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The rise of the Growler
January 27, 2010 9:15 AM   Subscribe

As craft beer brewers and brewpubs in the US grow in popularity among the population of discerning beer consumers, a new (to the US, anyway) container has emerged for the take-home beer buyer. Growlers, reusable half-gallon glass jugs, have become popular recently for the take-home crowd.

Perhaps the perception of the American Beer Drinker will soon evolve in the eyes of people from long-time beer cultures in Europe and elsewhere?

This time, the New York Times Style section is maybe not so far behind a trend as they often are.
posted by dammitjim (115 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
I first noticed Growlers in Vermont while on a whirlwind tour of Vermont Breweries in 2006 - a whirlwind that I heartily recommend to anyone, by the way.

There are so many great little microbreweries and brewpubs in the region, serving fantastic food and great beer. Beer of extreme variety.

A theory that I heard from locals in Stowe, VT about the proliferation of restauranteurs, chefs, and the beer-obsessed and centered around graduates of the Culinary Institute of America in upstate New York who (notably, to these locals) weren't leaving the area as often, deciding instead to open local establishments and which then competed for innovative menus and brews. Everybody wins.
posted by dammitjim at 9:16 AM on January 27, 2010


I've been taking home growlers of my local brews here in Baltimore for at least 10 years. It's a great way to cut down on putting out hundreds of bottles at a time for recycling.
posted by HumanComplex at 9:20 AM on January 27, 2010


I use growlers when making my homebrew, too! Viva growlers!
posted by kaseijin at 9:21 AM on January 27, 2010


The Lion Pub in Lennoxville, QC has been using growlers for at least five years now, probably longer. We love 'em not only for buying beer to bring home, but also as reusable containers for home brewing.
posted by Shepherd at 9:22 AM on January 27, 2010


k&e in new paltz ny has had dogfish 90 day ipa for sale in growlers the last few times i've passed thru....
posted by kimyo at 9:23 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Huh, so this is a Double Gulp's worth of beer?
posted by boo_radley at 9:24 AM on January 27, 2010


Huh, so this is a Double Gulp's worth of beer?

It's about a six-pack in a glass jug.
posted by HumanComplex at 9:26 AM on January 27, 2010


Victory Brewing Company growler filler in action. It's quite a show in person. Nitrogen flush displaces the air that would be in the bottle. Sweet.
posted by fixedgear at 9:27 AM on January 27, 2010


New? I must have gotten my first german-style growler 20 years ago! Been doing great duty on my dresser for holding loose change. I've got others for usage these days though.
posted by mikelieman at 9:27 AM on January 27, 2010


k&e in new paltz ny has had dogfish 90 day ipa for sale in growlers the last few times i've passed thru....

90-day IPA? Now that's hoppy!
posted by ekroh at 9:28 AM on January 27, 2010


Huh, so this is a Double Gulp's worth of beer?

Yes.
posted by mikelieman at 9:29 AM on January 27, 2010


I use growlers when making my homebrew, too! Viva growlers!

James Spencer shows you how. (Direct mp4 link)

I love growlers. There's just something cool about bringing home a jug of fresh-tapped craft brew.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:30 AM on January 27, 2010


No more Grolsch? Though, why does everyone and everything associated with craft brewing have the aesthetic of a 19th c. fur trapper from Vermont?
posted by geoff. at 9:33 AM on January 27, 2010


Growlers are, in concept, not new even to the US. Takeaway draft beer (usually in buckets) was fairly common pre-Prohibition.
posted by nickmark at 9:35 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


There is something quite satisfying about stopping by our local and having a pint or two and then leaving with a growler. There's always and empty growler in my trunk at the ready for an emergency stop at our local brewpub. But we're having a hard time keeping full Growlers in the fridge though.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 9:35 AM on January 27, 2010


They're all over Baltimore.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:35 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]



k&e in new paltz ny has had dogfish 90 day ipa for sale in growlers the last few times i've passed thru....
posted by kimyo


Its actually 90 Minute IPA, but its fantastic regardless. The 120 Minute is pretty serious.....
posted by blaneyphoto at 9:37 AM on January 27, 2010


I've been using growlers in Philly since the mid-late '90s; they're awesome!
posted by Mister_A at 9:37 AM on January 27, 2010


Do they have a safety valve? Because I wouldn't be too excited about amateur-bottled, gas-producing liquids in glass bottles otherwise.
posted by DU at 9:38 AM on January 27, 2010


