Retail growler fills begin in Arkansas

A new growler fill station was recently unveiled at the Road Runner convenience store near downtown Fayetteville.

Todd Gill, Flyer staff

Arkansas residents have a new option for purchasing fresh beer straight from the keg, and local brewers have a new way to compete.

Thanks to a change in the state’s liquor policy, any store with a retail beer permit can request an endorsement to begin selling reusable 32- and 64-ounce “growlers” full of tap-fresh beer.

Growlers have been around for years in Arkansas, but until now, they could only be filled on-site at a local microbrewery.

The new rule, which went into effect July 1, is designed to help Arkansas craft brewers expand and compete by providing more outlets for the sale of their beer.

Instead of relying only on keg sales at restaurants and bars, small breweries now have another way to increase distribution without investing in expensive canning or bottling lines.

Stores are also allowed to sell beer produced out-of-state, which could give craft brew fans even more options for tasting hard-to-find beers if retailers order kegs of small-batch brews that are only available in limited supplies.

The Growler Station at Road Runner in Fayetteville includes a Beer Wizard kiosk with information about the beers on tap, including style, hop bitterness, alcohol content and suggested food pairings.

Todd Gill

Of course, local brands or upstart brewers could also put a couple of kegs out in stores to test interest in new products.

Retail growler fills began in Northwest Arkansas this week inside the Road Runner gas station and convenience store at College Avenue and Lafayette Street near downtown Fayetteville.

Road Runner is using an in-store set-up from The Growler Station, a California-based company with nearly 40 craft beer-filling stations in 13 states across the country.

Road Runner’s eight taps offer fresh beer from local, regional and national brands, including an oatmeal stout from Springdale-based Core Brewing and Distilling Co. and a summer seasonal brew from Samuel Adams.

Prices for a 32-ounce growler (two pints) start at $4.99 for a Tow Head American Blonde from Mother’s Brewing Company to $6.99 for a Dry Hopped American Pale Ale from Schlafly Beer — a couple bucks cheaper than most nearby bars.

Another local retailer to grab a growler endorsement is Walton Blvd. Wine and Spirits in Bentonville. A manager said Tuesday while the store hasn’t yet installed the equipment needed to offer growler fills, the plan is to eventually order a variety of beers, including specialty kegs from breweries like Prairie Artisan Ales, a Tulsa-based company that has become one of the nation’s most buzzed-about brands.

Michael Langley, the director of the state’s Alcohol Beverage Control Division, said 15 retailers had received growler endorsements as of Tuesday morning.

Here’s the full list:

Walton Blvd. Wine and Spirits, LLC – 406 Razorback Drive, Bentonville
Ozark Mountain Taproom – 140 E. Van Buren, Eureka Springs
Petro Plus, LLC – 357 N. College Ave, Fayetteville
Petro Plus, LLC – 6320 Rogers Ave, Fort Smith
Mapco Express, Inc. – 4139 Central Ave, Hot Springs
Roadrunner 123 – 3039 Albert Pike Road, Hot Springs
Colonial Wine – 11200 West Markham Street, Little Rock
Mapco Express, Inc. – 8101 Stagecoach Road, Little Rock
Petro Plus, LLC – 11401 Cantrell Road, Little Rock
Petro Plus, LLC – 1200 S. Shackleford Road, Little Rock
Mapco Express, Inc. #7519 – 3300 Springhill Drive, North Little Rock
Springhill Wine & Spirits – 4281 East McCain Blvd., North Little Rock
Brick Street Brews – 208 W. Walnut Street, Rogers
107 Liquor – 250 W. Kiehl Ave, Sherwood
Roadrunner – 5720 Loop 245, Texarkana