A trend in beer over the past few years has been the re-introduction of a particular type of beer bottle: the growler. A growler is a slang term for a large glass bottle of beer, usually holding 64 fluid ounces (a half gallon for all you imperial unit fans). This is a step up in size from a bomber (22 oz of beer) and has a key component which makes it my favorite distribution method: it is reusable (better than recyclable). You can stroll down to your favorite beer distributor, purchase your glassware, and have them fill it up with any beer they have on tap. When you finish, just rinse it out and you can go fill it up again thanks to a screw-top with a small rubber gasket to keep a tight seal.
A few breweries are now selling their beer in a pre-filled growler to get you started. I picked up a Rogue: Dead Guy Ale growler at Whole Foods for $17 which included the glass (normally $7 or so) which means the beer was only $10 for 64 oz.
Pricing is usually around the price of a 6 pack (maybe a little more) but there are a few advantages.
- The beer is fresh. Assuming that the location at which you had your growler filled up is visited frequently, the beer will be in a fresh keg as opposed to bottles that have been sitting around for awhile. Fresh beer = tasty beer (usually).
- You can get a lot more rare and seasonal releases from draught beer as opposed to bottled beer.
- Draught beer just tastes better. It is this reason that I never buy a bottle of beer when out at a bar. For a possible explanation see reason #1. Also possible explanation: that sense of smugness you get by saying, “I only drink draught beer. I also know that it’s spelled ‘draught’ and not ‘draft'”
- You get about five and a third bottles of beer in 64 oz, but if you get a good person filling you up, they normally go past the fill line netting you around a 6 pack. Price wise you about break even, but are getting a better product (see above)
- Sharing a growler is fun!
- You can rinse and repeat forever.
A few disadvantages to buying a growler:
- You need to drink the beer within 1 to 2 days for optimal deliciousness. Draught beer goes flat once out of the keg, even if kept in a sealed bottle.
- Not every store will fill one for you. They need to have taps which can be hard to get in a take-away beer/wine shop due to zoning and your local ABC ordinances.
I’ve been happy with the few times I’ve had the chance to fill it up, but am looking forward to having the opportunity to try new beer in the comfort of my own home. Cheers.