First place I saw 'em was at Dock Street Brew Pub. Anyway, PAGING FIXEDGEAR.
posted by Mister_A at 9:38 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Whoa, whoa you can go to a bar and they'll fill up a growler? This seems illegal, do you guys run into problems?
posted by geoff. at 9:40 AM on January 27, 2010


Perhaps the perception of the American Beer Drinker will soon evolve in the eyes of people from long-time beer cultures in Europe and elsewhere

I hate this perception so much. The rest of the world is filled with their own weak crappy commercial beer. In fact, the US craft brew industry directly inspired Nogne Ø and Mikkeller into breaking out of their boring native beer scenes and brewing real ale.
posted by mkb at 9:41 AM on January 27, 2010 [8 favorites]


Ahh, beerchat.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:42 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Growers are neat - getitng one filled is such a friendly neighborhood feeling.
posted by The Whelk at 9:44 AM on January 27, 2010


My dad told me a story of having his father send him down to the bar to refill their half-gallon jugs. This would have been in the early 50's, so not so much new as a return.
posted by Mick at 9:47 AM on January 27, 2010


All replies must be burped.
posted by burnfirewalls at 9:48 AM on January 27, 2010


Speakeasy, Beach Chalet, and Magnolia in San Francisco offer them.

RRBC in Santa Rosa does, and I think 3rd St does as well.

Pike Place Brewing & Uber Tavern in Seatte have them.

Ginger Man NYC does.
posted by troymccluresf at 9:49 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


These have been available in New England since the mid 90's. You need to drink it fast or the beer sucks. If you don't have any friends over and aren't looking to get hammered, don't open it yet.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:50 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


My brother, whose current job involves craft beer knowledge and who is largely responsible for my love of craft beer, has been doing the growler thing at a local BEER AND SODA place on Long Island for a few years and swears by it. It's only what they have available, and some places just rotate this or that beer from week to week out of their one growler tap, but apparently it's the way to go. Either way, consider me one of the American beer drinkers contributing to the growing fad or whatever. If you like beer for more than alcohol content, generally drinking craft beers is a pretty taste-changing discovery.

they also get you drunk as fuck, btw.
posted by shmegegge at 9:51 AM on January 27, 2010


I get most of my beer via Growlers from the wonderful East End Brewing in Pittsburgh. The brewery is in an almost unmarked warehouse on an abandoned dead end street in a sketchy part of town. The Big Hop and Snow Melt Ales are amazing, the Pedal Pale Ale is pretty good too.
posted by octothorpe at 9:52 AM on January 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


there's a few places in Memphis where you can grab growlers (Boscos, for one).. they don't really refill them so much as they take them and give you a new one (the beer'd be flat otherwise - it carbonates in the container). I don't worry about them exploding as they're professional brewers and tend to know what they're doing. they're already done carbonating by the time they're sold, so if they were gonna explode, they'd have done it before you got it (unless you're doing homebrew).
posted by mrg at 9:53 AM on January 27, 2010


They sell growlers at the Mill St brewery in the Distillery district in Toronto. I don't think you refill your own though - you return the empties to the store/brewery and get new ones in return. It's basically like regular beer in Ontario but bigger bottles and a single location.
posted by GuyZero at 9:53 AM on January 27, 2010


Growlers rock, but I can't help but wonder, are speakeasies next?
posted by tommasz at 9:55 AM on January 27, 2010


I have several Growlers from local restaurant/breweries lying around at my place. The good ones will actually let you exchange your old growler for a new one so that you don't have to bother with cleaning it out properly. It's usually pretty cheap to get one filled up, too.

Do they have a safety valve? Because I wouldn't be too excited about amateur-bottled, gas-producing liquids in glass bottles otherwise.

There's not really much you can screw up in the bottling process. The growler is designed to handle significantly more pressure than any normal beer would be able to get to. There are rare cases where badly-brewed beer produces way too much CO2 (most commonly due to a certain kind of bacteria finding its way into the brew), but even then it's much more likely that you'll open the growler and have beer spray out (like a shaken-up soda can) than that the actual growler will explode. Note that you actually need to use growlers (which are designed to hold pressure) rather than any old jug though.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:58 AM on January 27, 2010


Perhaps the perception of the American Beer Drinker will soon evolve in the eyes of people from long-time beer cultures in Europe and elsewhere.

"Evolve"? To most people, beer is supposed to be what the mass-produced stuff is.

