Growlers: What They Are and Why You Should Have One

Two years ago I asked both of my housemates if they wanted to get a growler for the apartment, since Beer Works just a block down from us had a few in-store taps. They both did not know what I was talking about.

I don’t know where growlers stand today in the American lexicon, but just in case you also are not quite fully aware of what they are, I’ll get that out of the way first.

1. a person or thing that growls
2. a small iceberg that rises little above the water

Thanks Google. Additionally, based on the Ngram Viewer, “growler” was far more popular in the 1800s than it has been in the last century, because it also used to refer to a “four-wheeled hansom cab”. Given that the Ngram Viewer is a physical text publication tracker/counter, plus (and minus) the amount of shared information on the web, via social media platforms, video, and other communications not physically written in a published book – perhaps it’s not the most telling metric. But this is really neither here nor there.

What I am referring to here is something that is alcohol related, of course. It’s basically a traditional beer bottle-colored Carlo Rossi jug that you get from a brewery or alcohol store and fill it up from the tap(s) there. It traps carbonation for up to 36 hours once opened, or for a few days unopened and stored in the fridge.


Why you should have a beer growler (and use it): 

  1. Supporting Local Beer and Local Producers.
    If you find Coors Light that some bar lets you growler, please tell the bar owner that s/he is doing it wrong and ask if s/he can please excuse hirself from the planet. Otherwise, you’re really only going to find the Good Stuff (read: local. It’s always “good” for the planet, but not always “good” in your mouth.As with everything, some of “local” is garbage too. You, for instance, are a local producer of garbage yourself. I won’t specify what I mean by that. Anyway, point being, ask for a sample first). Someone that lives and/or works quite close to you tried really hard to make that, probably caring a fuckton too, and it’s the work of hir brain and body. I think that deserves some support and cred.
  2. Environmental Impact.
    It saves a heck of a lot of resources on packaging and shipping, and shipping that packaging. Similar to box wine, you’re taking a lot of the small-format or individually-packaged nonsense out of the alcohol-drinking equation. One standard growler holds about 64 ounces, or the equivalent of a six-pack of bottles. That saves a substantial amount of glass, plastic, paper, and/or aluminum, and the fuel necessary to make those and ship them all (and that gets heavy quickly, especially those darned glass bottles.) It might not be the most elegant, but something I loved about Korea was the packaging of beer; more often than not, I could buy beer in a plastic 2L bottle reminiscent of soda packaging here in the states. If you’re going to be putting down that much beer at a time anyway, might as well not hurt the planet as much as you are your own body. Packaging is just a…a construct. #wesleyan
  3. Better beer.
    This goes back to Point Number One. Even if you haven’t and never will hop on the Humulus lupulus train, you can most certainly get light witbier, lagers, pils, ambers, and the like just as easily from craft brewers these days. Neither “craft” nor “local” are not synonymous with “IPA”. Theres’s nothing wrong with an IPA, of course; there are just a lot more available these days to be aware of (and to cater to us all).

To be forthright, in terms of the science-side logistics of going the growler route, it’s not the absolute best beer experience for brewers,”ito” (in their opinion). Oxygen is introduced in the process, and trusting a normal person with the growler after that (AKA improper storing and cleaning) can put the quality down the tubes. Some spots have advanced bottling machines for optimal CO2 capture, and others like it because they can put that really small batch that they won’t be bottling in front of customers; meaning, you can also get some pretty cool never-packaged stuff here. So, pros and cons. Give and take. Environment and Natty Ice. You get it.


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