You would never think that nestled in the old, historic Loray Mill, or Firestone Mill, that you’d find a place many would consider a craft beer haven. Being new to the area, (I recently moved here from NY) I was rather unfamiliar with what sort of eateries existed in the city of Gastonia, NC. My wife and were invited to Growler USA, a microbrew restaurant that recently opened in the historic Loray Mill. Now before I get in to detail about their food and plethora of craft brews, its best you learn a little bit about the history of its current residence.
Loray Mill was built in 1902 by John Love and George Gray, who contracted their names to Loray. The mill, said to be the largest textile mill in the South, went on to become a part of history. In 1929 the textile Workers Union led a strike the mill town surrounding the location fell under siege by protesters resulting in the death of Gastonia Police Chief Orville Aderholt and worker’s rights champion Ella May Wiggins. Due to the great depression, the mill went into bankruptcy, and was later bought by Firestone.
In 1993, Firestone closed its doors and the Mill remained abandoned. Today, Loray Mill is a growing community of apartments and businesses where life is being brought back to the once desolate structure. For generations Loray Mill has represented many things: to some a legacy of pride, for others a hope for the future.
So why not put a microbrew in it?! If Growler USA doesn’t breath life back in to this mill, than I’m not sure what would. It’s just what the location needed. Those familiar with the area know that within 30 minutes driving, there is an abundance of breweries. Let’s face it, the beer scene doesn’t lack here. Growler USA is the perfect location for locals when they need a brew…or 100! This microbrew is anything but “micro” with its 100 beers on tap, supporting many of your favorite local breweries. The taps are rotating, so there will always be new choices to look forward to. But really? There’s already 100 on tap! Given those options, they also offer smaller glasses and flights for your tasting pleasure. Instead of getting one big pint, you can get up to six, five-ounce glasses in a flight.
The beer menu is well organized for those who have certain kinds in particular. If you are an IPA drinker (like me) there is an IPA section, if you are feeling like a saison, mead, stout, or lager? Yup! There’s plenty to choose from.
And what doesn’t go perfect with a beer like some beer brat slider served with Pilsner sauerkraut and beer mustard as an appetizer. This was my wife’s appetizer, but it’s not like I wasn’t going to steal one of the sliders! I’m a huge fan of this and with certainty, will be ordering again. I also ordered the Hummus Among Us. A Jalapeño and cilantro hummus with just a smidgen of heat. Served with Kalamata olives, seasonal vegetables and warm naan bread. If you want to go the low-cal route, this is the way to do. Like it says, it has a little kick, but a lot of flavor! The serving is great for a table of 2-4 people, or a great meal substitute for one. I give them an A for presentation. This is a popular item hence the reason I chose it, but I can see why. It’s healthy and delicious so you don’t have to feel so bad throwing back the beers.
For my main, I got the Brewben (play on words for a Ruben), lean shaved corned beef, Pilsner sauerkraut, aged Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing served on a toasted, thick-cut marble rye. I’m from NY! I had to. Well needless to say, any New Yorker would be pleased with this sandwich. It was a pretty big sandwich, might I add.
My wife Arlene ordered the pilsner chicken avocado club. It’s a huge sandwich that has two succulent Pilsner chicken breasts, thick-cut bacon, fresh avocado, lettuce, tomato and garlic aioli on toasted sourdough bread. All you need to do is look at the picture and your mouth will water.
Several things to note about Growler USA is that obviously they live up to their name “Growler” as you can buy or refill growlers here. Just looking for some fresh tapped brew to take home? This is the place to go. Another thing is their location. Loray Mill is big and its businesses are new so you will not see to many signs. Growler USA is located around the back of the mill, or through the front main entrance so don’t be discouraged if you don’t see their doors right away. If you choose to drive around back, (as you pull off of Franklin go to the left side of the building), there’s the option of valet. So this place in literately a hidden gem.
Bottom line, if you are looking for some good brews, a place to hang out, or a place to grab a quick bite, this place needs to be on your list. Service is great, atmosphere is awesome and if you are lucky you may just be able to catch a live band!
300 S Firestone St., Ste 150
Gastonia, NC 28052