Why? Because it's just beer. Beer is not supposed to be anything more than that. Bud, Stella, Guinness, Carlsberg, etc. is state-of-the-art beer.
posted by Zambrano at 9:59 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Perhaps the perception of the American Beer Drinker will soon evolve in the eyes of people from long-time beer cultures in Europe and elsewhere?

I thought that the strong ales from the U.S. had already affected the European perception of the Usian beer? Am I misunderstanding?
posted by Hicksu at 10:00 AM on January 27, 2010


they don't really refill them so much as they take them and give you a new one (the beer'd be flat otherwise

You're taking too long to finish them! They're for when you get home, not next week!
posted by mikelieman at 10:00 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Whoa, whoa you can go to a bar and they'll fill up a growler? This seems illegal, do you guys run into problems?

Well, not just any bar; usually a brewery or brewpub. The legality varies - usually they seal the growler after filling, so it's not an open container.

Here in MN, Surly Brewing had to stop selling growlers at their brewery due to local laws preventing large breweries (they were too successful!) from serving or selling beer on premises. You'll take my Surly growler empties from my cold, dead hands etc...
posted by neckro23 at 10:01 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Because it's just beer. Beer is not supposed to be anything more than that. Bud, Stella, Guinness, Carlsberg, etc. is state-of-the-art beer.

I don't know about that, dude. I mean, beer as alcohol-delivery-system, sure. But beer as a beverage to enjoy for flavor isn't that odd a way to drink, at least not any more so than quality food is more than simply sustenance injection.
posted by shmegegge at 10:02 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's a great way to cut down on putting out hundreds of bottles at a time for recycling.

you, sir, obviously don't drink the same way i used to drink.
posted by msconduct at 10:05 AM on January 27, 2010


I just got a growler this weekend at Wachusett Brewery, cost about $20 for the growler and $7 for a refill. A little expensive for the first time, but there's nothing like fresh Wachusett Blueberry Beer though.
posted by lilkeith07 at 10:08 AM on January 27, 2010


Whole Foods sells beer in them. And they're cool unless you like to have a beer a night or so over the course of a week, and then your beer is flat.
posted by jckll at 10:09 AM on January 27, 2010


Road trip up to the Woodstock Inn for a couple growlers of Pig's Ear Brown Ale, anyone?
posted by oinopaponton at 10:09 AM on January 27, 2010


If you're curious how much a growler costs vs. a regular six-pack, a Portland beer blogger (and my next door neighbor) created the Six-Pack Equivalent (SPE) Calculator. It's really handy since most people don't know the conversion ratios between the various beer container sizes and unit systems.
posted by turbodog at 10:09 AM on January 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


Whoa, neckro23, Surly did growlers? *swoon* I so miss Minnesota....
posted by wenestvedt at 10:11 AM on January 27, 2010


Whoa, whoa you can go to a bar and they'll fill up a growler? This seems illegal, do you guys run into problems?

Some breweries gripe about or refuse to fill growlers that didn't come from their place, but now that they are so common I think that's dying out.
posted by turbodog at 10:12 AM on January 27, 2010


Because it's just beer. Beer is not supposed to be anything more than that.

If your comment was a beer, it would be Coors Light.
posted by dhammond at 10:14 AM on January 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


not new, even in "flyover" country and yeah, once you open it you gotta finish it. But, otherwise growlers are pretty good. A local place has started offering "adventure" growlers, basically bpa-free 1/2 gallon rigid Nalgene-type bottles. Lightweight, to haul to the heart of the woods, top of the mountain, middle of the BWCA, at the beach, on the ice.. etc.
posted by edgeways at 10:19 AM on January 27, 2010


Burnside Brewing Co. is selling their stuff in growlers to the liquor stores hereabouts. It's a lot more convenient than a six-pack - I pour my beer into mugs or glasses anyhow, and six bottles seems wasteful, and you don't have to go hunting through the junk drawer for your church-key. It also helps that their beer is fantastic.

The Coddington brewpub in Mddletown, RI, has always sold growlers, and my Mom, of all people always picks up a growler of their pumpkin ale every october. (And I pounce on their barelywine whenever it appears.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:20 AM on January 27, 2010


I particularly like the micro brews in the pacific northwest. If you can get over the dreary wet look you can find some great micro brews and craft beers.
posted by rateit at 10:21 AM on January 27, 2010


Because it's just beer. Beer is not supposed to be anything more than that. Bud, Stella, Guinness, Carlsberg, etc. is state-of-the-art beer.

Them's fighting words. I know I get worked up about beer, but there's more to beer than hops, malt, water and yeast (in your case there's also rice, malt extract products, stabilizers, preservatives, residual clarifying agents, and aluminum oxides if you drink out of a can). I tend to think of beer beer of liquid poetry, but I'm a beer nerd.

