Hey, Ballantyne — More craft beer is coming your way at the end of the month.
Growler USA, located in the Toringdon Circle shopping center off Johnston Road, will have its grand opening Jan. 30.
It’s in the same shopping center as a Midwood Smokehouse, a Hickory Tavern and a Viva Chicken. (Related: Hopping eateries from uptown area expand to the ‘burbs.)
I got a tour of the 2,400 square-foot spot with Managing Partner Matt Coben. What to expect:
– 104 taps. 90 will always be dedicated to beer (with up to eight nitro taps), 10 will be for kombucha, non-alcoholic root beer, cold press coffee, white wine and cider, and four will be reserved for red wine. Yes, as the name implies, you can get growlers to go.
– Food. Mostly typical pub fare, but Coben cares about healthy eating so it won’t all be fried stuff. Don’t be surprised if you see kale.
– Not a sports bar. Coben is adamant about this. There are a total of 10 TVs, but the six 55-inchers above the bar are for the beer menu. There are three 60-inch TVs and one 50-inch TV around the bar, but don’t expect to come here on a Sunday and watch every football game.
– Cool tech-y details. The outlets near some tables and under the bar have USB outlets, so you can charge your phone. And, in the back, there’s a TV with an HDMI/computer hook up so you can use the TV for a meeting or presentation.
– Another cool tech thing: The taps are all monitored electronically, so when a beer runs out the bar’s computer knows and it automatically updates the digital menu and the bar’s Twitter account. Same thing when it taps a new keg, so you can follow the Twitter account and know exactly what’s on the menu.
— Growler USA (@Growler_USA) January 7, 2016
– Design touches. The bar and standing table are set at a slight angle, so you can see all of the taps when you walk by the location. The bar top is made of reclaimed plywood.
Growler USA is a franchise (this is the first location on the East Coast) but Coben, who has a background in marketing and finance, has a lot of control over what the bar serves — and he cares about beer.
Just ask him about the beer cooler. Not only does he have the digital readers, but he knows exactly how cold the beer is, has a hoist system to move the kegs and gushes about how the water that goes into the glass sprayer circles the cooler three times.
“It’s all about serving the beer properly,” Coben says.
He puts just as much care into the beer selection. He plans to break his selection into three types:
– Local. Like hyperlocal. Ten to 15 taps will be dedicated to beers from inside the 485 loop.
– Regional. This doesn’t just mean regional to the Southeast. He wants to get beers that are regional to other parts of the country but not as common here. Think Prairie Artisan Ales in Oklahoma.
– National. This was harder than Coben expected. He wants to get a mix of beers that people know and small batch, rare beers that “beer geeks” will get excited about.
Photos: Corey Inscoe