GAINESVILLE - It's not official yet, but judging from Gainesville City Council's first reading vote Tuesday evening,the city's first 'Growler' is welcome.
Council members voted 4-1 for the proposed amendment to the Alcoholic Beverages ordinance that defines a growler, provides for the filling of growlers and the consumption of samples of tap beers.
Co-owner of 'Growlers on Main' in downtown historic Flowery Branch, Alan Davenport, is looking forward to opening his Gainesville outlet soon. So, what exactly is a growler?
"A growler is a container, the glass container that we sell," Davenport explained. "It comes in a 64 ounce and a 32 ounce. The actual name comes from back in the 1800's when workers went to the bar after work and would take beer home in their lunch pails. The sound of the draft beer hitting the bottom of that tin pail and the growling of it is where the name came from."
Davenport says he won't be selling the brands you see advertised on television. He focuses on independent local breweries in Georgia. He's going to offer beer from eight Georgia breweries and plans to also have Belgian and German draft beers available at his location in downtown Gainesville on Bradford Street just off the square. The only consumption allowed on premises is sampling. Once the growlers are filled and sealed, they go home.
"If we're fortunate enough to have the ordinance passed it'll take effect April 10th," Davenport said. "We would like to do a soft opening on tax day April 15th and maybe run a tax day special and then do a grand opening on May 1st."
The Flowery Branch Growlers has been open six weeks and Davenport bragged on a recent event that brought in hundreds of customers.
"We had our first festival that we sponsored, the Irish Band Jam, with proceeds going to 'Shop with a Cop' and we had over 1,200 people, 1,200 customers there," Davenport recalled. "To be able to bring craft beer to the community where they can taste things responsibly and make a decision on what they would like to take home with them is what 'Growlers' is all about."
The one no vote came from Councilman George Wangemann, a stalwart opponent of any alcohol related retail expansion in the city.
"This is just another way for people to get beer," Wangemann said. "I know they can't drink it in the business establishment, but again it's another opportunity for somebody to get drunk and possibly go out on the road, doing things that are illegal that are sometimes hurtful to other people."
Wangemann recalled instances where drunk drivers caused deaths, citing the death of a friend who died in a wreck caused by a drunk driver on Dawsonville Highway. Commenting on the 4-1 vote favoring the growler, Wangemann said elected officials look at revenues but don't look at the expense side which includes enforcing the ordinance and the D.U.I and B.U.I laws against driving a car or boat while intoxicated.
Davenport said he advocates responsible behavior with alcohol, and besides, he doesn't just sell draft beer. He'll fill up a growler with non-alcoholic root beer, cherry cola, or cream soda, also on tap. The root beer is his number one seller.