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Beer Growlers: What is a Beer Growler?

Charl Joost
Last Updated: February 15th, 2023

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A Beer Growler is a 32-or 64-ounce, airtight glass, ceramic, or stainless steel container that functions like a small keg. They are usually sold at breweries and brewpubs to sell craft beer. They help preserve the beer’s flavor and ensure that no degradation of quality occurs.

History of Beer Growlers

history of beer growlers

In the late 1800s, tin pails, glass jars, or jugs were used to carry beer home from the local pub. A covered 2-quart enamel bucket was the most common vessel used.

A story about the origin of how the beer growler got its name is that a covered bucket full of carbonated beer sloshing about would let carbon dioxide escape and create a growling noise.

Before World War II, children would collect buckets of beer from the local pub and take them to workers at lunch or to their parents in the evening. This practice became known as “rushing the growler.”

In the  1950s, the tin pail had been replaced by waxed cardboard containers with lids, and by the 1960s, most bars had switched to plastic and were permitted to sell pre-packaged beer after hours. The concept of the growler had disappeared.

It is claimed that in 1989, Charlie Otto, the owner of Wyoming’s first microbrewery, wanted to offer draft beer-to-go but could not bottle it. His father, who remembered the use of growlers, suggested they try something similar.

Charlie began using half-gallon glass jugs and silk-screening his logo onto the jars; thus, the growler as we now know it was established.

Why Use a Beer Growler?

why use a beer growler
Image: Don LaVange

Beer growlers are containers used to transport and store beer from a keg, poured through a tap system, and can be purchased from a brewpub, brewery, and retail stores. Despite coming in many sizes and shapes, most growlers have a handle making it easy to carry.

They are an excellent way to bring home, or to a party, a beer that is not available in cans or bottles. A beer growler can be filled and refilled with any style of beer, from pale ale to stout. The beer will retain its hoppy goodness and freshness for up to 10 days.

You will not need to worry about recycling cans or bottles as you can clean and refill your growler.

Types of Growlers

types of growlers
Image: Mike Gifford

Beer growlers are available in glass, ceramic and stainless steel. Knowing the differences between these various types will give you a better idea of which will best suit your needs.


The most popular material for beer growlers is glass, which is widely available. They can be bought in either a clear or amber color. The amber color is preferable as it provides excellent UV protection. UV rays can lead to photo-oxidation that can cause the beer to go “skunky.”

One of the benefits of a glass growler is that you can see the level of the contents, which is beneficial during the filling process and also gives you a good indication of how much beer is left in the growler.

The only negative aspect of the glass is that it will crack, chip, or shatter if not handled with care. However, if you take their potential fragility into account when transporting or handling a glass growler, it will last for many years.


Although harder to find, a ceramic growler is popular due to its aesthetically great look. Unfortunately, ceramic growlers are more expensive, tend to be heavy to carry around, and are challenging to clean

Due to not being able to see inside the ceramic growler, you may encounter difficulty during the filling and cleaning process and are susceptible to chipping or breaking if dropped or handled carelessly.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel growlers are very popular; they are easy to carry around and should not break if dropped to the floor. In addition, the design of stainless steel growlers will help insulate your beer and keep it colder than any other type of beer growler.

They are perfect if you are camping with friends or planning a hike. They are easy to carry around, durable, and will keep your beer colder for longer than any other beer growler.

The main downside of a stainless steel growler is that you cannot see the level of the contents inside, making filling the growler more challenging.

Cleaning Your Beer Growler

cleaning your beer growler
Image: Didriks

Suppose your beer growler has not been adequately cleaned before refilling or after use. In that case, there is a possibility of the growth of spoilage bacteria and molds occurring, which could lead to health issues, and you will not be able to experience the flavors and aromas of the new beer.

How to Keep Your Growler Clean


After emptying the last beer from the growler, rinse the growler thoroughly with hot water. If rinsed immediately once the growler is empty, the growler should be clean enough for the next refill, although rinsing again before refilling is advisable.


Once the inside of the growler has been effectively cleaned, it is best to air dry it by turning it upside down and leaning it against a wall. Using a towel is not advisable as there is the possibility of leaving tiny fibers behind that could affect the quality of your next fill.


If your growler was not rinsed out directly after use and is left to dry with a beer residue inside, you may have to use a detergent to clean it.

Do not use a fat or oil-based detergent, as these will not rinse out thoroughly and leave residuals behind, affecting the taste of your next fill. Instead, it is recommended that, if obtainable, homebrew cleansers be used.

How to Fill Your Growler

how to fill your growler
Image: TheDigitel Beaufort

Once you have decided where to fill your growler, bring it in, tell them which beer you want, and monitor how it is filled. There are several methods of filling your growler.

Filling from the bottom is the well-known method of filling a growler and what you will see being used most often. First, an extension tube is attached to the faucet. Then, this tube is placed into the growler and filled from the bottom up.

This method will reduce the spillage and overall filling time but may increase the amount of oxygen in the growler, which will cause the beer to go stale more quickly.

Counter Pressure CO2 Filling helps to reduce the amount of oxygen by purging the oxygen out of the growler before it is filled, thus preventing the beer from becoming oxidized and giving the beer a longer shelf life.

A growler can also be filled by pouring the beer directly from the faucet into the growler. However, this method is not recommended as it creates too much foam, is wasteful, and should only be used as a last resort.


safety factors for beer growler

Due to a growler being an airtight container, there are several safety factors to consider:


A beer growler should be treated the same as a can or bottle of beer. Keep it cold and in the fridge, and avoid leaving it in hot places. Likewise, it should not be left in the freezer.

Avoid Overfilling

It is recommended that you leave a space at the very top to allow room for the head of foam. Most growlers will have a line on the side to make it easy to know when to stop filling.

Inspect Before Filling

Check for any chips, cracks, and dents that may damage your growler further, which could alter the taste or decrease the shelf-life.


The growing popularity of growlers can be accredited to the fact that the growler offers the beer drinker a “straight from the tap” drinking experience that can be enjoyed at home or a party. In addition, their reusable nature makes them the ideal container for transporting beer.

About The Author

Charl Joost

Charl is a trainer, public speaker, and professional writer. While he has been coached to niche down, he has many passions. These include golf, gardening, technology, and a decent cup of coffee or two. Charl loves to learn about new products and tries everything he writes about.

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