First Look at Growlers Hawthorne

Yesterday was the Grand Opening of Growlers Hawthorne, the latest in a bazillion growler fill stations to open up in Oregon. Co-owner Jim Hillman is quick to point out, though, that Growlers Hawthorne is the only truly dedicated fill station; it doesn’t sell anything but growlers and has 40 beautiful taps of beer and cider, as well as another 6 for Brew Dr. Kombucha and Soda.



33rd and Hawthorne is a great location for a growler stop. There is tons of foot traffic and plenty of commuters coming from and going downtown. Growlers Hawthorne hopes to capitalize on all of the bicycle traffic with a future bike parking lot and growler carriers for bikes.


Growlers Hawthorne is truly dedicated to nothing but growler fills. There are no tables or chairs in the place, just a wall full of growlers for purchase and another wall of taps, topped by a line of gleaming digital tap boards from Digital Pour. The beer selection is pretty wide, with forty different choices that focus solely on the NW, and the last five taps are for gluten-free offerings–right now that’s one beer, Harvester IPA, and four ciders. The manager, Ruby, selects the beers to stock and told me she chose them from researching Beer Advocate and Rate Beer favorites from Oregon. Prices are pretty affordable, ranging from $9.99 to $16.99 for a 64oz fill, and a growlette is half that price plus fifty cents. One of the innovations Growlers Hawthorne has come up with to differentiate itself is a couple taps that just shoot out C02 to purge the growler container before filling it, which should help to keep oxygen out and the beer fresher. The staff is also all about keeping things clean; the filling hoses used to connect to the tap to go into the growlers are only used once for the day before going into a bucket to be fully cleaned later.


I do wonder if we really need another growler fill station, especially in that inner SE Portland neighborhood. Four or five years ago Hawthorne would have been wide open for a great growler fill station, but now competition is fierce. Early last year the nearby 39th Mini Mart put in a great little growler fill station, and so did Zupan’s Market on SE Belmont. Already nearby were the very established Belmont Station and Hawthorne Hophouse. Then later last year came the terrific Imperial Bottle Shop & Taproom, arguably the best growler fill stop anywhere, just a few blocks over on Division. The final nail may have come just last week when the big boy on the block, the Hawthorne Fred Meyer, added its own growler filling station.

Still, Jim Hillman is pretty confident that the neighborhood will sustain the place. He says it has already done great business since the soft unadvertised opening on Monday, and he plans to introduce more people to growlers. He correctly pointed out that if you go into a Fred Meyer there is no one standing around waiting to pour you a growler; you need to track down “Jimmy” or somebody who probably doesn’t know anything about the beers to fill one up for you.


Growlers Hawthorne is open noon-8pm every day of the week and is featuring a series of brewers in for tastings this week.3343 SE Hawthorne Blvd.Portland, OR 97214(503) 628-8000

Samurai Artist
Samurai Artist

Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding. Contact: SamuraiArtist@NewSchoolBeer.com

Discussion

  • Bill Night
    Bill Night
    Wed Feb 5, 2014 7:19 PM

    If the price is right and the selection is good, I think it will work. It would rarely make sense to fill a growler of something that is sold in six-packs, but probably does make sense versus bombers. Consider the six-pack equivalent prices for growlers:

    * $9.00 for 64 oz. at $8.
    * $11.25 for 64 oz. at $10.
    * $13.50 for 64 oz. at $12.
    * $15.75 for 64 oz. at $14.

    and bombers:

    * $13.09 for 22 oz. at $4.
    * $16.36 for 22 oz. at $5.

    So, any beer you can get in a $9 six-pack, you are foolish to pay more than $8 for a growler of. On the other hand, for beers that are only available in a $5 bomber, a $14 growler is a 4% discount. All of this assumes you don’t leave a tip at the growler place. And of course, a growler of a beer which isn’t bottled at all… priceless.

    • Sean R
      Sean R
      Wed Feb 5, 2014 8:49 PM

      It’s foolish to prefer draft over bottles? What about the quality variable and comparison to price in a pint?

      • Chris
        Chris
        Thu Feb 6, 2014 6:15 PM

        It’s not foolish to prefer one over the other, but it is foolish to assume that just because a beer is on tap that it’s fresher than its bottled counterpart. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve received cases and kegs of a beer and discovered that the kegged version is 2 weeks older than the bottles. As a recent example, on the last shipment of Pliny to Portland the bottles were 7 days old but the kegs were pushing 3 weeks.

        Second, at least with bottles you know they were sterilized, purged with co2 (sometimes twice), filled quickly, and capped on foam to avoid oxygenating the beer. With growlers, there’s no telling how clean the glass is, and there’s no way to prevent oxygenation as the agitated beer flies out of the tap and sloshes around in the jug.

        Last but not least, why would you compare it to the price of a pint rather than the price of a bottle? When I go out for a pint I’m not only paying for the beer, I’m paying rent for a table where I can gather with my friends, and I’m paying for a bartender to serve us and clean up our mess when we leave. If I’m buying a growler to take home (or wherever), I’m not receiving any of the benefits or services that come with enjoying a pint at the bar.

        • Bill Night
          Bill Night
          Thu Feb 6, 2014 7:24 PM

          Exactly, Chris. Very well put! I would prefer to have a draft pint out, but for taking home it’s not likely that a growler will be better than a bottle, for the reasons you stated. For the sake of argument, suppose the growler beer is better… is it so much better that you would pay a 25% surcharge?

        • Unknown
          Unknown
          Thu Feb 6, 2014 12:31 AM

          “Then later last year came the terrific Imperial Bottle Shop & Taproom, arguably the best growler fills anywhere just a few blocks over on Belmont.”

          I believe you meant Division* 🙂

          • Samurai Artist
            Samurai Artist
            Thu Feb 6, 2014 12:32 AM

            you got me there

            • ElGordo
              ElGordo
              Thu Feb 6, 2014 12:52 AM

              Fixed it. And many other things.

            • 100145206867305448145
              100145206867305448145
              Sat Feb 8, 2014 11:54 PM

              And the Imperial doesn’t only fill growlers, but they fill 16 oz bottles, too, which are fantastic if you’re not planning on drinking 64oz of beer. They’re great for the 10-14% beers (I’m looking at you, Suge Knite & 5th Wheel).