Montgomery Co. beer lovers can go big

WASHINGTON – Beer enthusiasts can now take home 64 ounces of their favorite craft brew in Montgomery County. Since July 1, stores can apply for a growler license – and some of the credit goes to the owners of one local store.

Charleen and Tom Merkel own the Bradley Food and Beverage in Bethesda, and over the past year and a half, they worked with the Montgomery County Council and state Sen. Brian Frosh to allow stores to sell growlers.

On Monday, Bradley Food and Beverage became the first store in Montgomery County to offer the refillable glass jars. “Craft beer is the new wine. It has been exploding for the last couple of years and it’s a very exciting thing to be involved with. We’re having fun with it,” says Tom Merkel.

They’ve sold about 30 in the first week and expect sales to grow. “This is so exciting,” Charleen Merkel says. “I’m bursting. We’ve been waiting for so long for this. Retail has been soft, as everyone knows, so we’re just hoping this will propel us to the next level,” Charleen says.

Customers can fill the big bottles with craft beer from national and local breweries, including Breckenridge Brewery, Dogfish Head Brewery, Flying Dog Brewery and soon, DC Brau Brewing Company. But Charleen says they have even bigger plans for beer fans: “a beer club, a growler club, and discounts for ‘frequent flyers’ so to speak.”

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