In the case of growlers, they also make a great instrument while you're drinking. Throw in a banjo and a washboard and you're almost ready to party.
posted by JimmyJames at 10:22 AM on January 27, 2010


"not new, even in "flyover" country and yeah, once you open it you gotta finish it. But, otherwise growlers are pretty good. A local place has started offering "adventure" growlers, basically bpa-free 1/2 gallon rigid Nalgene-type bottles. Lightweight, to haul to the heart of the woods, top of the mountain, middle of the BWCA, at the beach, on the ice.. etc."

Man, plastic-bottled craft beer. I mean, cans, okay, sure, but I wasn't expecting that.

neat! perfect for bike camping trips
posted by The Bridge on the River Kai Ryssdal at 10:24 AM on January 27, 2010


I just had this: Corsendonk Dubbel.

I have nothing else to say.
posted by srboisvert at 10:24 AM on January 27, 2010


I have a bookcase made with growlers, as the vertical support for horizontal boards (2 on each end). Works and looks great. Geeze I bought these ca. 1994 in Baltimore.. glad to hear growlers are making (slow) inroads.
posted by stbalbach at 10:25 AM on January 27, 2010


The best beer is beer.
posted by The Whelk at 10:27 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


> a new (to the US, anyway) container

Uh, no. From Brander Matthews, "The Function of Slang" (Harper's New Monthly Magazine, July 1893), p. 307:
In New York a can brought in filled with beer at a bar-room is called a growler, and the act of sending this can from the private house to the public-house and black is called working the growler.
posted by languagehat at 10:35 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


We even have them in Wyoming! But then, people do like their booze here.
posted by elder18 at 10:36 AM on January 27, 2010


(For "black" read "back." Stupid OCR.)
posted by languagehat at 10:36 AM on January 27, 2010


Way back in '04 I went to the Blackstone Brewery in Nashville (which has since ceased distribution, unfortunately, but still brews beer for on-site consumption), and sat next to this dude with a lazy eye who was having his growler filled. I struck up a conversation with him and he explained to me that he had his growler filled at this pub fairly regularly, but that he would have to carry it out the back door when he left the pub, due to some old law leftover from just after prohibition. Ah, the quirky moral climate of the South. I do miss it sometimes.

Nthing brewing in your own growler. It feels old-timey somehow, and it's fun to pour out a single bottle into several people's glasses at once.
posted by Pecinpah at 10:38 AM on January 27, 2010


Er...not 'at once', really...more like 'in sequence'.
posted by Pecinpah at 10:41 AM on January 27, 2010


Maine just passed a bill that went into effect in Sept 2009 that allows growlers to be sold directly in brew pubs. Previously, the bar had to have a retail store in order to sell them. Viva le growler!
posted by mbatch at 10:43 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know what the greatest thing is? When, late on a warm spring day, you sling a bag around your shoulders, filled with two empty growlers, and bike over to your nearest beer-filler to get 'em filled. You bike back home, arriving at your house sweaty and tired. You open one growler up, and take a swig of a nice crisp ipa straight from the growler. That is the greatest thing. I heartily recommend that thing.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:48 AM on January 27, 2010 [7 favorites]


My local brewpub (the well loved Hunter-Gatherer) will buy your growler back from you if you decide you don't like it. I asked the bartender how many they had bought back, he looked at me thoughtfully for a moment, polled the other staff and finally came back and told me: "None." Of course I've bought several, due to my tendency to leave them places, but apparently even people who are given them aren't returning them for the bounty, they'd rather have the beer.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 10:58 AM on January 27, 2010


If you scoff at the $11/bottle of 120-minute IPA Dogfish Head (20% ABV), then a good alternative is the $4/bottle Old School Barleywine Dogfish Head (15% ABV).
posted by yeti at 11:06 AM on January 27, 2010


I've been refilling my growler at the Great Dane in Madison for years.

Growler (to go half gallon) $14.00 includes the 1/2 gallon jug filled with beer. The non-returnable growler can be refilled for $10.

If you get the Devil's Lake Red, you need to drink it fast or it goes flat, which is a shame because it's my favorite. But the Scotch Ale is awesome with some homemade crockpot beef stew.

Now, I am hungry.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:08 AM on January 27, 2010


Bars and even bottle shops in PA, home of suck ass liquor laws, fill growlers. It's just four pints, only to go.
posted by fixedgear at 11:12 AM on January 27, 2010


We found the best way to take home beer was a spaghetti container in Prague 4 on a cold winter's night. 50 cents for the whole thing.

