What Is a Beer Growler? Plus Our Top Pick!

Want to know what a beer growler is? Learn why they're so popular among beer aficionados the world around and how they may actually make beer taste better!


Mat Stuckey

8/29/20234 min read

A beer growler in a field
A beer growler in a field

What Is a Beer Growler? Plus Our Top Pick!

While once a niche vessel only the geekiest of beer aficionados would tote around, the beer growler has broken into the mainstream as craft brewing continues to boom. If you find yourself puzzling over these odd jugs at your local pub, read on to learn all about this container's origins and function in the era of modern beer enthusiasm.

A Brief History of the Beer Growler

References to "growlers" first emerged in the 1800s, referring to gallon-sized pails that beer lovers - often children - would fill and take home from the local pub. The name likely arose from the rumbling, sloshy sounds these pails would make when lugged back over dirt roads.

In the early days, folks who fancied a draught beer would send the young ones out with an empty pail to fetch it fresh from the pub taps. A lid helped secure the brew for the bumpy journey. That's how we arrived at the growlers still seen today.

While hygiene was likely dubious back then, growlers offered a convenient way to enjoy draught beer from taverns in your own home. This tradition faded as bottling dominated distribution, but is now resurging as more breweries are keg-only operations.

Beyond takeaway purposes, grand-scale and microbreweries once used growlers to share samples, transport yeast for brewing, or give out as gifts. The 64-ounce jug size arose as a standard quantity brewers would distribute.

Today, growlers endure as an economical, eco-friendly way for craft beer lovers to get fresh brew straight from the source - your local microbrewery or taproom.

What is a Beer Growler?

In essence, a beer growler is simply a container used to transport draught beer from breweries to enjoy at home. They commonly hold 64 fluid ounces, which equals a half gallon. This makes growlers equal to a six pack in terms of servings.

Standard features include:

  • Thick glass or ceramic jug construction to keep beer cold and protect from light

  • Screw-on lid with a pressure seal to carbonate and contain the brew

  • Swing-top flip lid for easy handling

  • Handle for carrying convenience

While most resemble a traditional glass jug form, growlers today also come in stainless steel bottles, ceramic jugs with band closure, and plastic bottles. Some use screw caps rather than flip lids. Any large, sealable portable vessel works in theory!

What Beverages are Suitable to Fill Growlers?

Growlers function ideally for:

  • Fresh draught beer straight from brewery taps - IPAs, sours, stouts, cask ales, lagers

  • Carbonated cocktails - Mojitos, palomas, margaritas

  • Cold brew coffee concentrates

  • Fresh-pressed juices - Lemon, orange juice, etc.

  • Homebrew beers and kombucha

  • Milk or plant-based milks

  • Wine and mixed wine beverages

In general, growlers work well for beverages that taste best fresh, fully carbonated, and cold. The vessels insulate temperature while the sealed lids contain pressure from carbonation.

Why Take Beer in a Growler? Benefits Explained

Transporting beer from pubs in growlers offers multiple advantages:

Freshness - Unlike bottled brews, growlers are filled straight from draught taps, ensuring you get beer at peak freshness. The taste is noticeably brighter.

Cost savings - Growler fills are usually much more affordable ounce-for-ounce than packaged beers, with savings up to 50% per pint. Bringing your own growler means paying only for the beer itself.

Environmentally friendly - Reusing growlers eliminates packaging waste from bottles and cans. It's an incredibly green way to take beer to go.

Support local - Filling growlers directly funds your local craft beer, microbrewery or brewpub operation. You can sample speciality beers that aren't bottled for distribution.

Customisation - Fill growlers with exactly the beers you want. Create your own custom six pack by mixing brews.

Storage and transport - Once empty, growlers nest efficiently and pack well for storage. They're lighter than bottles to carry.

For beer aficionados, the ability to get fresh local pints at a bargain rate is reason enough to stay stocked with growlers!

Proper Growler Care and Usage Tips

While seemingly simple containers, using growlers properly ensures great results:

  • Wash thoroughly before first use - New growlers often have manufacturing oils or debris that must be cleaned first. Use brewery sanitiser, homebrew sanitiser, or baking soda.

  • Only fill what you'll consume in 2-3 days - Growlers preserve freshness for a few days, but beer deteriorates quickly after. Cap sizes under 64 oz. for small servings.

  • Fill growlers entirely full - This purges oxygen and creates sufficient pressure from CO2 to carbonate and seal the brew.

  • Replace old gaskets/o-rings to ensure a tight seal - Check for leaks occasionally by holding growlers upside down. A few drops are acceptable but large drips signal worn gaskets.

  • Store cold - Refrigerate growlers to keep the brew cold, carbonated and fresh for maximum head life and flavour retention.

  • Consume promptly - For peak enjoyment and flavour, start drinking growlers within 4-6 hours of filling and finish within 2-3 days. The taste declines rapidly as gases dissipate.

With proper handling, brewery growler fills provide an economical way to savour draught beers at home while supporting your local brewing community. Just mind the tips above, and don't stash growlers away for months!

Key Takeaways About Beer Growlers

  • Growlers are sealable containers used to transport fresh draught beer from breweries or beer taps. They commonly hold 64 fluid ounces.

  • Any large jug, bottle or ceramic container can serve as a makeshift growler. Key features are solid construction to contain pressure, and a sealing lid to retain carbonation.

  • Growlers keep beer fresher, save money, and provide an eco-friendly alternative to packaged beers. They offer the means to enjoy pints from your local brewpub at home.

  • Focus on small growler sizes you'll finish within 2-3 days. Chill, keep sealed, and fill entirely full for best results. Timely consumption is key to great growler beer!

While growlers require a touch more planning than buying beer any time from the market, the reward of tasting brews at their peak freshness directly from the source is worth the minimal added effort. Keep several clean growlers on hand, and you'll never miss a chance to sample limited specialty beers again!

Our favourite growler is the one green bottle stainless steel 64oz.

It's leakproof, classy looking and triple walled to keep that brew fresh.

You can get it on Amazon Prime. It's a solid bit of kit.

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