A few weeks ago, we had the opportunity to brew with the good folks at Mystery Brewing Company in Hillsborough, where we brewed up a Triple Ginger Tripel that will be on tap when we open the doors. Yesterday, we continued with our collaboration series by heading out to Saxapahaw to what is (I believe) North Carolina's NEWEST craft brewery, Haw River Farmhouse Ales. The quaint little town of Saxapahaw has some fantastic attractions, including The Eddy Pub, the General Store, and now it's own 10-barrel brewery.
In planning out the store, we knew we wanted to have a good selection of beer on draft and available to fill growlers via our counter-pressure filling system, but we had to make a decision as to how many different beers we wanted to offer at any given time. I would be lying to you if I said cost didn't play a factor in deciding on how many taps to install, but that is far from the only reason. We didn't want to open up with 40, 50, or 100 taps, even if we had the space and the money to do so. This may seem counter-intuitive to some, as our American mindset tells us that more is always better. But in this case, we didn't think so.
The big question that everyone has been asking us over the last few months has been "so, when is The Glass Jug going to open up?" That's a fair question, and I wish I could answer it better. The good news is that we are getting to a point where we'll be able to answer it soon with much more confidence (but not today, so don't get too excited)!
The big hurdle to the "when are you opening" question has been construction. Our little store is not a big construction project, and for each individual contractor, it's just a small portion of their schedule. Because of that, our project has been subject to shifts in schedule. Additionally, there are always some unforeseen setbacks, like accidentally cutting a water main that wasn't buried at the correct depth in the concrete slab floor. But that's a story for another day.
The good news is that we have turned a corner, and the rest of the process should go much faster from here on out. A lot of the work that has been done to this point has been the stuff you don't see or notice, things like electrical, HVAC, and plumbing. But our contractors began building the new wall today, and we'll be installing the bar, sinks, dishwasher, and the draft beer system in the coming weeks.
Above is a short photo gallery that shows you what's happened thus far (You can click on the images to see larger versions).
We're hoping to post another update in a few short weeks with the back wall finished, and the bar and equipment in place. And, since you read all the way to the end, I'll let you in on a little secret...we're currently aiming for a grand opening by mid-September. ;)
Being green has always been a priority for Katy and I. So naturally, so we want our business to be environmentally friendly, as well. The great thing about serving beer in growlers is that it's already inherently green. You only need to purchase a few growlers and you can reuse them many times, which dramatically cuts down on waste as compared to traditional bottles and cans. And, if you ever tire of your trusty growler, it's recyclable (as are beer bottles and cans)! As far as growlers go, one big question people ask is whether we'll only fill growlers with our own logo on them. But we figure, "Why create more waste when we know many of you already have a perfectly good growler sitting at home?" We are focused on growler filling, not selling growlers themselves. While we will have some (pretty awesome) growlers available for purchase, we will fill any clean growler you bring in.
We are also doing some really great things with the upfit of our space to be kind to the earth. Yesterday, I spent the day over at Braeburn Farms. Why? I was busy picking out a stack of reclaimed wood from a 100 year old barn. This wood will eventually be used as the front of our bar (and maybe some other places throughout the store), and trust me, it's going to look awesome. A BIG BIG thank you to the generous folks at Braeburn for letting us have this lumber for free. And an especially huge thank you to Jonathan Romm for crawling through the wood pile with me and helping to find the best, most interesting pieces, and cutting them to size.
Also, on Saturday, I took a drive up to the beautiful countryside of Virginia where my (very generous) uncle had set aside some cherry boards he had cut from a fallen tree in his yard a couple years ago. These are fantastic hardwood planks - I mean really fantastic, heavy, high quality boards. They will soon be cleaned up, plained, sanded, and sealed to be used as a gorgeous bar top for you to set your beer on while at The Glass Jug. And there look to be enough pieces with a live edge that we can use that on the front of the bar, which will give it a great look.
We are so thankful for everyone who has donated materials, and building this very custom bar ourselves will make it even more special.
Additionally, a lot of the equipment we'll be using (outside of the draft beer serving equipment) is used equipment purchased from other businesses. So far, this includes our sinks, table legs, a walk-in cooler, and some chairs. This list will likely grow as we get closer to the grand opening.
While we know our efforts are a mere drop in the proverbial bucket, we hope to continue making strides to do our part in caring for our planet, all while enjoying delicious hand-crafted local beer!
