Bewitched by beer at Growler USA
Story & photos by Niki D’Andrea
Remember singing “A Hundred Bottles of Beer on the Wall”? Those of us born before every first-grader had a digital device might recall belting out the song in the car on reeaally long drives that took for-ev-er – such as the one from Sunnyslope, where I grew up, to Big Surf in Tempe – when we were kids, long before we were legally allowed to “take one down” and “pass it around.”
Only as adults can we truly appreciate the magnitude of a hundred bottles of beer on a wall, and the impossibility of consuming them in a single sitting (at least not without the help of a football team). And only as adults can we truly appreciate a hundred kegs of beer behind the wall (it works with the same tune if you slur together a couple words).
Growler USA doesn’t have a hundred bottles of beer on the wall – because then there would be no room for all the flat-screen TVs showing various sports – but it does boast more than a hundred brews on tap. They rotate regularly and include varieties from notable national brands like California-based Belching Beaver and Stone Brewing; Fat Tire out of Fort Collins, Colorado; and Bell’s Brewery from Michigan. The national highlight on our last visit was definitely the Cali Creamin’ Vanilla Cream Ale from Mother Earth Brewing Co. (another San Diego gem) – on nitrogen tap, which renders it creamier and colder and brimming with beer voodoo, or brewdoo, if you will. It tastes just like vanilla cream soda, but with 5 percent ABV. Mmm, careful.
Arizona craft drafts also appear all over the menu at any given time, and sometimes include small-batch beers rarely found outside their mother breweries, such as Freak’N Beehive Honey Cream Ale (Freak’N Brewing Company, Peoria), Dubina Blood Orange Bell Road IPA (Dubina Brewing Company, Glendale) and Tombstone Coffee Milk Stout (Tombstone Brewing Company in Tombstone, natch).
During happy hour (3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday), patrons can save $2 off most beers, $3 off large appetizers and $1 off small appetizers. The food is quintessential pub grub, but menu favorites like Buffalo-style roasted chicken and Bavarian pretzel with Fat Tire beer cheese sauce are a cut above. Among the entrees, blackened tacos (stuffed with either chicken or spicy mahi-mahi, pico de gallo and Southern-style coleslaw) and a beer brat hoagie (served on a pretzel roll and smothered in grilled red and yellow bell peppers) satisfy.
But while the food is tasty, beer is why we’re here. And this Scottsdale link in national chain Growler USA, opened in late 2016, has more than we could ever hope for, in any style we could imagine, from sour beers to strong ales to an army of IPAs. Pass that one around.