But I guess a Growler would work too.
posted by czechmate at 11:13 AM on January 27, 2010


I hate this perception so much. The rest of the world is filled with their own weak crappy commercial beer.

Berliner Kindl
posted by Ironmouth at 11:30 AM on January 27, 2010


Perhaps the perception of the American Beer Drinker will soon evolve in the eyes of people from long-time beer cultures in Europe and elsewhere?

Personally I think that beer should be a local product. When I was in the US I drank Shiner Weizen f.i. When I'm in my home country the Netherlands I drink Belgian Dubbel, German Hefe Weizen and Dutch beer.
When I'm in France or Italy I'll drink their beer. Every country has its cheap standard refreshing lager. Alhambra, Moretti, Jupiler, Or it's more interesting local niche beers.

So yes; the preconception here is that Bud represents US beer. But so is the idea that US americans are war hungry gun carrying homophobes. (I'm exagerating, but you know what I mean) And that's not true either.
I'm sure you guys in the US would have a hard time coming up with any personable Dutch beer but plain lagers like Heineken and Grolsch as well.
posted by joost de vries at 11:32 AM on January 27, 2010


So this place in Brooklyn started filling growlers in 2006? Well done! NYC finally caught up to what was easily available in most other beer-friendly parts of the country (including upstate NY) since at least the mid-1990s. Worst beer scene of any big city.
posted by snottydick at 11:33 AM on January 27, 2010


Maybe they'll make bergy bits for taking home our shots.
posted by crapmatic at 11:35 AM on January 27, 2010


Growlers are new to people? Schlafly, here in St. Louis, has been doing them as long as I've been going there (12? 14? years).

Once I was in Missoula, and went to the Big Sky bottle works to try their non-bottled specialty beers (you can't *buy* a beer, just a sample. But you can tip the bartender!). They do growlers. Yeah, the cooler, and the whole road trip, were re-arranged so I could take a few growlers of their special beers back home. Yum!
posted by notsnot at 11:37 AM on January 27, 2010


Worst beer scene of any big city.
posted by snottydick


I can't tell if this is like a joke account or what
posted by Greg Nog at 11:56 AM on January 27, 2010


Brouwerij Lane has a great & constantly changing row of taps in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
posted by klapaucius at 12:10 PM on January 27, 2010


Here in Little Rock, both Vino's and Boscos (also in Memphis, as noted above) fill growlers.
posted by box at 12:23 PM on January 27, 2010


Seems like some folks are a little late for the party, that's all...
posted by OHenryPacey at 12:26 PM on January 27, 2010


I've found that getting a growler refilled can often cost as much or more than just getting a six pack, even with the bottle deposit. Considering that a growler (64oz) is closer in volume to a five pack (60oz), what's the upside?
posted by JohnFredra at 12:29 PM on January 27, 2010


New? I vaguely remember that dads used to send a child to the "local"' for a pitcher of beer. Because of the minor age of the child, that would must have been a neighborhood thing.
posted by Cranberry at 12:35 PM on January 27, 2010


JohnFredra: one potential upside is that growlers are more environmentally-friendly (well, compared to recycling (as opposed to reusing) 12-oz. bottles. Another is that, for the homebrewer, growlers can be easier to deal with (depending on your priorities, natch) than smaller bottles.
posted by box at 12:40 PM on January 27, 2010


I like the Six-Pack Equivalent calculator turbodog noted above. That was my argument a few years ago when my beer guy started pouring growlers, that a growler shouldn't cost more per beer than a six-pack of the same beer.

He wouldn't listen and priced everything at a flat $9. Basically then, if a beer is over $10 a six-pack, I go for the growler. Otherwise, I stick with bottles. Moreover, this equation doesn't even consider the cheaper cost of keg beer. At $9/growler, they're adding a nice little markup to the *retail* cost of those kegs. Makes no sense.

Another thing that makes no sense is the brewpub in town that charges the same rate for a growler as if I were to sit there at the bar and drink it pint by pint.

Sorry, I love growlers, but overpriced growlers not so much.
posted by lost_cause at 12:41 PM on January 27, 2010


JohnFreda, despite my rant above, one upside is that a beer can be better out of the keg than the bottle. Avery's IPA is one I've noticed recently. My beer guy claimed that keg beer is fresher, but I wonder about that when he's still pouring growlers of Sierra Anniversary six weeks after the bottles are gone.
posted by lost_cause at 12:47 PM on January 27, 2010


Considering that a growler (64oz) is closer in volume to a five pack (60oz), what's the upside?