Ok, enough hippy tree hugging for one day. ;)
We just put in our first apparel order, which means we will soon have Glass Jug t-shirts and tank tops ready for you to purchase! You could be the coolest kid on the block, sporting some Glass Jug swag before we open. Details coming soon regarding when they'll be ready to purchase and how to buy. In the meantime, below are a few teasers of what we've got in store.
Let us know what you think, and if you would like to be notified as soon as shirts are available for purchase, just sign up for our mailing list (there's a nifty little form over to the right) and we'll make sure you are the first to know. We're also going to have some pretty sweet growler carriers, koozies, and coolers in stock as well - so you can keep your beer cold wherever you take it.
As we have begun telling people (read: everyone we've ever met) about The Glass Jug, one question that keeps coming up, given that we're homebrewers, is whether or not we will be brewing our own beer at The Glass Jug. That is actually a more complicated question than most people realize. While we would love to brew our own beer, it would require a much larger space and upfront investment in equipment, in addition to extra labor, and could possibly land us in trouble with the ABC commission.
The US beer market operates within the three tier system. This basically means that:
- Breweries make the beer & sell it to distributors
- Then, distributors sell it to retailers
- And only then can retailers sell it to the public.
There are some common exceptions for small breweries, allowing them to self-distribute and operate their own tap rooms. However, from our understanding of the law, a retail beer store cannot also own a brewery, because we would have too many "guest taps" to be considered a brewery tap room.
Beyond this, we have opted to open a retail bottle shop and growler filling station because we have seen the massive growth in craft breweries in North Carolina - to the tune of a 30%+ increase in the number of craft breweries in our state last year alone! NC now has roughly 100 craft breweries. Yes, seriously. And all of these breweries need places to sell their beer. While we have seen several bottle shops open over the past few years, it has not yet matched the growth we've seen in breweries.
But, back to the main question - we are still homebrewers at heart, so we are working on ways to get some of our own recipes into the store without necessarily brewing it on-site. The first will be the Berlin Menagerie, which is my berliner weisse beer that I brewed alongside the crew at Raleigh Brewing Company after winning the Carolina Quarterly Brew-Off 2013. And while we cannot legally co-brand any beer with breweries (back to the three tier issue), we do have plans to work with some of our favorite local breweries to craft some special limited release beers to put in your growlers. We're not ready to release any details yet, but be on the lookout for some fun and unique brews for our grand opening and on a regular basis throughout the year (trust me, we've already got several brews in the works we're super excited about)!
Designing a store can be overwhelming. There are so many details and things to consider. And what if we make a poor decision and are stuck with a layout that doesn't work well for us our our customers? But designing a store is also exciting. Having (almost) total control of the layout and being able to plan for all of the little things that are going to make it feel more welcoming and enjoyable for our customers is a lot of fun.
In all honesty, we have found a great location (more about that in a later blog post) and a space that is already laid out so we don't have to do much (relatively) to make it work. But all of the small details add up, and we're trying to pay attention to each one to make it really awesome.
- The bar will be built long enough to have room for several people to sit comfortably at the bar, and there will be a separate counter section for retail purchases. The goal is to avoid the awkward experience of squeezing between people sitting at the bar to order drinks and pay your tab and to make it easy for folks who just want to stop in quickly and grab some beer to go.
- Almost all our tables will be high-top, oversized cocktail tables, allowing up to 4 people to sit comfortably at each and accommodate standing. We think this will go a long way to help the flow when we're crowded. We will also have one or two standard-height tables to accommodate handicapped guests and others who will be more comfortable at a standard height table.
- We're making room for retail shopping away from the seating area, so you don't have to squeeze between tables to get to the beer on the shelves.
- There are two bathrooms, so hopefully you won't have to wait in line very long, even when we're busy.
- We're adding a (very small) walk-in cooler, big enough to keep a handful of kegs cold. This means that if we run out of a beer, we can easily and quickly swap it out without having to wait 24 hours for the next keg to cool down to serving temperature.
- All of the lighting will either be LED or have UV filters installed, helping to prevent any of the beer on our shelves from getting light-struck and skunky.
- With so many beer styles out there, we know it will be hard to implement an organization structure ideal for every customer. We're planning our shelving layout to make it as easy as possible to find the beer you're looking for, and it's a priority of ours to have clear signage.
