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45-tap beer growler store coming to Drayton Tower in Savannah

Spring is the season for beer growlers in Savannah.

Last year about this time, Parker’s Market Urban Gourmet on Drayton Street launched the city’s first 64-ounce, beer-jug-to-go program to widespread fanfare.

Now The Beer Growler, an Atlanta-based franchise selling 32- and 64-ounce jugs of take-home craft beer, is coming to the southwest corner of the refurbished Drayton Tower in the retail space formerly occupied by Mopper-Stapen Realtors The Condo Store and Segway of Savannah.

“We’ll have about 45 craft-beer taps,” said Savannah franchisee Nolan Wolf, a first-time business owner and Air Force veteran who’s living part-time with family on Whitemarsh Island while his wife, an Air Force officer, is stationed in Warner Robins. “We expect to finalize the terms of the lease by Monday. I’m hopeful.” Wolf expects the store to open sometime in April.

Wolf says he was attracted to the space at the corner of Liberty and Drayton streets because of its visibility, its renewed energy and his love of Savannah.

“It was a chance to do something I love, to bring something we love to a city we love.”

Click here to read more about the rebirth of Drayton Tower.

The Beer Growler launched two years ago in Athens and quickly spread to six locations in the Atlanta metro area, said Denny Young, one of the chain’s three founding partners. The Savannah location will be its seventh.

On an average day, each location sells “100 to 300 growlers a day,” Young said, with 32-ounce fill-ups starting at $5. Half-gallon pours run $9 and up, with an initial $4.99 for the bottle.

“Our pricing is really good,” Young said, “but it’s really all about the quality of the beer. When we can get really rare beers we do.”

The Savannah location will feature brews from across the nation, Young said, with an emphasis on those produced in Georgia.

“We’re hoping to get some Moon River Brewing Co. stuff,” he noted. “We’ve sold Moon River stuff in Atlanta before. … They’ve been phenomenal.”

“I think beer is ‘it’ in Georgia right now,” Wolf added.

Local businessman Greg Parker christened Savannah’s first growlers just before St. Patrick’s Day 2012, charting what was largely unknown territory because of the murkiness of growler-related state law and the historic district’s unique open-container area.

“Thankfully our city fathers saw the wisdom of allowing it,” Parker said. “Every single Whole Foods has one. It is a sealed container when it’s taken out of the store, so it meets the objectives.”

Parker has since launched growlers at a second location, in Bluffton, S.C., and expects his program to continue to expand.

“Mr. Parker has done a great job of raising folks’ awareness in Savannah,” Wolf said. “We’re not looking to compete with him.

“I know Savannah has a huge love for all things local,” he added, citing community-centric niche retailers like Brighter Day Natural Foods as his business model. “And I’ve seen the wild success of it in Atlanta.”

Wolf sees The Beer Growler eventually catering to the entire Coastal Empire, not just downtown residents.

“We’re working on getting parking — 15-minute parking — for The Beer Growler,” Wolf explained, “so someone who lives out on Wilmington or Whitemarsh can stop by driving through. I want it to be for everyone.”

It’ll definitely be an added attraction for prospective Drayton Tower residents. Tenants moved into the first of 99 luxury rental units in the refurbished tower Feb. 1. Other ground-floor retailers will include a restaurant and a locally-owned coffee shop.

“We’ve got a lot of activity,” said Jason Smallwood of AVTEX Commercial Properties, the firm handling the retail leasing. “We’re looking at what’s the best mix for the overall building. There’s definitely some solid stuff.”

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