(arts) big hops (courtesy of david esquilin)

Flavorful stouts, hoppy ales and ciders are just a few brews you’ll find at Big Hops Growler Station. With so many possibilities to choose from, it might be hard to pick just one.

Big Hops Growler Station, founded by Rob and Kylie Martindale in March 2013, marks another first in San Antonio as the only bar to sell draft brews to-go in a container called a growler.

A growler is a portable jug meant for carrying beer; its design makes it capable of keeping the beer tasting fresh while being sealed in a container.

Currently, growlers are the standard for transporting beer and are in compliance with Texas law.

Big Hops features brews from distributors all over Texas including the Guadalupe Brewing Company; Blanco, Texas’ Real Ale Brewing Co.; and San Antonio’s own Branchline Brewing Company and Ranger Creek Brewery and Distillery. Big Hops also carries a few taps from breweries outside of Texas.

The growlers come in a 32 oz and a 64 oz size for $6.99 each. For those unsure of which brew to pick, the 32 oz growler will do; the smaller jug leaves room for less commitment on the chosen brew. The taps change frequently throughout the week, which allows customers to broaden their palates. Most brews range from $12-$18 per filled growler or patrons can also purchase pints of their favorite beers for $3-$4.50.

The availability of beer taps rotates each week to guarantee patrons freshness and variety. Beers that may appear one day may not necessarily be there the next, so be sure to fill up on your favorite brews when you go.

For those who enjoy darker beers, Southern Star Buried Hatchet Stout Nitro is the perfect brew to try. Nitrogen with pressurized CO2 formula is added to the mix to give the beer the same consistency of a milkshake with a thick, creamy texture.

As the contents rise to the top, the stout gives guests a show with darker hues slowly rising to the surface.

Stouts are darker beers compared to pale ales and indian pales ales, as they are generally made of chocolate malts, toffee, and in some cases, coffee beans. The overall taste is rich with a smooth aftertaste.

Another worthy brew to try is the Guadalupe Texas Honey Ale. The ale has a sweet aroma, with a hint of floral and citrus flavors. The brew glows with the color of a bright honey complexion. The ale stays true to its name with honey being the dominant flavor in the mix while leaving a crisp, refreshing aftertaste.

Big Hops, as the name suggests, also supplies beer lovers with hoppy brews such as Real Ale Brewing Co.’s 4-squared, a more potent blend of their signature Fireman’s #4 Blonde Ale.

Craft beer, which is currently close to six percent of the total market share in domestic alcoholic beverages in the U.S. according to npr.com, has skyrocketed within the past few years.

On the future of craft beer in Texas, Martindale says, “I think it’s gonna blow up. I think even in San Antonio, 2013 is a really big year with the new breweries that are opening up and the new ones that are coming.”

Martindale continues, “I think five years from now, it’s going to be a completely different story here. We’ll have a lot more microbreweries and we’ll be enjoying a lot more local craft beer.”

In the future, Big Hops will continue to have special brewery nights featuring exclusive pint glasses and brews for guests as well as collaboration dinners with special pairings of beer and gourmet meal. Their recent brewery night featured representatives from Branchline Brewing Company with a limited mason style pint glass for guests.

Big Hops Growler Station is located on 8313 Broadway, 78209 and is open Mon.-Sat. 11 a.m.-9 p.m., and Sun. 12-6 p.m.

For more information, visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/bighopsgrowlerstation.

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