Another advantage is that you can get beer that isn't bottled. The small brewpubs near where I live don't bottle their beer, they just sell it on-site by the pint or in growlers. Even for major breweries that bottle their beer, often they will have special seasonal brews that don't end up making it into six-packs.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:50 PM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Unfortunately due to state law in Texas our local brewery is prohibited from selling beer on site. They've been trying to get the law changed for a while but the distributors are notoriously powerful and TABC is notoriously corrupt.

I'd love to be able to stop by and fill up, but unless we get more support in the Texas legislature it's not going to happen.
posted by beowulf573 at 12:58 PM on January 27, 2010


I think those are all well-reasoned points, and I somehow missed that people brewed in them (as opposed to just using them for transport from a brewery.) I guess it just seems a little odd to me that getting a growler filled tends to come with a premium that defies my usual bulk-purchase expectations.
posted by JohnFredra at 1:02 PM on January 27, 2010


Because it's just beer. Beer is not supposed to be anything more than that. Bud, Stella, Guinness, Carlsberg, etc. is state-of-the-art beer.

Because it's just food, and food is not supposed to be anything more than that. McDonald's, Burger King, Taco Bell, KFC, etc. is just state-of-the-art food?

I kind of get the point you're making and I really tried to bite my tongue... but I can't help it, I'm an unapologetic beer snob.
posted by usonian at 1:11 PM on January 27, 2010


JohnFreda: Depending on where you are, the beer available in growlers is not sold off-license. Here in Minnesota I can't go out and get a six pack from Town Hall, Barley John's, Fitger's, etc. I can only go to the brewpub and have the bartender fill 'er up.
posted by look busy at 1:16 PM on January 27, 2010


Not new. But delicious.
posted by desuetude at 1:19 PM on January 27, 2010


Please don't brew in your growlers. Jug-style growlers aren't made to withstand the pressure of carbonating, so you risk having the bottom break off your growler.

Pics or it didn't happen.
posted by revgeorge at 1:21 PM on January 27, 2010


We were drinking growlers back in the 70's. Two bucks for a half gallon in (N IL).
posted by torquemaniac at 1:32 PM on January 27, 2010


Bah, you kids and your glassware. Rubicon, relatively oldchool local hopheads has been selling from-the-tap beer-in-a-box -- in a bladder, of course, like wine. The primary benefit of the Rubicube is its cubic design: cubestack, FTW!
posted by Ogre Lawless at 1:37 PM on January 27, 2010


mrg: "they don't really refill them so much as they take them and give you a new one (the beer'd be flat otherwise - it carbonates in the container)."

They most likely swap them out because they can't be sure you properly sanitized the bottle. One of our local brewpubs told me specifically that they stopped refilling growlers because it was just too much trouble for the bartender to clean and seal the bottle while they had other customers waiting.

It's probably not the case that they carbonate in the container. When you make beer, you make it in a big batch and put it in a big fermenter with an airlock that lets the gas escape. The yeast get busy eating the sugar from the malt and producing alcohol and CO2. When the yeast are done, the beer is done, but you've let all the gas escape during this time, so you've got a flat beer. You need to carbonate it.

Most homebrewers do this by putting it in a bottle and adding a little more sugar to the little amount of yeast left. They cap off the bottle and the yeast starts eating the sugar and producing the CO2. There's (hopefully) not enough sugar for them to produce enough gas to break the bottle. Just enough to get you some bubbles.

But the easier way is to just push CO2 into the beer. That's what the keg is for. You attach a CO2 tank to the keg and turn up the pressure. When you fill a growler from a keg, that beer isn't actively creating CO2, and isn't going to add pressure to the bottle over time. You don't have to worry about it exploding. On the contrary, your problem is that the growler doesn't have an airtight seal, and the CO2 will leak out, making your beer flat again. That's why you need to drink it sooner rather than later.
posted by team lowkey at 2:23 PM on January 27, 2010


The Yuppie 40®
posted by jonmc at 2:33 PM on January 27, 2010


But so is the idea that US americans are war hungry gun carrying homophobes.

Who you callin' a homophobe?
posted by adamdschneider at 2:33 PM on January 27, 2010


Bud, Stella, Guinness, Carlsberg, etc. is state-of-the-art beer.

