Beer BonanzaBy Lori DeBoer If you like beer and a community-based brewery, you are going to love Growler USA. Lenore and Brian Jagerson are the founders of the new Growler USA in Louisville, which is a small national chain that started out as a tiny growler filling station in Eugene, Ore. “We had been looking around for something do for a small business—we wanted something fun that took a little bit of thinking, so we ran into this and started researching it and liked the concept,” says Brian. Beer is something that Brian is passionate about. He was exposed to good beer when he spent some time in Germany as a kid and then, again, when he was stationed there during his service. The nice thing about the Growler franchise is that it allows its individual owners the ability to change up the menu and offerings to suit local tastes. So, their original concept ended up ballooning and they decided they needed to go a step above and offer craft food. “We doubled our staff to accommodate a full kitchen and we have a chef-inspired menu,” says Lenore. “They want us to thrive independently in the area where we live, so we serve gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian options.” The portions are decidedly generous; if you get a chicken tender, it has three-and-a-half chicken breasts. Other popular menu items include the Seared Mahi-Mahi, which is served with sweet coleslaw, chimichurri and your choice of a side, which includes perfectly crisp potato tots. The Ahi Paradise Salad features a sesame seed-crusted seared ahi fillet on a field of mixed greens, sweet coleslaw, fresh avocado slices and red pepper, served with a drizzle of wasabi mayo and Paradise vinaigrette. You can opt for a chicken cobb salad or a Caesar salad as well. Beer goes best with burgers, so the six types of craft burgers, which use hand-formed patties, are crowd- pleasers. The chili cheesesburger, with lightly spiced chili, shredded cheddar cheese and red onion is great for cooler summer nights. Their sunrise burger comes with an egg cooked sunny-side up, bacon, mayo and Tillamook cheddar, and is served with a side of tots.
The beers on tap, of course, are the highlight of any visit.A long row of taps with handles displaying the different brews makes for an interesting focal point behind the bar. And you won’t get bored, since the selection always changes. “During winter, we feature stout and dark beers that have a lot of kick to them, and during summer, we feature easy-drinking Kolsches and fruity beer,” says Brian. With 100 beers on tap, the selection offers something for everybody. “We have a lot of higher-end beers, so it’s not just a certain kind of beer enthusiast that comes here because of the level of our beers,” says Lenore. Some of the beers have higher alcohol levels and are priced accordingly. Many of the beers on tap come from local brewers, such as Odd 13 in Lafayette and Grossen Bart out of Longmont. They do have some harder-to-find beers; they have a line on Bells out of Michigan, which doesn’t get distributed very often in Colorado. Growler USA features a weekly pint night, where a brewery comes in with a featured beer. “We handpick all the beers, and our beertenders have tasted some and turned them away because they don’t meet our standards,” says Lenore. The beertenders are trained cicerones, which is the beer equivalent of a sommelier. “They have been trained in beer handling, distribution and beer care and just understanding if a beer has gone bad,” says Brian. “They know how to change the kegs, make sure lines are clean and how to make sure the glasses are set up correctly. In addition to beer, they also carry 12 different wines, including a Kingman wine out of Denver. They also carry St. Mahems out of Napa, which is a craft wine that can be infused with either jalapeño or coffee. They carry some ciders as well, and a few glutenreduced beers to go along with the gluten-free menu. Since it is a neighborhood eatery, the couple focused on creating a laid-back and family-friendly atmosphere. “We have game nights, and stacks of games—giant Jenga and tic-tac-toe,” says Lenore. “A lot of kids come in with their families—many ride their bikes here—and we put cornhole out on the empty field for them to enjoy.” The restaurant also hosts a Geeks Who Drink event on Tuesday nights, with challenging trivia. It’s fitting that Growler USA is a family affair, as the Jagersons’ two grown kids, Zackary and Jessica, are working with them. “We’ve met so many neat people,” Brian says. “Plus, there’s so much beer out there. I’m always tasting it, and getting beers in people haven’t tasted, so it’s been a lot of fun.”
Growler USA (303-665-9967, www.growlerusa.com) is located at 1071 Courtesy Road, Louisville 80027. It is open Monday-Thursday 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Friday 11 a.m.-midnight, Saturday 10:30 a.m.- midnight and Sunday 10:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m.