about them before that—but they have 21 taps.
  • Mountain Jug: Sunriver, opening sometime soon, a beer bottle shop and growler fill station. Here’s the description: “Opening 2013 featuring private tastings with renowned brewers, assorted six packs, and a bad ass 1980′s sit down arcade game with 60 classics ready for some love.”
  • High Desert Growler Room: Apparently inside of Ray’s Food Place on Century Drive; that picture was posted to Twitter by Cascade Lakes Brewing, “Growler Fill Station almost complete.” Looks like it might be the old liquor store space?
  • The Brew Shop: They actually have a 4-tap growler fill station in the main homebrew supply store part of the building (upstairs from the Platypus Pub). And they’ve had that available for about the same amount of time that The Growler Guys has been pouring beers.
  • Cross Creek Cafe: I hear that they are a growler fill station as well (besides being a good place in Redmond for craft beer and eats), but I don’t know if they have dedicated growler taps, or if they fill growler from their already-existing taps.
  • Cascade West: Beau in the comments mentions that Cascade West fills growlers (possibly for $9), though I hadn’t heard about that before. It makes sense: they already have 32 taps (which except for some of the new growler stations puts them at more than anyone else around, I think), but since they’re already a bar I don’t know that I’d highlight them as a “new” growler fill station. Maybe?

This is of course not even counting any of the actual breweries that will fill growlers with any of the beers they currently have on tap. If you wanted to add those into this list that would give you at least 10 more places to fill a growler in Central Oregon!

(Nor am I considering Redmond—they very well may have a growler station underway there as well, but I haven’t heard anything.) (I since did hear.)

Now don’t get me wrong: I like beer. I love beer. I write a beer blog, I brew my own, I’m helping with Central Oregon Beer Week, and so on… but even I have to look at the number of these fill stations—especially for such a small area—and I can’t help but think “bubble” at this point. Are we able to sustain all of these separate growler stations? Do we have a big enough market? I don’t know. And to be fair, I thought we were likely at our limit for breweries back in 2007-8 or so… but here we are.

I’m curious as to what everyone else thinks. Too many growler fill stations? Not enough? Bubble? Next Big Thing and the sky’s the limit? Do you like the choices having many fill stations bring? Are there many choices, or is the beer variety limited by brewery/availability/OLCC/etc.?

Discuss.

10 Responses to Growler Fill Station Watch: We’re at 6 or 7 (maybe?) (8!)

  1. jon says:

    I stopped at the tumalo store for lunch today and during the 20 mins I was back there they sold 3 fills. Pretty good I talked to the owner and he said it has been going better than expected.

  2. Beau says:

    Cascade West also fills up growlers. I think they’re $9.

  3. Jon says:

    Do they have a fill station, or just fill from the bar taps? I think Broken Top Bottle Shop will fill growlers (with some beers, not all) straight from their regular taps too.

  4. Gene says:

    I’m a big fan of the fill stations, but the explosion is a bit worrisome, if we are all drinking local beer from the growler then that could lead to empty barstools in the pubs and a decline in our current fantasy like standard of brewery heaven living. It seems like the fill stations are undercutting the Brewpubs on growler fill cost$.

  5. Sean says:

    I just don’t get growlers. It’s more expensive to fill a 64 oz growler than buy a 6 pack at Safeway, and you get more beer with 6 bottles! The growler shelf life is 2 days max once you open. I hate flat beer. For someone that drinks 1 or 2 beers a night on weeknights, growlers are a terrible deal.

    • Billy Bibbitt says:

      Hmmm… beer from a tap, or beer from a bottle or can. Let me think…..

      Oh, wait! There really is no comparison (rolls eyes).

  6. Jon says:

    I don’t know about costs: certainly there is less overhead in managing kegs and taps of beer rather than the entire brewing operation, and so far they are only focusing on the beer, not food, so there’s no restaurant/kitchen overhead (potentially). And while the average price seems to be about $9, I have seen specialty beers selling for $16, $20 or even more, so maybe it balances out.

  7. Jon says:

    Sean’s comment highlights why I don’t think growlers will cause a drop in pub attendance, as Gene mentions: not everyone likes them. And it’s true, they have those drawbacks: often more expensive than a six-pack of similar beer for less (64oz versus 72oz in a six-pack), the beer has to be consumed fairly quickly before it goes flat (not even mentioning if the lid isn’t on tight in the first place!), and unless you’re sharing with friends, you’re stuck drinking a half gallon of beer by yourself in a day or 2 so it doesn’t go flat!

    On the other hand, I like that I can fill a growler with beer I can’t get in bottles at all: Boneyard’s beer, for instance, or specialties only on tap at any of the brewpubs. Plus, both Silver Moon and Boneyard offer $6 growler fill deals at special times of the week which is a great deal.

  8. brenda says:

    Ray’s is also about to open a growler fill station in the back where the liquor store use to be…not sure about the date but it is soon. Yeah, I don’t get the growler scene either but my husband swears on it…fresher tasting beer than what you purchase in the store. Plus, some speciality beers are never bottled/canned and can only be filled by growler. If you compare it to purchasing pints, you are in business:)

  9. Josh says:

    I mutter the phrase ‘Bend beer bubble’ whenever I see a new opening. The stations are a great new idea. They have about the economic radius of a coffee shop – meaning a neighborhood reach – so they shouldn’t conflict with each other ‘too’ much. I think they address a segment of the local brew market that has been underdeveloped: locals who want to avoid the restaurant/bar scene and tourist prices, but love good beer (me). As for the bubble, I don’t expect to see it actually burst, but maybe a business failure or two we start to top out.