Today I would like to fondly introduce you to one of my favorite local establishments, The Daily Growler. Situated in an unassuming center of stores at the corner of Fishinger and Riverside in Upper Arlington, it may be easy to overlook at first, but The Daily Growler is a local gem that should not be missed.
A relatively new bar/growler-filling mecca here in Columbus, Ohio, the Growler opened on December 17th last year, about a week before Christmas. Opening when most folks are off work, thirsty, and in need of reprieve from the shopping malls is definitely not a venture for the faint of heart, but the Growler valiantly succeeded. In fact it has earned a great reputation from newbies and regular customers alike. After all, who wouldn’t love a place that offers 60 fresh craft beers on draft, as well as Happy Hour 7 days a week!
I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with the co-owner, and self-proclaimed Growler Czar, John Blakely during my most recent visit. He graciously shared his thoughts on how business was going and how the experience has been to date.
The Daily Growler is a family business, but John is the go-to guy and the face you’ll most likely see when you get your growlers filled or sit down to drink a pint. And when I say “pint” I mean a full pint! John emphasized that they don’t skimp on their pours at the Growler – their pint glasses are true to size – and half off during Happy Hour!
John is cool, laid-back guy originally from Ohio but who spent time out west after college, which is when he started to develop his own love of craft beer. He also spent some time in Portland, where he said the mindset isn’t what six-pack to pick up, but rather the question is “What craft beer should fill up my growler?”. Surprisingly enough, the term “growler” is still a relatively a new concept to many people, so if you’re unfamiliar with the term, this article on Beer Advocate explains it pretty well.
The Daily Growler fills a somewhat niche market. As you walk through the front door, the first thing that catches your eye is the row of 60 taps spanning the back wall and the family-style seating at large tables. The atmosphere is much more like a coffee shop than a typical bar, where you can buy a drink, hang out with friends, or shop-and-go.
The Growler is also a good destination if you’re having a casual event or a private party – they have a large back room that can be rented for a nominal fee, plus a refundable deposit to reserve the room (and prevent no-shows).
The primary criticism you’ll read about the Growler on review sites is the rather spartan approach they’ve taken with their decorating style. What most of you may not know, however, is that this is a prime example of designing with purpose – and being a designer myself by trade – trust me – I know what I’m talking about! Plus, the Growler is still evolving and they’ve been adding cool little touches over time. For example, between my last two visits they added large flat-screen TVs to the back room, display shelves with growler kits and board games, and a few other touches here and there.
John explained they carefully considered their design choices for the Growler, and went with the minimalist approach for one primary reason – to encourage interaction between mingling customers, and to encourage customers to ask questions about the beer when selecting their choices at the counter. Think about it this way, if all the taps look the same, you won’t be influenced to go with just what you know, but perhaps to ask some questions and try something new (and you just may like it!).
The Growler strongly emphasizes one thing about their beer – they strive to serve the freshest craft beer possible. Kegs are frequently rotated, and if you come in for a growler refill, they swap out your old growler for sanitized, chilled one. I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t have a special growler dishwasher at my house! This is why they will only fill their own growlers, but when you first purchase one it’s only $4, and if you pair that with their Daily Growler special of the day, you can’t go wrong with price.
Also worth a mention, they make their own root beer as well, and as a self-proclaimed root beer aficionado, I will flat-out state that their root beer is damn good. In fact I almost wanted to fill a growler of just that alone!
One last thing to note, they don’t serve food at the Growler, and as stated on their website, “We are beer experts, we leave food to the food experts.” However, you’re definitely encouraged to bring your own food in to eat while you drink, and you can also ask to look at the menus for the 3 restaurants located in the same shopping center – they’ll gladly deliver your order right to the door.
Summing things up, I highly recommend The Daily Growler for all of your growler-filling needs, or just somewhere to stop by for a well-deserved break and a couple of pints. You never know, you may end up liking one of the beers so much that you head home with a full growler for your friends or family to share!
Want to tell John how the Growler is a job well done? Just keep your eyes open for the guy behind the counter wearing flip flops – yes even on a cold, snowy Ohio day! I’d personally call this his trademark; he says he simply feels more comfortable that way, and his feet do too!
Want more of The Daily Growler?
Thirsty for more? Check out The Daily Growler’s website, and if you’re interested in The Daily Growler special of the day, I recommend that you “like” their Facebook page to get regular updates. If you’re an Instagram fan, you can also find them by searching for @thedailygrowler.
Have you been to The Daily Growler? If so, what did you think? Post your feedback or comments below.