Growlers: Not Just For Pirates

Canoeing to the DCMF?

You are probably already concerned about the rattling of beer bottles in your canoe (to be safely consumed, of course, by your campfire and not while out on the water). We hear your pain.

If drinking from a can doesn’t float your boat (i.e., lack of a good inhale upon drinking stops you from truly tasting the beer; you can’t see what you are consuming; you get a wicked metallic finish) then The Growler is the way forward.

We are guessing that if you are reading this, you are not one of the seven people in Whitehorse who don’t know what a growler is; however, ever wondered where it got its name, or where it came from?

Years ago (19th century) kids were sent – either by workers at lunchtime or parents at dinnertime – to the bar with large metal buckets to be brought back filled with beer.

The term “growler” is said to have originated from the sound that the CO2 made when escaping from the bucket’s lid … kind of like a growl.

The coolest expression ever, “rushing the growler”, refers to youth running back and forth between bar and destination carrying these vessels filled with beer.

Fast forward to 1989 and the birth of the glass growler as we now know it. High fives to Otto Brothers’ Brewing Company of Wyoming, owned and operated by Charlie and Ernie Otto.

Since then, this half-gallon refillable glass jug has been adopted as the environmentally conscious and trendy-as-heck choice for micro and craft breweries.

Whether it is your basic screw-on lid or plastic washer with a flip top, each growler is the equivalent of six cans/bottles of beer.

Keeping in mind that the average Canadian drinks over 200 cans/bottles of beer a year, saving the manufacturing, shipping, and recycling costs and emissions of six cans/bottles per growler, pretty much makes growler-filling the next solar panel.

Unlike a can or a bottle of beer, a filled growler is not meant to sit in your basement, or even your fridge, for more than a week (ideally).

This primary difference between bottles and growlers is due to the pouring process and the inability to control oxygen while filling a growler. Oxidization will reduce the shelf life by staling the beer.

This is why, when you’re getting your growler filled, they will over-fill it. It looks as if they’re wasting beer, but they’re really purging the vessel of oxygen. Honestly, this waste is for your own good.

Some breweries sell their growlers and some ‘lend’ them on a deposit system, but all growler-selling locations will have a branded vessel for their beer-to-go.

You have to use that brewery’s growler to get that brewery’s beer. (It’s the law, so don’t bother asking Haines Brewing Co to fill your Yukon Brewing left-hander. You will look like a rookie.)

Speaking of newbies, waltz in proudly with a clean growler. You don’t sit down to dinner with dirty plates, and you wouldn’t ask a brewery to pour their beer into a dirty container.

Many breweries will charge a cleaning fee if they feel your growler is not up to snuff.

This is also for your own good. Dirt (bacteria, mice, you name it) in a growler will contaminate the beer and greatly affect its taste and shelf life.

Contamination-free, however, this little glass jug is going to make you look darn fine. A year ago, Bob Baxter at Yukon Brewing sent us an article about the New York trend of filling up growlers at organic, fabric bag-toting establishments.

Anyone who was anyone was doing it.

So go ahead and be an anyone. Grab your clean growler, hop on your bike and head down to Yukon Brewing for the annual offering of their amazing Birch Beer and get ready for a rattle-free ride to DCMF.

Please enjoy this article responsibly.

Michael Kulachkosky and Rachel Finn are avid homebrewers who delight in social, trivial and all other non-presumptuous aspects of beer enjoyment.

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