Nestled in a small strip of buildings along the service road of Highway121 across from The Grandscape, The Thirsty Growler
, or “Thirsty” as many of its patrons lovingly refer to it, may be entering its seventh year, but it's still one of the best-kept secrets of the area.
Owners Mike and Andrea Gillum officially opened the doors of The Thirsty Growler in 2016 after Mike was laid off from his IT job the previous year. Not many people look at a lost job as an opportunity, but Mike is glad he got let go.
Mike Gillum and his wife, Andrea, opened Thirsty Growler after Mike was laid off from his IT job.
“Jobs weren’t really coming along, and Andrea got tired of me sitting on my butt doing nothing," he said. "We toyed with the idea of opening a taproom after seeing them all over the Northwest, but all of a sudden I had lots of time and needed something to do. Thank goodness for an annoyed wife.”
Their initial vision was based on growler shops they had visited in Portland. But over the years Mike saw that people were less interested in just grabbing a refill to go.
"They're more interested in a laid-back tap room where they can hang out, try something new and then take some with them if they really love it. We really strive to provide the best that the metroplex and beyond have to offer on tap," Mike says.
Opening a craft beer taproom while also being fans of beer themselves has also allowed them to see what kind of direction the industry is going.
“Over the last year or so, maybe even since the pandemic, people have started to lean more towards crisp, clean lagers and lighter beers while not losing out on the alcohol content," Mike says. "IPAs and hazies aren’t going anywhere, but the general consensus is that people want a clean, crushable beer, which is reflected in what we offer.”
That’s good news for your New Year's resolution to drop a few pounds while not feeling the guilt over having a brew with friends.
The beauty of a place like the Thirsty Growler is that you don’t have to be an expert, and Mike made it clear that everyone is welcome.
“It’s not a place for pretentious beer drinkers,” he said. “We love helping people on their craft beer adventure, and it’s really easy to spot when someone new walks in. They have this overwhelmed look in their eye when they look up and see 50 different taps, but it’s fun to show them that there is more to craft beer than the IPA elitists. Every craft drinker starts somewhere, and we’re happy to help those that don’t know the difference between Budweiser and Bud Light.”
While there are plenty of local standard hits, such as Peticolas, Celestial, Lakewood and Martin House, there are also beers from all over the country and from Europe. With 8-ounce to 64-ounce pours, it's easy to taste several options.
Looking back, Mike and Andrea realized that the Thirsty Growler hasn’t been what they expected when they started out — it’s been so much more. An opportunity born out of necessity and a persistent wife has built a place where the casual beer drinkers and lovers of all things craft can raise a glass together.
The Thirsty Growler, 5733 State Highway 121, No. 230, The Colony.