Beer fans and Florida breweries were equally bummed earlier this year when Florida’s legislature passed on a proposed bill that would have allowed the sale of 64-ounce growlers at brewpubs across the state. But that hasn’t stopped local retailers from forging ahead within the limits of the law.
Last week, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits in Lake Mary became the first retailer in Central Florida to offer a 32 oz growler filling station. This local gem already boasts the largest collection of craft beer in our area, but now beer aficionados can wander back to ABC’s new Brew Stop where a selection of 12 craft beers await on tap. Typically beer sold in growlers is rarely bottled or canned, so the Brew Stop has the added perk of being a platform to showcase fairly unique and hard-to-find varieties. Once you pay $3.50 for a growler, you can bring it back each time, have it cleaned, and fill it again with your choice of beer.
On a recent visit, it didn’t take long for a customer to wander back with a glass growler to fill. “It makes for great conversation,” he told me. “And it gives me a chance to try really great beer.”
While the Sierra Nevada Black IPA he chose slowly trickled into his growler, he and Adam from ABC chatted about the different beers on tap that day. As I watched the exchange, it was obvious that the Brew Stop is fast becoming much more than a place to buy beer; it’s a hub where lovers of craft beer can commune and swap notes. In about two minutes, the growler was filled and the customer was happily on his way.
The Lake Mary location will be the first to host a growler station, but it won’t be the last. It is expected that five more ABC locations—Wesley Chapel, Jacksonville, Palm Coast, Ft. Lauderdale and Tallahassee—will get growler stations within three months of the proven success of the Lake Mary store. All locations currently have beer consultants.