While Redmond has long been known as a technology hub, recent years have proved that the city is also becoming known as a hub for craft beer.
Sammamish residents Ann Humes and her husband Greg Humes are tapping into this with their new pub, Growler USA.
Located at 8300 160th Ave. N.E. in downtown Redmond, Growler features more than 100 taps, primarily of craft beer. Greg said they have 80 taps dedicated to beer, with about 70 percent from Washington, including the local breweries.
“We have all of Redmond represented,” he said.
The pub also has wine, cider and mead, as well as kombucha on tap. Growler also offers cold-pressed coffee.
Like most breweries, Growler offers flights so customers can sample different beers to find what they like. But unlike most breweries, instead of just offering flights with different types of beer, Growler also offers flights featuring just one type of beer (such as IPAs or dark beers) but different styles. Greg said they want customers to go on an adventure when they enter their pub and find a beer they like — that way, when they are out and about, they might think about visiting that brewery itself.
He said they want to introduce people to the craft beer culture so if customers have questions about the beer, all of the servers at Growler are Cicerone-certified beer servers — the beer equivalent of a wine sommelier. Greg said this means they know the differences among the different styles of beer and their origins, how to properly pour, the types of glassware to use and more.
In addition to its taps, Growler is a restaruant with a full-service kitchen and full menu. And despite the focus on beers, it is family friendly and open to all ages.
“That was important,” Ann said.
The idea to open the pub came after Ann was laid off from her job at Microsoft Corp. She said the tech giant connected them with a job-placement agency, which offered to help people get back into the corporate world or help them become entrepreneurs. Ann went with the latter as she found the energy on the entrepreneurial side exciting.
Ann worked with a franchise coach who helped her as she looked at about eight different franchises, ranging from eyelash extensions and cell-phone repairs to yoga and smoothies. She said she decided to go with Growler because she had a strong need to build community, which she felt she could do with this franchise. In addition, prior to entering the tech world, Ann had a background in hospitality, having earned her degree in hotel management from Virginia Tech. Greg’s background is in art and he said he loves the craftsmanship that goes into beer, adding that there is an art and science that goes into brewing beer that may even go beyond wine.
The couple chose to open their new business in Redmond because they thought it was the right market for the concept of integrating within a neighborhood’s community. While there is increasing foot traffic as downtown develops into an urban center, Ann said there is still that neighborhood culture. They concentrated their search to downtown Redmond and found two locations before spotting the area below the Milehouse Apartments.
Ann said when they came across the location in June 2015, the building was still under construction.
Greg said the landlord was very enthusiastic with adding Growler to the building.
Growler had its soft opening at the beginning of August. Ann and Greg said they had their official grand-opening event on Aug. 25.
Since opening, they said things have been going well but they have made a few operational tweaks and adjustments. They have also had a hard time letting people know that they are open for lunch, Greg said.
Ann added that the reception they have received from customers has been great and they are starting to see repeat customers and even regulars. She added that their staff’s enthusiasm and dedication has been great, as well.