Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Dram Shop: Missoula's Beer Bar

Now open at 229 E. Front St. The Dram Shop - Growler Fill Station features Missoula's newest lineup of craft beer taps and bottles. Owners Zach and Sarah Millar were excited to open their doors to the public on Friday, and Missoula, in turn, was excited to show up. With 32 beers on tap, plus a few extra taps for sodas and ciders, The Dram Shop is a representation of the "big city" beer bars one might find in Oregon, Washington, California, and other beer-friendly states.

The Dram Shop showcases its up-to-date tap list digitally on the wall, as well as in print. They sell and fill multiple sizes of growlers, from wide-mouth pint sizes to the traditional 64 oz. If it's on tap, it can be filled in a growler.

"The most macro beer we have on tap is probably Modelo or Rainier," says owner Zach Millar. "We've designated only one tap for the [big name] beers, and we'll probably have things like Olympia or PBR." Just don't expect things like Bud Light or anything MillerCoors.

In addition to beer, soda, and cider, The Dram Shop also offer wines by the bottle and by the glass. They also sell bottles of beer to-go or for onsite consumption. Due to licensing, customers must order the bottle they want from the display or case; one cannot just pick it up and pay for it. 

The Dram Shop has a different character than some of Missoula's other "watering holes." Its modern decor, white-tiled backdrop and stainless steel tap station fits well with today's modern craft beer drinker. Another difference is its family-friendliness. Montana's breweries have long been noted for their welcoming atmosphere for families and kids, and The Dram Shop has embraced that too. With a corner play area (and being across the street from SpectrUM Discovery Area), it won't be uncommon to find a similar crowd as one finds at Draught Works.

The Millars noted as much back in October 2014 in a Missoula Independent interview: "We have two daughters, so we want it to be a family friendly place,” Zach says. “We’re going to have a play area for kids in here, and we want the atmosphere to be laid back, like a taproom atmosphere. That’s our goal. A place where people are comfortable bringing their kids, having a snack, filling a growler and going home—or staying for longer, if they want to."

When we checked out The Dram Shop yesterday (I was hanging out with Alan from Growler Fills), Zach Millar was the first to tell us that his draft list isn't nearly as polished as he aims it to be. "Honestly, there's not one special order beer on the list. We were so focused on getting the place ready to be opened we just picked the best beers that were fresh and immediately available."

Still, their goal is to offer choices other bars in Missoula don't. (For instance, they have a Carter's beer on tap). Of course there are local beers available too, such as Great Burn's Comet IPA and Big Sky's Pygmy Owl. Interesting to note: during the shop's soft opening on Thursday night, Pygmy Owl was the "most poured" beer of the evening. 

The Dram Shop is off and running. If you're in Missoula, stop by and check it out.

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