Basic Guide to Growlers

What is a growler? Basically, a growler is a refillable, airtight container. It is made of glass, stainless steel, or ceramic material. Use it to transport beer without experiencing a drop in quality. They come in various sizes. The range is from about 10 ounces to 192 ounces. No matter the size, seek out a growler that will keep your beverage chilled, carbonated at an optimized taste level. Nobody likes to drink warm, stale beer. Let’s check out some of the information below on how the modern growler came into existence and details on each type of growler.

History of Growlers

Temperance Anti-Alcohol Movement

Around the late 1800s and early 1900s, beer was transported in a metal bucket, or some other container, from the pub to the home. There are no hard facts as to the origin of the term “growler.” Some believe it earned the name from the carbon dioxide escaping from the lid on the pail. Others believe it is from the “growling” made by the men if the bartender did not fill it to the top or when some of the beer would spill. After all, spilling beer is such a waste.

In the 1920s, the growler was outlawed entirely after much opposition to the “Bucket Trade.” Many anti-alcohol activists were a part of the “Temperance” movement that led up to the prohibition of all growlers. They were critical of alcohol consumption and sending minors to fill growlers. They were utterly against using children to deliver pails of beer to the workers at lunch or home to their fathers. Despite their best efforts, by 1933, the prohibition of growlers was repealed. It was a victory for beer lovers.

In the 1950s and 1960s, people began to use waxy, cardboard, box-like containers to carry their beer. They weren’t very popular because shortly after, people switched to plastic, and finally to packaged beers.

The idea of the growler faded until about 1989 when Charlie Otto, the founder of Otto Brother’s Brewing Company wanted a way to provide beer drinkers with a way to take home his microbrew. And that is what brings us to the modern-day growler.

Why Choose a Growler?

Easy to Transport

Since growlers come in several available shapes and sizes, they are easy to transport. Almost all of them have handles. If it does not have a handle, then you can easily put it into a tote and sling it over your shoulder. They come in a wide variety of designs. For example, some prefer using a glass growler. You may prefer a stainless steel growler.

These babies aren’t like a regular water bottle. They are airtight. Even when you’re trekking through the rough terrain—with your growler banging around—your beer will retain its carbonation and remain fresh. Your beer won’t retain the same quality if you simply pour some into a regular canteen and go.

Think about it this way, you’re out hiking, right? Finally, you reach your destination and drop your gear. As you breathe in the fresh air and take in the scenery, there’s nothing better than confidently cracking open your growler—knowing that your beer is still fresh—and tilting your head back to suck down that sweet nectar. Sounds appealing, no?

Take Your Beer With You

Instead of having to choose from a variety of bottled beers that you really do not want to drink, bring your favorite beer with you! You can get it from your local bar or brewery. Of course, some breweries will not allow you to bring in your own growler. Some prefer that you exchange and use one of their growlers. Some will not allow you to do it at all. It really depends on the laws and restrictions in your area.

You could even brew your own beer at home if that is something you are interested in doing. Many beer connoisseurs put a lot of effort into creating their own homebrew. Putting it into a growler to take with you is the best option.

Tapping a New Keg

Growlers are also beneficial when the keg runs low and a new one needs to be tapped. Fill the growlers with the remaining beer, and then tap the new keg. This way, nobody is left waiting around for more beer. This is beneficial for parties and for bartenders in local bars.

Types of Growlers

Growlers have come a long way in terms of design. There are several types of growlers as opposed to being limited to three basic types. You can use them to transport a variety of liquids, like wine, water, soda, or cider. You can even store coffee in a growler, but it is mainly used to store beer. Transporting fresh beer was the entire reason it was invented in the first place. As a result of their improvements, taking your favorite libation on the go has never been easier. Understanding each type of growler will help you decide which one is best for you.


Ceramic growlers are made of stoneware. Once fired and glazed, they make the perfect storage container for beer. The walls of the growler are thick, keeping the liquid chilled. They are pleasing to the eye, but they tend to weigh more than other growlers. Since you cannot see inside of the container, filling and cleaning may prove difficult. Additionally, if dropped they may chip, crack, and even break.


Glass is the most popular type of growler. You can see the contents in the glass growler, making it easier to fill and clean. They come in clear, brown, or some other dark color. I don’t recommend purchasing a clear growler. Ultraviolet rays damage beer. The darker the glass, the better the protection.

It also depends on the type of brew you choose to put in it. Less hoppy beers do not skunk as fast as more hoppy beers. Either way, if you decide to purchase a clear growler, keep it protected and fresh with a cover or a tote. Glass growlers are fragile. If you are not mindful when handling them, they may crack, chip, or shatter.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel growlers are most popular with hikers, campers, and anyone who is going to need a sturdy container while they are on the go. They are extremely durable. You might dent it, but it probably won’t break if you drop it. There are variations on the design of stainless steel growlers. For example, some growlers are stainless steel with single walls; others are made with double walls.

They are insulated, keeping your beer cold. Some growlers can keep your beer cold for several days. You cannot see inside of it for cleaning or filling, making that its only real disadvantage. A way to get around this for stainless steel and ceramic growlers is by filling it until the head comes out of the top and spills a little down the side. The other disadvantage might be taste quality, but that varies because everyone has a different pallet. Something that tastes off to me, might not taste off to someone else.

There you have it, a basic guide to growlers. If you feel I left something out, feel free to drop a comment below. Cheers!