It seems that the quiet beer town of Johannesburg is starting to throw a few punches in the craft beer arena. Today sees the opening of a brand new, first of its kind (for Joburg at least) growler filling station. [Update: I just found out that EZ Growler opened up in Illovo a few weeks ago. Now there's two!]
Yip, there is finally a growler filling station a mere 15 minutes from the CraftNation offices. If you don't know what those words mean, let me give you the rundown. A growler is a large beer storage container that can be refilled directly from a keg. This allows you to enjoy draught-fresh craft beer at home, without needing to install any taps yourself. It's kinda like buying your beer in bulk, directly from the tap. Then, when your growler is empty, you simply return it and have it filled with another beer that is available at the station.
The growler station that was installed at the Tops! Spar in Radiokop is owned by the aptly named Growler Brewing Co. It is the second such station that the company has installed, the first one can be found at Riverside Superspar in Nelspruit.
The growler station can accommodate four beers, two of which will be Growler Brewing Co. craft. At launch, the Lager and Red Ale will be "on tap". This one will also feature a Darling Brew Bone Crusher keg which will be rotated with other Darling Brew beers from time to time. Filling a growler bottle is impressively simple and quick. A 2.5l growler bottle fills up in around a minute, so there is not much chance of a long wait when you want your favourite craft for the weekend.
The cost for a first-time customer is R180. This includes the growler and 2.5l of beer. When you return for a refill, it'll only cost you R145, so in effect, you are paying a mere R35 deposit for the bottle. That works out to R36 per 500ml for your first fill and then R29 per 500ml thereafter. This is not a bad price considering most craft beer costs around the same price for a 440ml bottle. Once sealed with a special cap, the growler will stay fresh for up to 30 days. Once you open it, you'll have four days before the beer will go bad - perfect for a weekend or a braai session with friends.
As long as they regularly switch up the options to keep fussy beer drinkers coming back, this could become a weekend ritual for us at CraftNation. © 2016 CraftNation