Cleveland, Tenn., paving way for growlers

Cleveland, Tenn., paving way for growlers

November 8th, 2013 by Shelly Bradbury in Business Around the Region

This is the logo for Mash and Hops, which is slated to become Cleveland's first growler shop.

This is the logo for Mash and Hops,...

City codes are changing to make way for beer in Cleveland, Tenn.

The Cleveland City Council will vote Tuesday on whether to tweak the city's ordinances to allow businesses that sell beer to go also to serve samples of beer on-site, opening the door for new growler shops in the city, like one planned called Mash and Hops

Growler stores sell draft beer to go in 16-, 32-, or 64-ounce bottles that the customer takes home to drink.

The bottles are filled with draft beer and then vacuum-sealed so they don't violate any open container laws.

Many growler shops also allow customers to drink beer in the store or sample beer before buying a growler -- and that's where Rob McGowan, who hopes to open a growler store in Cleveland, ran into trouble.

Current city codes would let McGowan either sell beer to go or serve beer on-site, but not do both. He hopes to open a growler store called Mash and Hops in Cleveland this February and envisions letting customers sample the brews before filling up a bottle to take home.

After presenting his problem to the city, the council passed an amendment on first reading that will allow McGowan to serve as many as five one-ounce samples in his shop, said City Manager Janice Casteel. The new ordinance is up for final approval on Tuesday.

Three new growler shops popped up in Chattanooga this year, and owners say business is going strong. McGowan said he thinks the model can be just as successful in Cleveland.

His shop on First Street will offer between 12 and 14 draft beers as well as nonalcoholic drinks and salty snacks.

"It's surprising how many people from Cleveland drive to Chattanooga to get their growlers filled," he said. "I think there's a market here."

Contact staff writer Shelly Bradbury at 423-757-6525 or