One of those can't legally be called beer in Germany (all that corn, and rice, and stuff). Stella, Guinness and Carlsberg are state of the art beer in their own styles ("clean tasting Lager", Irish Stout, German Lager). Those aren't the only 3 styles. And actually two of those would also be illegal in medieval Germany. Beer had to be top-fermented at room temperature, because that's how God intended it. By your definition, the Pale Ale, which is what was what most meant by "beer" in the last few hundred years, is out of the state of the art.

One thing that does make commercial beers "state-of-the-art" though, is that consistency is a huge quality indicator for beer (you can't get away with being wildly inconsistent across vintages, like wine is), and those guys are able to nail the exact same flavor across thousands of batches. With something like BudMillerCoors, so bland and neutral that any tiny deviation would swing the flavor off, that's no small feat.

Of course, McDonalds hamburgers are also very consistent across batches... :P
posted by qvantamon at 3:35 PM on January 27, 2010


And by the way, euro-snobbery about the "American Light Lager" apart, Americans have created one great and very original style (California Steam Beer), resurrected and perfected more than a few styles that had all but died in their birthplace (IPA and Imperial Stout, for instance), saved one international style from extinction (The reason Witbier didn't die again is because Pierre Celis was able to sell Hoegaarden to the American market - and then move here and make Celis - otherwise Interbrew would've just closed Hoegaarden a long time ago).

Americans have also done the most innovation in hops on the last century. C-hops might be the most original hops to show up since Saaz showed up in Bohemia a few centuries ago.

And of course, America pioneered using Busch cans for gun target practice. America, number one!
posted by qvantamon at 3:49 PM on January 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


Why? Because it's just beer. Beer is not supposed to be anything more than that. Bud, Stella, Guinness, Carlsberg, etc. is state-of-the-art beer.

No sir.

No sir.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:51 PM on January 27, 2010


Before I get called out on that, of course Carlsberg is Danish, not German. I bundled it in the German[-style] Lager bucket due to using Hallertauer instead of Saaz, and honestly forgot they were Danish. My bad.
posted by qvantamon at 4:06 PM on January 27, 2010


I'm sure you guys in the US would have a hard time coming up with any personable Dutch beer but plain lagers like Heineken and Grolsch as well.

Koningshoeven?

posted by HumuloneRanger at 4:42 PM on January 27, 2010


usonian: Because it's just food, and food is not supposed to be anything more than that. McDonald's, Burger King, Taco Bell, KFC, etc. is just state-of-the-art food?

Who on the planet Earth delivers FoodStuffUnits more consistently and accurately than McDonald's Inc? No one does. No one even comes close. In beer terms, that is Bud, all the way, in fact it still remains to be seen if InBev will be able to keep the freshness and consistency levels that Bud created up to snuff. Food (or beer) production simply hasn't gotten any more advanced than what McD's has come up with, and they are the ones pushing that frontier the same way Bud was when they introduced "Born On" dating to explain the concept of fresh beer to the swill drinking public.

Now, for my money (and I assume for yours) if all you want is FoodStuffUnits, you might as well eat monkey chow, personally I will scrimp and save on my entire household budget to be able to swing that one nice piece of raw, artisan cheese into the monthly budget if need be.

Tonight, we are drinking Rugbrød from The Bruery; what we will be following it with is currently unknown, but a Mobay goat & sheep's milk cheese will certainly be a part of the factor.
posted by paisley henosis at 7:46 PM on January 27, 2010


....dogfish 90 day ipa..........................posted by kimyo
Its actually 90 Minute IPA, but its fantastic regardless.
posted by blaneyphoto


pesky earth time units......

imagine if they had the world wide stout in growlers. then time would truly have no meaning.
posted by kimyo at 9:13 PM on January 27, 2010


yep, I've been using those for years no, since at least the mid 90s.

Borealis Brewing Company in Anchorage (RIP) used to fill Camelbaks for you too. Very popular with skiers :)
posted by fshgrl at 10:26 PM on January 27, 2010


What's wrong with aluminum?
posted by The Hamms Bear at 10:43 PM on January 27, 2010


I like beer. I drink beer. Unfortunately, the Korean beer that I am compelled to drink is, well, to be kind, unexciting. It comes in 1.6 litre magic plastic bottles. I usually add lemon juice to make it palatable (or swirl a hank of kimchi in it before quaffing, which is splendid, but which Koreans invariably find hilarious and shocking).

