Walk by the window of the new Growler USA and the first thing that catches your eye are the taps – all 100 of them.
The cooler to which those taps are attached was specifically angled so that when you walk by, you don’t just see the ones on the end – you see all 100 of them stretching the length of the bar.
“There’s no question when you walk in what we’re all about,” said Matt Coben, the owner of Growler USA, at 12206 Copper Way, Suite 124 in Ballantyne’s Toringdon Circle. “I wanted you to see that there were 100 glistening taps. It gives it a little more interest.”
That aesthetic touch and many others came courtesy of Coben’s brother, an architect who specializes in designing restaurants. Though Growler USA is a chain (with the original location in Eugene, Ore.,) the Charlotte location is the first not owned by the company. As such, Coben had a little more freedom in the buildout. Growler USA’s corporate office refers to him as the “tip of the spear” because he’s leading some of these changes.
“We had a lot more input with the design and architecture,” he said.
The space that was formerly Crü Wine Shop now contains a standing bar and banquettes. Black granite is used beneath the bar, white granite behind it. There are six TVs over the bar, but those will almost always be used to display information on the beers being poured. A sports bar this is not.
“Don’t expect to come in here and be overwhelmed by visual media,” says Coben, who describes the sophisticated but casual bar as “Cheers on steroids.”
More impressive than the 100 taps might be what’s on the other side of them. Inside the cooler, each tap is equipped with quick-connect fittings and secondary regulators, which help ensure new kegs are easily hooked up and dialed in at the appropriate level of carbonation. Four of the taps will use nitrogen instead of carbon dioxide to dispense creamier pours.
It’s a setup best explained by Ron Curnutt, who worked with beer equipment supplier Micromatic for almost two years to design the plans for the cooler.
“We wanted to create an environment that allowed us to dispense the beer exactly as the breweries intended it,” said Curnutt, who as executive vice president of operations has overseen construction on many other Growler USA locations. “People will be able to tell it’s done the right way.”
The cooler even features a pulley attached to an aluminum I-beam on the ceiling, allowing brewery reps, distributors or bartenders to move kegs with ease. And what kegs will you find filling those 100 taps?
The beer menu is broken down by styles, with local, regional and national offerings. Coben feels that many bars focus exclusively on the local and national beers, and that there’s a market for the regional beers that sometimes get overlooked.
To keep the beer selection fresh, he plans to order many of his beers as sixtel kegs, which hold around 5 gallons of beer. But beer isn’t the only thing on tap. Growler USA will also feature hard cider, kombucha, wine, cold-brew coffee and non-alcoholic root beer.
Order at the bar, and your beverage will find its way into one of nine different types of beer glasses. If you want it to go (the name is Growler USA, after all) you can take home a 32- or 64-ounce growler of most beers.
Growler USA also features a small menu with elevated takes on pub classics like wings, sliders and nachos. There are salads, sandwiches and entrées as well.
Growler USA is open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday; and noon-8 p.m. on Sunday. The bar will hold a grand opening celebration Saturday with 10 percent of the proceeds from 5-9 p.m. supporting Apparo, a local nonprofit that helps other nonprofits through information technology services.
Queen City Brewers Festival
WHEN: Saturday, Feb. 6, 6-9 p.m. (1-4 p.m. session is sold out)
WHERE: The Fillmore at the N.C. Music Factory, 820 Hamilton St.
WHAT: As the Charlotte beer scene grows, so does the Queen City Brewers Festival. Every year, the festival welcomes Charlotte-area breweries, restaurants, bottle shops and other exhibitors for a celebration of the Queen City’s beer scene. The annual festival is always held on the Saturday before the Super Bowl, and each brewery is encouraged to bring a limited or special “super beer.” The 1-4 p.m. session for next week’s festival is now sold out, but at the time of this writing tickets remain for the 6-9 p.m. session. They are $45 and can be purchased at www.qcbrewfest.com.