High on Hops: Guide to Growlers


The venerable beer growler serves one specific purpose: the safe storage of draft beer for later consumption. But where and when you’re drinking that precious beer may determine the type of growler best suited to the situation.

Local laws will determine where you can fill your empty growler. Some states allow you to top up directly at breweries, while others require visiting equipped package stores or dedicated growler shops to get your suds.

Likewise, the capacity of your growler will be dependent on your state and local ordinances. On the small side, you can fill up a 32-ounce “Growlette” for the equivalent of two pints to go. Some states will allow you to transport large gallon jugs that require two hands to carry. The 64-ounce, half-gallon size is a nice middle ground and will allow enough beer to personally savor as well as share with a small group.

The construction of the growler is where you can get creative with your beer vessel of choice. Each has its place depending on the circumstances required.

Glass growlers are the most common type. When buying a glass growler, make sure to select a dark amber one. Clear or lightly colored glass is bad for your beer because it lets in light that can cause spoilage. Many growler stores allow for trade-ins or quick cleaning of glass growlers when getting refills, which makes them an easy all-purpose selection. If you’re only going to get one growler, make it glass.

Stainless steel growlers are better insulated than glass and completely light proof. While they look cool, stainless growlers are also a more expensive up-front investment. On the positive side, since they are unbreakable, you’ll get a lifetime of use with proper care. If you need to keep a growler cold for a longer period of time, stainless can’t be beat.

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Plastic growlers are also available. The 32-ounce “bullet” style PET growler is a nice choice for the beach or backpacking as it’s lightweight and relatively durable. Like other formats, plastic growlers can be cleaned and refilled; but if you ever get tired of them, they can also be easily recycled.

The options for growlers expand even further when you consider newer formats like collapsible growler pouches, or artistically designed ceramic growlers. No matter what type of growler you use, buying high quality draft beer and taking it with you is a great way to support your favorite brewery and have fabulous tasting, pub-worthy beer no matter where you are.