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New Beer Store Goes High-Tech in Greenwich Village

By Andrea Swalec | January 23, 2012 8:21am
John O'Connell and five friends and business partners started the to-go craft beer store.
John O'Connell and five friends and business partners started the to-go craft beer store.
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DNAinfo/Andrea Swalec

GREENWICH VILLAGE — The new craft beer store Growler Station on West Eighth Street features two-dozen beers on tap and more than 200 varieties in bottles — but drinkers shouldn't feel overhwlemed by the vast selection.

While the brand-new store employs a staff knowledgable about beer, an electronic guide is also available for the more technologically inclined.

Like a foamier version of the travel-booking website Kayak, Growler Station's Beer Wizard app lets customers peruse the world of brews with adjustable variables including brand, style, hop bitterness, color and alcohol content, said co-owner Tony Lane, who helped develop the app.

In addition to the app, an electronic menu display in the store and its website are all automatically updated when the shop's internal inventory system changes, telling beer aficionados exactly what's available and when. 

Growler Station is located at 26 W. Eighth St., between Fifth and Sixth avenues.
Growler Station is located at 26 W. Eighth St., between Fifth and Sixth avenues.
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DNAinfo/Andrea Swalec

Beer Wizard will be available for Apple products in early March, initially for free but costing 99 cents a few months after its release — making the brew-heavy destination's appeal dangerous for some Village regulars.

"It's possible that I may become homeless now that this place is open," said new customer Andrew Rohlin, 24, of Jersey City, "because I'll spend so much money here." 

Growler Station, which opened last Friday afternoon, sells suds to go and accompanying snacks to let patrons enjoy the highest quality beer at their convenience, co-owner John O'Connell said during a tour of the store. 

"You get the enjoyment of your favorite draft beer, right at home," the 47-year-old said.  

At the new store, O'Connell and his staff fasten bottles to imported Russian taps, depress the tap handles and wait just one minute for the magic to happen.

The taps flow beer down the sides of the glass jugs, known as growlers, introducing carbon dioxide and removing the oxygen that causes beer to go flat, O'Connell explained. 

"Oxygen is a killer of beer," he said. "We believe that with this technology, we can revolutionize the way beer is delivered to customers." 

The specialty taps, which the store's owners read about online and believe are some of the only ones of their kind in the country, pour four European and 20 American beers now, but the selection will constantly rotate.

While the six men behind Growler Station take their beer seriously, there's plenty of room for laughs. They will soon introduce their own line of packaged nuts called G.S. Nutsack, O'Connell said. 

"It's definitely a conversation piece," he laughed. 

The shop's extensive snack department includes exotic-flavored potato chips, cheeses and pickles. 

"We wanted to create a food offering that will complement beer,"  O'Connell said. "You can show up here and get a party in a bag," 

While West Eighth Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues is lined with empty storefronts, O'Connell said he saw the vacancies as an indicator of possibility — not decline. 

"This is a great up-and-coming street," he said. "There's space for so many new businesses to come here." 

Growler Station, at 26 W. Eighth St., is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday from 12 noon to 7 p.m. Prices range from $11.99 to $47.99 for a 64 oz. "Growler" and $12.99 to $51.99 for a 2-liter plastic "Beast."