Thursday, October 4, 2012

BevMo! - a Beer Drinker's Paradise?!

After five years in San Diego, I was more than well versed with the offerings of BevMo, their extensive choices of all things wine, beer and spirits.  While I didn’t always take advantage of the locations nearest me there, the grand opening and newness of the idea here in WA seems to have wrapped me up in its fold of excitement.
In principle the idea remains the same between the states, offer a great selection of wine, beer and spirits and do so at an affordable cost while maintaining a locally owned small town feel, this is not a box store.  The South Center store offers all of this and more.  With an approximately 500 square foot tasting area, the store is well suited for events, casual tastings as well as educational seminars.  It is a focal point really with direct line of site from the front entrance.
The real reason I was there though was to educate myself on the beer department and I was surprised to learn some neat features about the set-up as well as the unique opportunity WA state laws have given beer drinkers in this mecca for beer. 

The beer department at SouthCenter
Beer is offered in cases, six packs and singles of varying sizes.  The aisles are marked with locally sourced choices (look for the green signage which throughout the store indicates local), domestics and imports from around the world.  As my visit was during Oktoberfest, there was a section dedicated to these flavorful concoctions as well as their cider companions.  Additionally, a great eight case cold section in the back offers ready to go beers for that last minute party or after work libation need.

Cold case with Growler Station on far end
BevMo also offers you party throwers keg options.  With 150 different beer options available in five gallons sizes all the way to 15.5 gallon sizes at varying price points, there is sure to be something to meet your needs and those of your guests.  For those tastier, but less requested keg options call ahead as it may not be on site and readily available like say your Bud Light.
While the above is all pretty standard for the many BevMo locations I have ventured in to between Arizona, California and now Washington, the crown jewel for the Washington stores is the Growler Station courtesy of WA state law regarding growler filling.  In many other states you can only fill a growler at the location you purchased it with the brand of beer it was made for, so if you purchased a Stone growler you could only fill it with Stone in CA, etc.  Here in WA, it doesn’t matter what growler you have, you can fill it with anything!  That is where this Growler Room becomes a great thing for those beer drinkers who like to try new things fresh from the tap.  For those of you who don’t own a growler, never fear, you can buy one at Bevmo for $8.99.
Growler Station featuring "On Tap Now"

The Growler Station works like this, you either bring in or purchase your growler and head to the room which is in the far back corner of the beer section.  Then select your beer from those offered on tap, at the time of my visit there were ten ranging in price from $8-13 for a growler fill.  They included a personal favorite of mine, Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA as well as local favorites like Manny’s and Elysian Men’s Room.  In talking with the staff their goal is to keep on tap local beers as well as those hard to find microbrews from around the country, if it’s in limited release they want to have it in their room.  Once you have your beer selected you’re going to need to find a staffer, sorry, they don’t keep the room unlocked, can you imagine the mayhem that would ensue!  Find yourself a helpful staffer and they’ll fill your growler and get you checked out.  If you come in with your own growler your total cost is that of the beer you select, if not you’ll have a basic start-up of the $8.99 growler cost plus that of your selected beer.
I don’t know of a better way to try beer in a fresh from the keg way, unless you are at a bar!  If there’s one thing I learned from this visit, it is that the growlers I left in San Diego with friends are being ungifted and brought up to Seattle!

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