West Little Rock’s Colonial Wine and Spirits has long been one of Central Arkansas’ best stops for potent potables not available anywhere else in the area. In recent years, Colonial has embraced the growing craft beer movement by stocking a wide variety of brews, both domestic (including a great selection of local beers) and imported. If there’s a beer available in the state, Colonial will most likely have it.
I stopped into Colonial over the weekend to pick up a few drinkables for the holiday weekend, and the first thing that caught my eye was a brand new growler fill station located at the back of the store, adjacent to their wine-tasting counter. It’s no secret that the best tasting beer in the world comes directly from the keg, which previously meant buying it by the (often pricey) glass at a bar or limiting oneself to the local growlers sold by our Arkansas breweries. Now, with a recent change to Arkansas liquor laws, any store with a retail permit to sell beer can now sell 32 and 64 ounce growlers of fresh beer straight from the keg.
I grabbed a small jug of a beer called Funky Gold Mosaic, a tasty sour produced by Prairie Artisan Ales, one America’s most talented breweries. The Colonial staff loaded my growler into a space-age filling machine, which fills the growler and removes all air to create a seal that keeps the beer fresh longer. Supposedly these growlers can last for a long time in the fridge, but I didn’t let mine sit but for a half a day. Still, the beer was fresh, fully carbonated, and quite delicious.
Now that the law allows for these fill stations, my guess is that we’ll see them popping up all over. The novelty of getting a growler filled at a liquor store will certainly bring in the crowds to begin with, but places that use these stations need to be aware that keeping a fresh supply of new beers is vital for the success of this concept. Colonial is one place where I feel like they know what it is going to take to make this niche service work, and I’m looking forward to seeing what else they put on tap.