Photo by Rachel Shirey
Ethan White-Fredette, with Barley and Vine, fills a 64-ounce growler of Allagash Black for a customer. The growler bar was recently granted a tasting license to allow locals to try specialty beer before purchasing.
By Rachel Shirey
STOCKBRIDGE — Yes, you can.
You can taste the specialty craft beer before you buy it at the growler bar.
Yes, the city of Stockbridge allows it.
The city issued its first ancillary wine and growler malt beverage tasting license last week under a new ordinance that permits wine shops and package malt beverage shops to allow tasting of their respective beverages.
Local business Barley and Vine brought the issue to the City Council’s attention and suggested it was an issue that warranted a policy change.
“This new ordinance helps folks make a more informed decision before making their purchase,” owner Dan Vallish said. “This also permits educational tastings where local micro-breweries and wineries can provide a sampling of their products while educating folks about the background and other interesting details that went into making the wine or craft brewed beer being sampled.”
Barley and Vine carries 27 high-quality craft brewed beer and wines that range from $9 to $19 for a 64-ounce fill. Growlers are typically half-gallon take-home glass jugs. Businesses, like Barley and Vine, want to offer growlers because of the growing popularity of craft beer.
“At a very grassroots level, when people are coming in here, and they’re looking at buying a 64-ounce growler of beer, or a 32-ounce, sometimes it’s a little daunting and they don’t really know what these different beers taste like,” said co-owner Kat Vallish. “So if we can let them have a little sample to taste a particular beer, then that makes it easier for them to make a decision — especially when they’re committing themselves to that much beer.”
After a three-month process, the Vallishes paid a $210 regulatory fee to the city to allow patrons to try four two-ounce samples within two hours.
Kat Vallish said she was surprised by how easy the city made the process, saying they just needed to understand what a growler bar entailed — that they are not a traditional bar.
“They want to see businesses succeed in Henry County, and more specifically in Stockbridge,” said Kat Vallish. “So they were very supportive in helping us. That was their question. ‘Is this going to help your business succeed?’ And it does. It’s a direct relationship to succeeding.”
Kat Vallish said she is excited to see their business grow and for sales to climb, and added that customers have been delighted to discover they can taste the beer before they purchase it.
“(Before now), we’ve had to say, ‘No, we can’t,’ ” she said. “But now we can say, ‘Yes, we can.’ ”