Three varieties of craft beers and a hard cider are offered on tap

Kelsick Specialty Market

The growler has come to Gloucester.

Kelsick Specialty Market on Main Street in the Gloucester Village is now a growler station, offering fills and refills of a selection of craft beers and hard ciders for customers carrying the distinctive half-gallon bottles.

Whether purchasing a Kelsick Specialty Market growler bottle on site or bringing their own, customers can enjoy the fresh taste of draft beer and hard ciders thanks to the convenience of the growler station.

Kelsick Specialty Market owner Beth Haskell said that since the recent opening of the growler station — essentially a “keg box” refrigerator that dispenses craft beer from kegs — about 150 growler orders have been filled. A typical growler jug is 64 oz., the equivalent of four pints.

The Kelsick Specialty Market growler station is offering a mix of craft beers and hard ciders, including lighter, darker, seasonal and “hoppy” varieties.

“We’re trying to have a nice mix so that no matter who comes in, there will be at least one beer they will like,” Haskell said.

Kelsick Specialty Market Manager Megan Brockman said that in addition to filling the standard 64 oz. growler bottles, the market will fill smaller bottles as well.

“There is a big difference between drinking a fresh draft beer and opening a can or bottle,” Brockman said.

In addition to providing a variety of craft beers and hard ciders, there’s the convenience of avoiding having to drive to Williamsburg, Norfolk or Richmond for a growler, Haskell said.

“We’re trying to provide beers that are not necessarily found in bottles or cans so you can enjoy them the way that you would at a restaurant or the brew pub,” she said.

The growler station is currently offering the Devil’s Backbone “Nelson Saison” from a recipe conceived by Devil’s Backbone Craft Adventure Coordinator Warren Haskell, Beth Haskell’s son and a longtime homebrewer and certified Cicerone, or beer expert. The Nelson Saison craft beer is a Belgian-inspired, gold Saison-style ale hopped with floral, herbaceous New Zealand hops that lend a subtle white wine note to the lively ale, according to Devil’s Backbone.

The early success of the Kelsick Specialty Market growler station has been a pleasant surprise.

“I think it’s been a huge hit,” Brockman said.


The history of the growler

The growler is a modern take on a traditional method of beer distribution. The advent of the modern-day growler traces its fermented roots back to 1989, when Wilson, Wyo., micro-brewer Charlie Otto was introduced by his father to a long-forgotten container used to haul beer.

The story goes, as it’s told on Otto’s Grand Teton Brewing Co. website, Otto was telling his father it is unfortunate that his customers could enjoy his draft-only beers at bars but not take them home.

Otto’s father replied that he needed a growler, leaving his son who had never heard the term perplexed. Soon a Great Depression-era tin pail with a lid was fetched from the elder Otto’s attic. It was an example of how beer had been delivered from local taverns to thirsty workers on the job site, the “growler” term a reference to the rumbling sound the tin pails emitted as carbon dioxide escaped from beneath the lid.

Otto hit on the idea of filling 1/2-gallon cider jugs with “Teton Ale” and an old school beer delivery method soon became a modern trend that has since swept the country.

Today, growlers are a tasty, environmentally-conscious preferred method of enjoying draft craft beers from the comfort of home, the patio, or any other selected beer-drinking location. In addition to eliminating the use of cans, bottles and boxes, there’s the fresh factor.

“There truly is a difference for that fresh, bubbly beer,” Brockman said. “And it’s a treat. You can have that right in your house.”


About Kelsick Specialty Market

For 23 years, Kelsick Specialty Market on Main Street in the Gloucester village area has been Virginia’s Middle Peninsula connection to fine wines, gourmet foods, elegant gifts and wonderful meals. Kelsick Specialty Market is an independent retailer offering a wide variety of gourmet products and ingredients, kitchen accessories and prepared foods. With a large selection of fine wines from around the globe and about 200 varieties of craft beers, hard ciders and meads, Kelsick Specialty Market has something for the most discerning customers. Kelsick Specialty Market hosts a free beer tasting from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month and a free wine tasting from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on the first Friday of every month.

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