The Growlerie to provide craft beer, ciders to take home

by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Business partners Derrell Ness and Jenny and Jamie Agidius will be opening their business, The Growlerie, at Progress Ridge TownSquare this Friday.Spring break and beer tend to go hand in hand.

Rarely, however, does the combination lead to anything resembling productivity, much less a business plan or a new career path. Yet, that’s what two Lake Oswego couples came up with while decompressing with their children back in March at Cannon Beach.

“We shared the idea over a spring break weekend together, at Jamie’s home on the beach,” says Derrell Ness, referring to longtime friend, Jamie Agidius, one of four partners in The Growlerie. “We shared this crazy idea, and it’s been pretty much a straight line from that conversation to where we are at this location.”

The Growlerie, scheduled to open on Friday at 11 a.m. at 15151 S.W. Barrows Road in Progress Ridge, is a fermented beverage emporium where 40 taps dispense a wide array of Northwestern microbrews, wine, cider and kombucha, a lightly fermented Chinese tea.

As at any pub, customers can plop down at the long bar or a table — including back-patio seating during warm weather — to try 4-ounce samples or pints of beverages. Unlike other watering holes, they can take home a batch of freshly-poured draft in a 64-ounce jug or “growler,” which costs $5 but can be refilled indefinitely at the business.

Thirty-two of the taps — linked to a 1,500-gallon-capacity cooler — will feature mircrobrews, ciders and wine, with eight dedicated to kombucha. Most growlers, which contain the equivalent of four pints, will cost $12 to fill and take home. A wooden carrying case that holds two growlers is available for purchase.

To keep predictability at bay, the brands and styles will be constantly updated.

“We’ll be rotating,” Ness says. “Every week there will be something new. It may be something old and familiar, or a new favorite beer we just found.”

The Growlerie will offer a menu with classic appetizer items such as a hummus platter, meats and cheeses, antipasto and suds-complementing snacks like nuts and chips and salsa.

“It will be a European-style menu,” says Jenny Agidius, Jamie’s wife and another Growlerie partner. “As we progress, the menu will shift.”

Four flat-screen TVs mounted on either end of the formidable row of taps will digitally monitor the levels of each keg in the cooler, providing an instant guide to customers as well as staff to what’s most popular and what’s ready to be switched out with another flavor. For those who want to check out a Beavers or Ducks game, a regular TV will be available in the back of the long, window-dominated gathering place.

Ness owns Beaverton-based Ready Distribution, a speciality hardware wholesaler, and worked on the point-of-sale and information technology ends of the business world.

“This is my first time on this side of the bar,” he says, crediting Jared Abel, Jamie and Jenny Agidius’ nephew, with sharing the business concept he picked up from Growler Guys in Bend. “What attracted us is being part of a new trend. It allows us to offer great Oregon beers that, until now, you had to drive into (Portland) to a tap room in order to get.

“We’re the first on the Westside.”

After scouting around for locations, Progress Ridge attracted the partners for its variety of businesses and the demographics of residents surrounding the complex.

“Once we walked into Progress Ridge, we pretty much knew where we wanted to be,” Ness says. “We felt there was a younger demographic, a lot of young families who could afford the luxury. The ability to bring it home and not have to go out (for the evening) is a real attraction.”

Despite the absence of mass-produced domestic lagers such as Coors or Bud Light at The Growlerie, its owners — rounded out by Derrell’s wife, Sharon — want to offer something for everyone, even if it’s initially unfamiliar.

“Our mission is an educational one,” says Jamie Agidius, 52. “We’re not just looking for the committed craft-beer drinker, but also the craft-beer curious.”

Molly Cermak, The Gowlerie’s manager, agrees that accessibility to the average customer is a key to expanding microbrew and kombucha palates.

“The great thing about all the local craft beer is there are light and sessionable (styles) that are actually good beers — light, easy-drinking beers,” says Cermak, a Beaverton resident. “It’s like, ‘Try this. Oh, you don’t like that? Try this.’ The educational part can be really fun when you have a rotation of beers. You can really broaden your horizons.”

While there’s an element of chaos with four partners trying to launch a new business, Jenny Agidius says each one brings a different skill set and level of experience to the fledgling operation.

“We really needed each other in all the different aspects,” she says. “It’s a great balance.”

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