By: Gina Webber
Top Dawg Growler has become Milledgeville’s go-to craft beer store, with 25 taps flowing specialty brews into growlers daily.
Last year, Gil’s Package Store owner Andy Patel noticed a sharp increase in craft beers sales at his store and decided to capitalize on this part of his business by opening Top Dawg Growler this past October.
“I always wanted to start something of a different nature which is why I started Top Dawg,” Patel said.
Craft beer is more flavorful than most big-name beers and is often brewed by smaller, independent breweries across the country.
After prohibition, the beer brewing industry became heavily regulated, allowing corporations to control the market. It wasn’t until 1979 that Georgia’s own President Jimmy Carter deregulated the beer industry and legalized home brewing.
Patel says craft brewers begin with home brewing, and if they’re successful, they can begin bottling and distributing their beer.
“The surge of breweries has increased tremendously over the past year. We’re looking at over 2,000 breweries in the U.S.,” Patel said.
The total number, according to Brewers Association, is 2,538 as of June 2013. That number is up from 89 in the late 70s, just before deregulation of the industry.
Top Dog purchases their beer from Georgia beer distributors who sell craft beers from across the state and country.
The beer is then delivered to Top Dawg in kegs, which preserve the beer’s body and taste better than bottles.
Kegs are kept in a large refrigerator, where tubes run from each keg to the 25 taps at the front counter.
Kegs are also available for purchase, allowing customers to bring craft beer to their events or parties.
“Top Dawg is awesome. I went in there a few weeks back and got a keg for a band party I had at my house,” senior sociology major Tori Maddox said.
Due to their wide variety, Top Dawg allows customers to sample beers before filling up their purchased growler.
Beer growlers are glass jugs that range from 32 to 64 oz. The name derives from the sound of carbon dioxide escaping the jug after its been filled.
Patel says Top Dawg Growler was chosen as the store’s name because like growlers, dogs growl.
Although bars have craft beers on tap, Patel says Top Dawg customers can now have their favorite bar beer at home.
“The whole concept was fresh craft beer to-go,” Patel said.
When customers return to Top Dawg, they exchange their previously purchased growler for a new growler that has been sanitized for reuse.
Patel says college students were the customers buying craft beers at Gil’s, and now they’re going to Top Dawg.
“College folks are very inclined to try new stuff, they’re not stuck to a particular brand,” Patel said.
Top Dawg also has discounts for college students, including Monday night discounts when students present their Bobcat Card.
“The first time I went to Top Dawg I played beer pong to get 20% off my total purchase,” said junior mass communication major Katie Jackson.
Patel hopes to host a grand opening of Top Dawg Growler in the near future, which will include live music and craft beers.
Top Dawg Growler’s beer menu can be found online at http://www.topdawggrowler.com/. The store is across from Walmart and next door to Gil’s Package Store.