Kevin Afghani believes in beer. The Dallas patent solo is combining his love of the world’s oldest fermented beverage and his law degree to revive a long-forgotten beer-distribution device: the growler.
For the uninitiated, the growler has a fabled place in beer history. Invented in the mid-1800s, a growler was originally a metal bucket, and later a large glass container, used to transport beer from a saloon to a consumer’s home. In the era before pasteurization and commercial bottling, buying beer in a growler was the only way to drink beer at home. But as time and technology advanced, the growler fell out of favor with beer drinkers.
Afghani and his wife, Cathrine Kinslow, who also is a Dallas patent solo and beer enthusiast, invested in one of Dallas’ first craft beer companies, Deep Ellum Brewing Co., which began operations two years ago. Other craft brewers followed suit, and Dallas now is home to at least seven brewing companies cranking out hundreds of barrels of specialty beers every year.
Afghani and Kinslow say they wanted to develop their own business while a beer renaissance of sorts is flourishing in their hometown.
“We just decided this is something Dallas needs,” Kinslow says.
“We were surprised how much the local beer scene is being supported in Dallas,” Afghani says of local breweries. “They’re just popping up fast. And we’re taking advantage of that.”
Thus began their soon-to-open business, Craft and Growler, where beer fans can purchase one of many Dallas-brewed beers and take it home in a growler. As Afghani points out, currently the only way to enjoy a pint of Lakewood Brewing Co.’s Rock Ryder or Peticolas Brewing Co.’s Velvet Hammer is to buy it at a bar.
“Another thing about the local brands is they don’t bottle,” Afghani says in a recent interview, during which workers were putting the finishing touches on his new, yet old-style saloon housed in a 100-year old building across from Dallas’ Fair Park.
Starting this month, beer fans can bring in their own growlers or buy one from Craft and Growler, then choose from 30 different selections along the bar’s rear wall. Afghani’s and Kinslow’s years of patent law experience has come in handy because they have applied to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for a patent for their “beverage delivery system,” which the staff will use to fill growlers with beer. Afghani wrote the patent, he says, while Kinslow reviewed it and made suggestions.
The 30 retractable beer spigots along the wall will utilize Blichmann beer guns — a tool commonly used by home beer brewers to fill bottles. The Blichmann device is a 14-inch-long tube that delivers beer into a container, along with a protective layer of CO2, which makes for better storage and a fresher-tasting brew. It’s a new concept for growler service, Afghani says.
“Air is the enemy of beer,” Afghani says, because it makes beer go flat and eventually taste stale. “But CO2 is not. The CO2 protects it. It’s almost like the air never touches it.”
A Blichmann gun never has been used in a commercial setting, Afghani says. That’s why he applied for a patent. “It doesn’t exist. I’ve never seen it used before, anywhere,” he says. “Let’s just keep our fingers crossed that this works.”
One lawyer who is embracing Afghani and Kinslow’s business is Michael Peticolas, a Dallas plaintiffs lawyer who launched Peticolas Brewing Co. a year ago. [See "Beer Wars," Texas Lawyer, Oct. 31, 2011, page 1.] Peticolas’ business is booming, he says, and last month his brewery’s Royal Scandal, a classic English pale ale, won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver.
“I think it’s a really, really perfect concept,” Peticolas says of growler service. “It’s a great way to enjoy my beer.”