A Guide to Beer Growlers

Posted on April 1st, 2010

Growlers are a great way to bring the taste of fresh draft beer home with you. These half-gallon glass containers which are filled at a bar or brewpub have surged in popularity among craft drinkers in recent years.

Growlers first emerged in the late 19th century. They were an easy way of transporting the day’s ration of beer back home from the local pub for use by the whole family. Back before modern sanitation practices beer, not water, was what the average person drank for refreshment and hydration. Water, especially in urban areas, was far too dirty and contaminated for healthy consumption, so beer was what the common folk drank. Since the six pack was still many decades away and most local breweries didn’t have the facilities to bottle beer, a large, reusable container was the way to go.

It was usually children who would fetch the family’s daily supply of beer, Referred to as “rushing the growler”. The idea of having children making daily visits to seedy barrooms was a source of much concern for those in the prohibition movement and was a key factor in the eventual passing of the 18th amendment banning alcohol in the US. The sloshing and gargling the beer would make as it was carried haphazardly by the little ones is what gave the growler its name.

Today growlers serve a very different purpose. Rather than being the daily source of hydration for families, they are more commonly used by savvy beer lovers who are looking for a way to take their favorite draft-only brew home. It can also be a convenient way of taking beer on the go. Thanks to the resealable caps almost all growlers come with, you can have some now, and then save it for later. Once opened it should probably be consumed in two or three days, otherwise you run the risk of the beer going flat. Because growlers are reusable- they can be refilled time and time again – they are also one of the most environmentally beer containers around.

There are a lot of reasons to give growlers a try. What do you think of these handy containers? Are they available in your area? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter.

  • gees

    As they are resealable, how are growlers handled in regards to open container laws?

  • Here in Brooklyn we have several beer specialty shops that fill up growlers as well. It's wonderful.

    I hadn't thought about it before, but Gees brings up a good question about open container laws. Any thoughts?

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  • Miguel

    I get growlers all the time. I have a collection of them from different microbreweries. I take my growler and my own fizz giz growler caps in, request the bartender cap on foam using my fizz giz caps. Then I hit it with a shot of co2 using the fizz giz co2 dispenser to replace some of the co2 lost while tapping. I get all the shelf-life I want out-a-them. Growlers generally don’t last long at my place.

  • I must like using Growlers when I’m buying craft beers and take it home to enjoy with family and friends. These containers are really helpful. Not only with drinkers but also with our environment because it lessen the use of smaller containers.

  • riff raff

    Old thread, but I see no one responded to the open container law question. At least around here in the Midwest, the growler is sealed with a clear shrink seal around the cap and neck. Similarly, partial bottles of wine from a restaurant are placed in a special bag and sealed by the restaurant.