I’ve often been told that people need to hear my story. I am a humble person who isn’t used to bragging or talking about himself so I have ignored those suggestions for quite a while, but figured now’s the time. If you’re interested in how I became the owner of Missouri’s first dedicated growler filling station, grab a beer and settle in for my story.
Four years ago I was working as an Investigator for the Department of Corrections. My primary job was listening to phone calls to intercept offenders continuing to commit crimes while incarcerated. I would come home depressed and hated the thought of going back to work the next day because I also heard the intimate details of how awful these people’s lives were. I knew I had to make a change and find a job I truly loved.
I started by making a list of all my hobbies and interests. At the top of my list was craft beer. I loved going to new breweries and tasting new beer and realized that was my true passion. I expanded my knowledge of styles and flavors, became a Certified Beer Server and Associate Beer Steward and began looking for employment in the craft beer industry. When I discussed this with a friend of mine he suggested I open a growler filling station.
At the time, I didn’t know what a growler filling station was so I began a lot of research. I traveled to Memphis, Tennessee to see one firsthand (Shout out to Hammer and Ale!) and loved the concept. To be able to introduce people to beers not available in bottles or cans and give them a container to take them home was an amazing idea. In addition, I could help small breweries without canning or bottling equipment get their beer into the hands of people who would appreciate it.
Entranced with the thought of opening my own filling station, I looked into Missouri laws regarding growlers. I learned the legislature had just introduced a bill that would legalize the sale of growlers outside a brewery or special restaurant and thought it was fate. I immediately quit my job and began making plans to open Missouri’s first growler filling station. Unfortunately, the law did not get passed that year and that was my introduction to the world of politics and the legislative process.
For the next three years I refocused my efforts on getting the growler law passed. I adopted the pseudonym MidMO Beer Guy and began blogging. I also started a petition and spoke at homebrew club meetings and beer festivals. I wrote legislators and spoke in front of committees at the Capitol explaining the importance of legalizing retail growler sales. The law finally passed last year and I was grateful but, it was not written the way it should have been.
Besides containing a portion that actually hurt craft brewers, it only allowed growler sales in package liquor stores. This was awful for a traditional growler filling station where you can sit down and enjoy a flight or pint and then fill a growler of your favorite to go. I was crestfallen until some friends suggested I get creative with my design. We figured out how to have both a growler filling station and tasting room in the same space. That was the birth of CoMO Growlers & Pints. There is talk of changing the law next year to allow any bar to fill growlers. If that happens, I will remove the walls separating the filling station from the tasting room and you will be able to get a growler filled from any of our 32 taps.
To say it has been an uphill battle is an understatement, but I truly believe it was worth it! You can come to G&P and taste craft beer you never knew existed from breweries all over the country. You can sit in our tasting room enjoying a pint or flight and take a growler home. My hope is that you appreciate the effort and continue your craft beer adventure with us.
PS: I have gotten a lot of help from a fellow growler filling station owner in North Carolina. If you’re ever out that way, please stop by Tapline Growler and tell Justin hi for me!
PPS: I could not have done any of this without my wife, Stacy. Her continued support and work keeps me going and she doesn’t even like beer!