I learned a wonderful lesson on this venture, and I might even say I embraced a new perspective. The first hour I spent at the new beer joint, Craft & Growler, was muddled by sunlight. Initially, I thought of the interior and its personality as an empty classroom space with very little warmth. It seemed unfinished and not particularly conducive to the cavernous regions of depth and darkness that I prefer whilst I drink the sweet nectar of hops. But as the sun set softly behind the city streets, I found my eyes growing used to this large brew house of joy and wealth. I immediately realized that perhaps it was because I started imbibing at 4 in the afternoon, when no one else was there, and the hefty wooden tables that covered the place shone too brightly. I asked a stranger to slap my face for my shortsightedness and initial snobbery. The night came with a soothing winter gust of bar folk, conviviality, and dimly lit coziness. I sat back in my low leaning leather chair at the front corner, all patrons before me enlivened by the energy and ease that swept through Craft & Growler. Darkness descended with its loving arms. I apologize.
I ordered my first beer and made my moves. To start things off, I chose the Mother’s Little Fracker Stout from Revolver. The richly roasted aroma carried itself well and the glass felt strangely heavy in my hand. It poured slow and thick with a welcoming bitterness that finished like a velvety net of dark chocolate across my palate. This magnificent stout carried me into its home, no doubt a sacred cast iron keg nestled into an ancient red wood that housed a family of cedar gnomes living on beer and wooly mammoths. The almost buttery aftertaste left me weak in the knees and vulnerable to all advancing whimsy. I was then joined by a South American gentleman who claimed he knew a great many secrets. “Sure thing, bro. Have a seat.” We ordered the Peticolas Wintervention and the Four Corners La Bajada, both from Dallas. The Wintervention had an aroma of ginger with a strong mouth feel. This dark ale was no light stepper, and the ginger and cinnamon finish was delightful and provocative. It was uncharacteristically easy to drink at 10%, while its smooth darkness seemed like something that Shaft would drink. La Bajada is an American brown ale and penetrated subtly and lightly into the mouth. The round and robust flavor led to a roasted finish, and this gentle beauty is an easy drinker with light hops.
We hopped next (see what I did there) to the Cedar Creek Scruffy’s Smoked Alt from Seven Points, Texas and the Eel River Raven’s Eye Imperial Stout from California. Scruffy’s was monumentally smoked, as the aroma sent visions of handsomely smoked meats and cedar bustling through my brain. The smokiness from this beer means it’s not for everyone, but I loved it. The scents and flavors settled comfortably inside my chest, and nostalgic visions of campfires and cookouts sailed in happy circles. The Eel River Stout had a malty, sweet aroma and rich chocolate flavors. It’s a full-bodied, heavy handed imperial stout, as it should be, and it finished with a hint of espresso and a lingering smoothness on the tongue. It’s best if you sip this one slowly.
Craft & Growler is a warehouse beer shop and bar with plenty of concrete, charm, and variety. They sell a remarkable array of growlers ranging from big to small, American to German, screw-top to flip-top, and even on-the-go stainless steel varieties. There are community tables, majestically tiled high ceilings, and some really cool wagon wheel light fixtures. It’s an inviting and open interior with a friendly staff, bearded flannel patrons, and Motown soul from the speakers.