I'm not the kind of guy who drinks a whole lot of beer. Don't get me wrong; I like beer, but I just don't drink bunches of it....generally.
At those times when I do crank up the volume, such as sitting poolside or on the beach in South Florida, or after doing a little yard work in August, I tend to drink something lighter. My favorite volume beer is Sol, but it's sometimes hard to find. My fallback volume beers are Miller Lite or Corona.
|Moose Drool Ale: It's an Eatons' Ranch tradition.|
I might toss down four or five bottles of Big Sky's Moose Drool when sitting on the porch of Big Graham after a day of horseback riding at Eatons' Ranch in Wyoming. It's a darker ale that has become part of our Eatons' tradition. It's also one of the few beers I've found that's actually better out of the bottle than out of a keg.
Typically, though, I'm more of a beer-an-hour type guy. On those occasions, I want a beer with some heft. I like darker beers: reds, browns, porters and stouts.
|The Three Amigos at Charleston's Southend Brew Pub.|
When out of town, I like to find a locally brewed beer – preferably at the brew pub where made – and linger over it. If I can't locate a microbrewery, I then try to find a joint with some decent local beers on tap. I have been to scores of microbreweries from Alaska and Hawaii to Maine.
|A little Sunday footballing and beering at Smoke on the Water.|
When home in Greenville, Sunday is often my beer day. I'll wander downtown, drinking a couple of beers here and a couple there.
A few weeks ago, I rediscovered a great little purveyor of beer on Augusta Street in the West End: The Growler Station. I had strolled through it a couple of weeks after it opened two or three years ago, but hadn't been back since.
At the time of my original visit, it was strictly a beer-to-go joint selling draft growlers and six packs. I only drink beer at home when company comes a callin'. I purchased six six packs of craft beer last April when three of my buddies came for a multi-day visit. Every bottle that was in my fridge when they left is still there 11 months later. Obviously I wasn't the Growler Station's target market.
Having changed its license to allow drinking on the premises, today The Growler Station has a couple of long tables and three den-like seating areas where, if so inclined, one may relax and sip on one of the marvelous rotating craft beers on tap. Or, buy a bottle or two out of the cooler.
|If it's not on tap, it's probably in a bottle in the cooler.|
|The growler filling station.|
Historically one issue with buying growlers has been that they must be consumed in no more than two or three days after being filled or they skunk. Not so with The Growler Station's system. It is poured and sealed in such a way that it will keep unopened for three or four weeks. Once opened, the two-to-three day race is on, but unopened, it will keep for weeks.
Here's something else you'll like, the people behind the bar really know what they are talking about – well, at least they do if they are talking about beer.
|Pierre Goulette and Big Jon Richards.|
Manager Pierre Goulette has been a fixture in the hospitality industry around Greenville for years. Assistant manager Big Jon Richards fulfilled the first segment for certification as a Cicerone, the beer equivalent of wine's Sommelier. These guys know beer, happily fielding questions from craft-beer novices and veterans alike.
|Class is in session; let the tasting begin!|
Big Jon is happy to share his knowledge and does so officially at two or three different tasting classes each month. Making classes easier to attend, each is held on Wednesday and Saturday evenings. The cost is a very respectable $5. I did the Saturday edition of the chocolate stout class in February and the Wednesday version of the Irish Beers class several days ago.
|The ideal spot to drink and conversate.|
The Growler Station has become part of my Sunday-beer routine. Because of the casual layout of the seating areas and the affability of beer drinkers in general, I've had some entertaining afternoons with terrific conversations in the place. If any pregnant pauses do occur, there are any number of books or magazines to read, and board games to play. Or, if you are like me, you'll take advantage of the break in the conversation to get another beer.
Although they sell a few snacks, if you're not into beef jerky, you might want bring eats with you. Smoke on the Water and Mellow Mushroom are a block away, and Smiley's is right next door. No problem with bringing food in.
It's at 109 Augusta Street. For the 4-1-1, go to www.growler-station.com or call 864-400-8327.