Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Growlers! Drink Fresh!
Anyone can pick up a six-pack at the grocery store on the way to a barbeque. If you want to stand out from the crowd go to your local brewery or Alehouse and pick up a growler. A growler is a glass jug (usually 1/2 gallon) filled with draft fresh beer to enjoy off site of the brewery or pub. Historically, the growler predates canning and bottling, and was the only means to enjoy beer outside of the tavern. The origins of the term growler are a little vague. The early growlers were metal pails with a lid, and children would be dispatched to the pub to fill these pails and bring them to workers eating lunch to fill their "growling" stomachs. The modern glass jug version was popularized by brewpubs in the eighties.
How long does a growler last? Filled and sealed properly a growler should last at least a week unopened. Once open, the beer will retain some carbonation for an extra day. At home if you drank two pints a day it would last just fine.
How much does a half gallon cost? Prices vary wildly. Alehouses charge between eleven to 15 dollars depending on what beer you are getting. Generally, the rule of thumb is that the growler is a shade cheaper than what they charge for a pitcher. Breweries are usually significantly cheaper, as their cost to provide this service is significantly lower, since the middle man has been cut out. Georgetown Brewing Company is the cheapest that I have seen at six dollars for a fill and 5 dollars for the jug. They also have a filling system that completely flushes the jug of oxygen, and when filled will last at least two weeks. Brewery direct, a growler will run somewhere between six and twelve dollars. for a fill. It is a little more expensive than grabbing a six-pack of whatever is on sale at the grocery store. Another way to look at it is if you are going to a dinner party and bring a bottle of wine, you should be bringing a bottle that costs at least fifteen dollars.
Where can I get one? In Seattle, The Dray, Pillagers Pub, 74th St. Alehouse (and their other two locations), Naked City Taphouse, The Old Town Alehouse, The Latona Pub, Hopvine, and Fiddler's Inn have always have interesting local beers from small breweries and will happily pour you a growler. Just about every brewery in town will fill a growler, and you might get to meet the brewer that made your beer!
For your next backyard extravaganza go pick up a growler, bring a unique beer, and get back to supporting your local brewery or Alehouse, just like they did in the 1800's up until prohibition ruined everything. Lastly, recycling a growler is a much greener way to drink, and will noticeably reduce your glass consumption.