I am not what you would call an aesthete when it comes to beer. I have had little patience all my drinking life for wine-related snobbery, and am a little dismayed at the increasing trend towards similarly 'elevated' beer discourse. I admit, though, as with most things, that if you are willing to spend more money, you will get a better product. Maybe it's just that I'm stupid frugal.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:01 AM on January 28, 2010


Kimchi beer sounds great. Rogue has a Chipotle Ale which I think is really good, despite my normal aversion to gimmicky seeming beers.
posted by fixedgear at 4:27 AM on January 28, 2010


I've never had Korean beer, but I learned to drink beer in China ($5 for a case of 24 bottles cheap) because when I was teaching there, my salary was too low to buy any kind of cocktail. Here's a good tip: learn to like crap beer. Or not like, but cope with. After you've learned what bad beer is, you'll truly appreciate good stuff. If you start off on some highbrow craft brew, you'll be unable to drink pretty much anything else, ever.

Also, one of the joys of traveling through China is the local beer factor. Nearly every city I visited had a different beer available, with varying degrees of enjoyability. If you ever cross paths with A-OK beer, however, run the opposite way. It's really, really not good.

Living over in Japan, I'm jealous of the beer back home. Here, it's Kirin, Sapporo, Asahi, or fake beer. There are local breweries, but seriously local. Unfortunately, the ones near me aren't all that good. On the other hand, if you're in Kalamazoo any time soon, try some of the beers from Arcadia. I had the pleasure of sampling several this summer, and I'm looking forward to some more next time I go back.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:18 AM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Rogue has a Chipotle Ale which I think is really good, despite my normal aversion to gimmicky seeming beers.

Oh yeah! When my local bar has that, they also suggest mixing it half-and-half with either stout or cider, both of which are pretty tasty mixtures.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:39 AM on January 28, 2010


Ghidorah: Living over in Japan, I'm jealous of the beer back home. Here, it's Kirin, Sapporo, Asahi, or fake beer. There are local breweries, but seriously local. Unfortunately, the ones near me aren't all that good.

So I can get Hitachino all the way on the east coast, but you can't get it in Japan? That is wild.
posted by paisley henosis at 11:03 AM on January 28, 2010


At one point you could buy Moosehead (from Nova Scotia) in Australia but not in Ontario. There are sometimes really weird intra-national trade barriers for alcohol.
posted by GuyZero at 11:10 AM on January 28, 2010


paisley, I went to the Yokohama Beer Festival this year, and I found some absolutely amazing Japanese beers. Keep in mind, I actually like Ebisu, and Sapporo and Asahi aren't all that bad, but the Michinoku Fukushima-ji Beer Red Ale is hands down the best beer I've ever tasted. The problem? The brewery doesn't have a website, or email, and I've only found a phone number to call, and I hate speaking Japanese on the phone. The Tanzawa no Shizuku Honey Ale was also great.

The problem is, if you go to one of the little mom and pop shops, you'd be hard pressed to find anything but the main brands. I've started asking about ji-biru, or local beer, and most of them seemed shocked that I'd be interested. Only one has even mentioned that they could try to order some. If I liked sake, then this would all be moot, since the crafting of sake gets respect here, while beer is more of a curiosity.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:22 PM on January 28, 2010


growlers...how many times have I bought way too high quality beer for way too much money way too late at night in those things
posted by sredefer at 6:33 PM on January 28, 2010


Sapporo and Asahi aren't all that bad

Heh. They are like pre-ejaculatory fluid from the golden glans of Zeus in comparison to Korean beers [NOT GAY FOR BEER].

I'd drink them (they became widely available here a few years ago) if they weren't prohibitively expensive for the quantity I tend to imbibe when I'm in an imbibin' mood.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:41 PM on January 28, 2010


Worst beer scene of any big city.
posted by snottydick

I can't tell if this is like a joke account or what
posted by Greg Nog


Nope, not a joke account. Maybe some humor in the comment, but you gotta admit, considering its size and the resources available, it took a puzzlingly long time for NYC (and really, just Brooklyn) to get into the same league with places like Philadelphia, Boston, Portland, San Diego, etc.
posted by snottydick at 9:34 AM on January 30, 2010


Okay, then, while I mostly agree with you, I think it's an exaggeration. I'm not sure where you draw the 'big city' line, but is the NYC beer scene worse than the one in Los Angeles, or Dallas, or Vegas?
posted by box at 12:25 PM on January 30, 2010


Those aren't real cities. You made those up.
posted by snottydick at 12:50 PM on February 15, 2010


Okay, okay, maybe I made up Vegas.
posted by box at 1:15 PM on February 15, 2010


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