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The definition of a beer growler is quite simple. It’s an airtight jug you can use for transporting beer. If you like a beer from a particular brewery so much that you want to take a large helping home with you, a growler is a perfect tool.
There are several reasons you might want to consider a growler or two for home use. If you brew your own beer, they’re a no-brainer, or you might want to bring home some of your favorite beer from a local brewery. Here, we’ll get into a bit of the background for the growler, as well as some filling information you should know.
Where Growlers Began
Nobody truly knows where the name “growler” originated. Some people claim that it had something to with a sound the beer makes when you open the jug, while others provide an entirely different explanation.
No matter where the term originated, the functionality of a growler has been evident for nearly 200 years. In the 1800s, patrons of bars would use large jugs to take some of their favorite beer home with them. This is where the use of the growler officially began.
Following prohibition, a handful of states did away with the growler because they had multiple concerns. Firstly, they didn’t like the idea of children going to pick up a large portion of beer for their parents. It also leads to some excess drinking concerns, but this didn’t last long.
Growlers are legal, but states regulate them differently. You should check with your local town and state laws before going to the brewery and asking them to fill you up.
3 Different Growlers
There are three different kinds of growlers you’ll see while you’re shopping. They all have strengths and weaknesses, so make sure you pick one that best fits your beer drinking needs.
Stainless Steel Growler
A stainless-steel growler is one of the more practical selections for transporting beer. It’s popular enough that you can find it at most retail stores and durable enough that it can handle a few drops.
If you drop the growler, you probably have to wait to open it, but it won’t smash and spill everywhere as a glass growler will. Stainless steel also provides better insulation than some of the other selections. Your growler beer will stay fresh and cold for longer with this choice.
We recommend stainless steel growlers as one of our top choices because of the versatility it affords. You can bring it with you to a friend’s house or on a camping trip without worrying about it breaking.
The only negative to a stainless-steel growler is the transparency. You can’t see how much beer is inside, which makes filling it up a guessing game. It’s also more difficult to tell when you’re almost out of beer.
Glass growlers are even more popular than stainless steel growlers. You can find them at almost any brewery, making transporting your favorite brew home as easy as possible.
The ability to see inside a glass growler is one of its main benefits. It’s easier to fill than ceramic or stainless-steel growlers, and you’ll know when it’s time to get some more beer.
The negative side of glass growlers is the reason the other forms exist. It’s somewhat fragile, and if you drop the growler, there’s a strong chance it will break.
Over time, the growler will likely chip through normal wear and tear and may become more prone to breakage. You can’t bring a glass growler as many places as you can bring a steel or ceramic growler.
Most breweries offer glass growlers in clear and tinted glass. We wouldn’t recommend buying a clear glass growler, as it will accelerate the spoiling process of any beer inside.
Ceramic growlers look the best out of the three, but they aren’t as practical as stainless steel and glass growlers. They aren’t as easy to find as the other options and provide the same downside as stainless-steel growlers when it comes to filling them.
They aren’t even as durable as stainless-steel growlers and can chip and crack like the glass option. Ceramic growlers are also usually heavier than the other two options as well, and harder to clean. You can choose a ceramic growler if you have one lying around, but it’s not the best selection if you’re buying one new.
Why Choose a Growler?
You might be wondering, “why would I need a growler?” If you’re a beer lover, there are several reasons why you might want a growler or two laying around. Here, we’ll give some of the reasons you might want to consider buying a set of growlers of your own.
Finish-Off a Keg
If you’re hosting a party or running a home bar, then you’ve doubtlessly run into the problem of a keg running low. You might not want to switch it out and waste the beer at the end of the keg, but you don’t want to keep people waiting once the current keg is finished.
If you have a couple of growlers on hand, you can use these to keep the beer at the end of your first keg. Fill these up with beer and pour your guests glasses from this stash while you’re tapping a new keg. If you have any leftover beer from a keg party, you can always store it in a growler for another time.
Bring Home Your Favorite Beer
State and town regulations will determine whether or not you can bring home beer from the brewery in a growler, but most places allow it. If you have a favorite beer from a local brewery and don’t want to buy six pack after six pack, a growler is the next best thing.
A lot of breweries will fill up your growler for you. Then, you can enjoy your favorite beer in the comfort of your own home.
Give Your Beer to Your Friends
If you’re a home brewer, then you know the work that goes into bottling your brew. Homebrewing is more popular than ever with the revival of craft beers, but not everyone has the time and resources to bottle their beers to share.
A lot of people choose to store their beer in kegs instead. If a friend comes over and loves the taste, it can be hard to send them home with a sample without a growler. If you have one or two, however, you can fill them from the keg and send them on their way.
Bring the Best Beer to an Occasion
If you’re going camping, fishing, or anywhere else where you need to bring beer, a growler is often the best method. You’ll be able to bring a unique beer that you can’t get in the store, which means it will be even more delicious when you’re at the campsite or the lake.
Growlers are potable by nature and bringing a couple of growlers with you is often easier than it is to bring bottled beer. You also don’t have to deal with as much waste if you use a growler and won’t have to clean up after yourself as much.
Filling Your Growler
Now that you’ve decided to purchase a growler, you’re probably wondering how to go about filling the thing. If you’re using it to transfer beer from the bar to your house, you don’t have to worry about this very much. The bartender or brewery staff will handle pouring the beer. If you want some pointers, we suggest bringing one down and watching them fill it.
If you’re a homebrewer, though, you’ll want to know how to fill a growler on your own. The growlers tour of your local brewery won’t be enough.
Directly from the Tap
The worst way to fill a growler (and the easiest) is to fill it directly from the tap. A lot of homebrewers use this method before they learn anything else. Unfortunately, it’s a good way to waste a lot of beer, and it usually results in a sub-par product when you’re done.
Filling it this way creates a lot of foam. The foam will either spill out of the top of the bottle and end up on the floor or sit there and settle, which will mean your growler is hardly full.
CO2 Pressure Filling
One of the best methods you can use when filling a growler is CO2 pressure filling. This one takes a few extra materials, though, and you likely can’t complete this at home. Local breweries might have the capability, but that’s about it.
This process works by stripping the oxygen out of the bottle before adding the beer. That way, you will have a bit longer before the beer gets flat and stale in the growler.
A bottom-up filling method is probably the most practical and most common way of filling beer. If you brew your beer at home, you probably already have the tools you need to complete this process.
If you’ve ever bottled your own brew, the process for filling a growler is the same. You attach an extension hose to the nozzle or the tap and let the hose sink to the bottom of the growler. Then, open the tap, and let the beer itself fill the growler from the bottom. This process limits foam and gives you the full flavor of your brew.