Despite its grumpy-sounding name, if a friend offers to share a growler with you then that’s a great thing. If you want to be specific, a growler refers to a 64 ounce glass container which are meant to be filled straight from the tap. However, in general the term applies to a wider variety of containers ranging in size and materials. While typical glass growlers can keep draft beer fresh for a matter of hours, technology is changing things. Changes in the law also mean that you can get a growler fill in more places including pubs, grocery stores, and even the gas station or car wash. So which container is right for you?
Simple glass containers can be purchased in a variety of shops. Most pubs and growler filling stations also offer a variety of plain vessels, along with nicer versions adorned with brewery logos or even the mascot for popular sports teams. They come in a variety of shapes. Some have a screw top, and others have stopper with a metal bail. The cheapest place to pick up a growler in Bend is probably the Kitchen Collection store at the Bend Factory Stores or at The Brew Shop (Platypus Pub) on Third Street. No matter the logo or closure style, once these containers are open the beer inside will go flat fairly quickly so itís best to consume within a few hours to ensure freshness. For me, that means these containers are great for parties and sharing with a group of friends.
The Growlette (a.k.a. Howler)
A smaller version of the growler is the 32 ounce growlette (or howler in the Midwest and other regions). Other than size, they are pretty much the same as their 64 ounce counterpart. I prefer the growlette size for beer that I am sharing with a smaller group, or for darker or Imperial brews with higher alcohol content.
A wide variety of advanced fill-and-go containers are available. If you are visiting and don’t want to invest in a glass growler, check out CrowlersTM. These 32 ounce containers are also great for packing along on a camping trip. The catch is, they are NOT resealable so once they are open the clock is ticking.
Another Central Oregon favorite is the DrinkTankR, in both 64 ounce and 128 ounce sizes. Stylish and insulated, these steel vessels have a sturdy handle, dual bail cap, and keeps beer cold for up to 12 hours on a hot day. You can upgrade a DrinkTankR to be your own personal keg by adding an accessory kit that includes a tap and CO2 injector that ensures youíll never get a flat pour.
While growler fills have been commonplace at pubs for years, Bend is the birthplace of Oregon’s more recent fill station phenomenon. It all started with the Growler Guys who now have locations on both the East and West sides of town. Other popular fill locations include Gorilla Growlers, Growler Philís, Love Handles, and Fred Meyer Grocery. Of course, if you are looking for a specific Central Oregon beer or cider I recommend going to the source and filling up at the brewery.