Below is a quick snap snot of the preliminary plans. Let us know what you think or what features you most enjoy about a craft beer store/bar, as some things are still a bit fluid at this point!
Also, here's a photo that Richard Mitchell snapped for us at the space. A true "before" shot.
April is North Carolina Beer month, and The Glass Jug is a craft beer store and growler station announcing plans to open in the South Durham / RTP area! NC Law & the evolving beer scene: Last July, The North Carolina General Assembly passed a law allowing retail stores to fill growlers (64- and 32-ounce reusable jugs) with draft beer for customers. This legislation could have a significant impact on the way local and craft beer is enjoyed in the state. Other states with similar regulations (including South Carolina and Virginia) are seeing a surge in the amount of craft beer consumed in growlers. Today, Triangle residents buying beer to drink at home are usually limited to the selection of brews packaged and sold in bottles or cans. There is a large (and growing) selection of craft beer consumers are missing out on.
Because the equipment and labor needed to package beer in bottles or cans is expensive for breweries, the larger craft breweries are able to bottle or can their best-sellers or year-round offerings, but the smaller craft breweries can’t afford to bottle or can at all, distributing only draft beer. Allowing retail shops to fill growlers opens up the local beer market to consumers, enabling them to bring home beer that could previously only be consumed on-site at a restaurant or bar.
“The issue most impacting NC brewers and beer drinkers is the change to state laws last June pertaining to 64 oz containers (“growlers”) for beer,” said John Szymankiewicz of the Beer Law Center. “This change has opened the doors for breweries, bars, and restaurants to start filing consumer’s growlers, increasing the convenience factor for the consumer significantly.”
Why are we different from other craft beer stores? While other retail beer stores are beginning to fill growlers from their taps, no other Durham store is utilizing counter-pressure filling technology. This technology is typically only utilized by breweries, even though it is now available for retail stores and restaurants to purchase. This is of huge significance because when you fill a growler directly from a draft beer faucet, the customer must drink it within a day or two, otherwise the beer will lose carbonation and begin to go stale due to oxidation. Counter-pressure filling growlers allows the beer to store for longer periods of time and at a consistently high quality, comparable to a brewery-filled bottled beer. Once opened, however, all growlers must be consumed within a day or two.
“Think of it this way - you wouldn’t pour yourself a glass of beer and put some saran wrap over the top, set it in your fridge for a few days, then come back to drink it later, would you? When you fill growlers directly from the tap, this is basically what you’re doing, and we don’t want to be part of that,” said Chris Creech, co-founder of The Glass Jug. “We want to make sure consumers have the best possible experience with their craft beer, and the only way to ensure that level of quality is to fill growlers using counter-pressure.”
This is huge for consumers, because counter-pressure filled growlers are a much more consistent and high-quality option when purchasing beer. It is also important to local breweries, all of whom value counter-pressure filling as the only sure way to fill growlers and ensure consistent quality for customers drinking their beer.
The rejuvenation of South Durham The revitalization of downtown Durham has received a great deal of attention in recent years, but not everyone realizes the major changes going on in South Durham. The largely residential area between Southpoint and RTP is becoming a popular destination for local families and young professionals. Katy and Chris Creech, co-founders of the Glass Jug, are excited to bring more people to the area.
Greenwood Commons, where The Glass Jug is set to open in August, is on Hwy 55 a mile south of I-40. The bustling shopping center is full of local restaurants including Indian, Thai, Bolivian and Greek cuisine, in addition to Papa Mojos, a Cajun restaurant that has won several local awards and provides a venue for live music. The South Durham Farmers’ Market also provides an outlet for fresh meats, cheese, and vegetables every Saturday morning in the Greenwood Commons parking lot.
“We are really looking forward to becoming part of this growing South Durham community and showing off this exciting neighborhood to area craft beer drinkers,” said Katy Creech. “With so many great places to eat and shop, we feel a place to buy excellent local and craft beer will bring a lot to this area.”
About The Glass Jug The Glass Jug is a craft beer store and growler filling station planning to open on Hwy 55 in South Durham in August 2014. With the use of counter-pressure growler filling technology, extending draft beer freshness and maintaining consistently high quality, The Glass Jug plans to lead North Carolina in allowing all local and craft beer to be enjoyed at home.