Jarvis Ossa and Matt Golden have had a big idea for a few years now, but it’s needed a home.
A very specific home, in fact.
So when the pair — general manager and owner, respectively, of LoDa Bier Garten — learned that local bicycle shop Spoke & Trail wouldn’t be renewing its lease on the former Nixon Drug Store building on Old Shell Road, they decided right away that the time was right to introduce their big idea to Midtown, and the Old Shell Growler Station was born.
“They had just put up the sign that the property was available,” Golden said, adding with a laugh that he called the property owner “at least 10 times that night” to secure their perfect location.
Along with a third partner — Golden’s father, Robert — they recently signed a lease and construction has begun on what will undoubtedly become the destination for craft beer lovers in Midtown Mobile.
The store, which is slated to open in May, will offer beer and wine that you can drink on-site or take home for later. While six taps will be dedicated to draft wine — the most of any location in the area — the focus is decidedly on the beer, with “around 40 taps” to start and a wide variety of bottled and canned beer, according to Ossa.
“I’ve talked to a lot of breweries and we’re going to be doing a lot of super, super signature one-offs from the breweries themselves,” he said. Many of those beers are only offered on draft, meaning a growler or crowler is a consumer’s only opportunity to take it home or to a party.
In addition to to-go sales, there will be a bar for samples and flights, as well as assorted cheeses, tapas and charcuterie. (Think Red or White, but with no kitchen.)
“The idea is, you get off work, come in and have a pint … grab a bite to eat and fill you up a growler to take home,” Golden said.
It’s a model that has grown in popularity nationwide, but like many things in the beer industry in Alabama, it’s an idea that is just now gaining favor.
In addition to the beer and wine, the Old Shell Growler Station will have a section for homebrewing equipment and ingredients, Ossa said. “Right now you have to drive all the way out on Moffett Road, and I think there’s a real demand” for homebrew supplies in Midtown.
The concept, Golden said, is “something Mobile needs and is ready for.”
“We’re pushing people to drink good beer,” Ossa added. “Just go out and drink good beer. The buzz is better and the hangover is easier.”
Singin’ River comes to town
Lower Alabama is set to welcome Singin’ River Brewing Company to taps and shelves Friday, March 4, with a launch party at Cottage Hill Package Store in Mobile. The Florence, Alabama, brewery was founded in 2014 by husband and wife team Rob and Michelle Jones, who will be in town to celebrate the launch.
The event starts at 6:30 p.m. and will feature two beers — Singin’ River IPA and Handy’s Gold.
Dan Murphy is a Certified Cicerone® and the founding brewer at Fairhope Brewing Co. Follow him on Instagram @Grand_Krewe and on Twitter @Beer_Man_Dan.
What’s a growler?
The Old Shell Growler Station will offer 64- and 32-ounce glass growlers as well as 32-ounce aluminum “Crowlers,” but if the questions on a recent Facebook post about the store are any indication, the concept is still new to a lot of folks in Lower Alabama.
Essentially, a growler is a glass jug that is filled with beer straight off the tap. At the Growler Station, Ossa said, they’ll have a system to purge each container with carbon dioxide, extending the life of each growler they fill for up to three months. After it’s opened, however, you’ve got about 24 hours to finish it off before oxygen really starts to take its toll, imparting a stale, wet-cardboard-like flavor to the beer.
A crowler is simply a 32-ounce beer can that is filled off the tap and sealed on-site with special equipment. It was invented by Oskar Blues Brewery in Colorado, the same folks that first introduced canned craft beer to a wide audience in 2002.
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